Against the backdrop of energy transition, electric needs are continuously increasing, not least due to the development of electric mobility. According to projections in the BloombergNEF report, by 2040 50% of all cars sold will be electric. All these vehicles will have to be powered in a smart and sensible way at a time of global upheaval.
Just like a house with solar panels generates its own power, the electric car can store and redistribute or even generate power. Out with the passive electric vehicle that does nothing but use up power, and make way for a new generation of interactive cars: known as Vehicle To Grid or V2G. As its name would imply, V2G technology refers to the process of feeding the electricity contained in an electric car’s batteries back into the electrical grid while it is parked. This technology forms part of a smart grid, an electrical network system that uses information technology to manage energy consumption.
On a large scale, the smart grid promotes data sharing between suppliers and consumers so as to address a major issue: energy storage. Electricity is difficult to store in large quantities. Managing it means balancing it out in real time. Either the electricity generated is not enough to power the network, or it is excessive and most of the output gets wasted. V2G could play a major part in this electricity flow adjustment endeavor.
Thanks to bi-directional charging, the V2G battery becomes an extension of the electrical grid: storing the energy produced while demand is lower, and feeding it back into the system when demand is higher. It’s easy to imagine the advantages of this technology as electric vehicles become more widespread. With to Vehicle To Grid (V2G) technology, an electric vehicle could make a significant contribution towards an emissions-free world, drawing in large part on renewable energy sources.
Electricity generation has gone through changes and now incorporates renewable energy sources. As energy sources that are by nature sporadic, they make the network unstable, which means that more energy needs to be stored. The storage capacity made available via V2G can absorb a spike in consumption, preventing an outage from occurring. It can also offset the disruptions inherent in energy transfer when production switches between sources.
In the other direction, the concept of Vehicle To Grid operates on the principal of smart charging. The battery gets charged during renewable energy production phases, making it possible to consume mainly green energy more affordably.
Finally, V2G can be used as an alternative domestic energy source. The owner of an electric vehicle can draw on the energy stored in the battery to supply power to their home. Although it is still in the very early stages, as electric vehicles become more common the advantages of this technology are obvious.
As the core principle of V2G technologies, bi-directional charging consists – as its name suggests – in enabling energy flow in both directions, from supplier to user and vice versa. Until now, electric vehicle owners have been content to charge their vehicles’ batteries for their own use while the network carried this electricity to the charging points. This one-way energy flow is something that Vehicle-To-Grid technology totally redefines. Bi-directional charging is now about charging or draining the electric vehicle battery depending on the user’s needs and the volume of electricity available in the network. The flow goes in both directions, letting the supplier draw on the electric car battery occasionally.
The complex nature of an upgrade such as this raises questions. Here again, it’s about keeping it simple, since V2G works withalternating current. It only takes a small and inexpensive alteration to existing charging stations to make them reversible.
The Vehicle To Grid system represents a major step forward in the development of electric mobility and in smart energy management. Since March 2019, Groupe Renault has been working on a project which went into its first test phase in the eco-district of Utrecht in the Netherlands, where Two ZOE V2G prototypes joined the existing fleet of self-service electric vehicles. And to work towards the future of reversible charging, Groupe Renault aims to roll out 13 more ZOEs fitted with bi-directional chargers on various sites in Europe. One will be on the island of Porto Santo in Portugal as part of a partnership with energy supplier Empresa de Electricidade da Madeira. Smart pricing, batteries with increased capacity and apps to manage the charging process (for example, Renault Z.E Smart Charge) — the tools are being developed and the plan is being rolled out with a view to sensible, smart energy consumption in line with the ongoing transition.
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