Close this search box.


Stay up-to-date on the latest information. SUBSCRIBE FOR UPDATES


Make valuable connections and source new business partners by exhibiting. BECOME AN EXHIBITOR

Stay Informed

Stay Up-to-Date with #IESNA.


The Grid Solution Under Your EV’s Hood

The Grid Solution Under Your EV’s Hood

With the U.S. on track to add 33 gigawatts (GW) of solar by the end of 2023—more than any year on record—the nation’s power grid is undergoing rapid, systemic change. Renewable energy growth is outpacing even the most bullish of predictions, reflecting how quickly its economics have reached (and in some cases surpassed) cost parity with fossil fuels.

Despite the surge in clean-generating capacity, however, grid operators remain limited in their ability to retire fossil fuel power plants. There’s simply too much renewable intermittency and not enough storage to offset it—at least for now. But soon, this may be a problem of the past. There’s a promising solution on the horizon that could solve the challenge of intermittency: vehicle-to-grid (V2G) integration.

An up-and-coming technology, V2G integration allows EV drivers to supply power back to the grid in times of need, creating a more dynamic and resilient energy system. Instead of only pulling electricity from the grid, V2G integration lets EV drivers supply it, as well. With the ability to transform EV batteries into high-value, mobile storage assets, V2G integration offers the potential to mitigate grid intermittency, clearing the way for an electrical system dominated by solar, storage, and other renewables.

The Current Grid Cannot Adequately Support V2G Integration

The bi-directional energy flows that underpin V2G integration could be a huge win for the energy transition. Anywhere from 140-240 million EVs are expected to be on the road globally by 2030, each of which with the potential to act as a miniature mobile energy storage system. If aggregated, these millions of EVs could represent terawatts (TW) worth of energy storage, enough to greatly support utility-scale battery storage systems in providing grid resiliency.

The U.S. grid is structured around centralized power stations that produce and distribute electricity in a unidirectional manner. Transmission lines carry electricity away from power plants at high voltages; as the electricity approaches residential areas, it goes through a series of transformers to become safe and efficient for local power distribution. This traditional grid arrangement relies on dispatchable loads (i.e. fossil fuels) and as a result, prioritizes immediate energy consumption rather than storage and redistribution.

Aside from solar and storage customers covered by net metering policies , most consumers play no active role in the grid. But for solar and other clean energy sources to completely replace—not just supplement—fossil fuels, this needs to change.

Implementing V2G Integration at Scale

Restructuring the grid to allow for V2G integration will require a fundamental rethinking of electricity distribution, as bidirectional flows must be made widely available. To accomplish this, smart technologies that enable EVs and other distributed energy resources to connect and ‘communicate’ with the grid must be implemented en masse. These smart systems would allow for real-time monitoring of energy demand, grid conditions, and electricity pricing, and are key to coordinating complex energy flows for greater resiliency.

TOn the flip side, grid operators would need access to advanced control systems that can manage bidirectional flows—capabilities that are currently unavailable. These systems must be able to optimize energy flows and balance grid loads from thousands of distributed and decentralized connection points to ensure the grid is stable and operates reliably.

While estimated at a high price tag, grid modernization will pay for itself by providing a way for utilities to tap into low-cost distributed energy resources on a previously unheard-of scale. It will also enable drivers to monetize their EVs by up to hundreds of dollars per year — something that will surely boost adoption rates. If approached ambitiously, V2G integration could open massive new renewable deployment opportunities, helping accelerate the clean energy transition at a time when bottlenecks threaten to slow progress.

Investors Show Early Market Confidence in V2G Integration

Although V2G integration is still in its infancy, investors have expressed clear market confidence in its potential. Nearly every major automaker, regardless of geographic location, has committed millions of dollars to advancing V2G technology.

BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen, Porsche, Hyundai, Tesla, Nissan and others have all taken (or are actively taking) significant steps to integrate V2G capabilities into their EV offerings. Ford, in collaboration with Honda and BMW, recently established a V2G-focused company—ChargeScape—aimed at helping EV owners save money and utilities balance peak grid loads. In a sign of where the EV market is headed, Hyundai has referenced a ‘strategic shift’ towards monetizing grid-supportive services.

A handful of domestic V2G pilot programs have already shown promising results, including one first proposed back in 2021 by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) that has since helped transform California into a V2G leader while making EV ownership more accessible. Additionally, New York City’s first V2G pilot program — in partnership with the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator (IN2), the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and energy storage developer Ninedot Energy — recently entered the second stage of development and is being touted as a nationwide V2G model.

V2G Integration as a Rising Tide for Cleantech Development

The beauty of V2G integration is that it creates additional value using existing assets—drivers are already purchasing EVs, after all. Most importantly, V2G integration offers a way forward for renewable energy developers, utilities, and grid operators to rapidly address the concerns of intermittency.

With no plots of land or planning permissions needed, V2G-based storage is particularly scalable in today’s environment and can assist battery energy storage systems in supporting further renewable energy integration.

With solar and other renewable deployments showing no signs of slowing down, the U.S. is going to need all the storage capacity it can get. If EVs are allowed to work for the grid through V2G integration, however, regular drivers can empower the energy transition and assist battery energy storage systems in tackling the all-important challenge of intermittency.

Learn More

At the 2024 edition of Intersolar & Energy Storage North America (IESNA), the conference session “EV Charging and Vehicle-to-Home/Grid Integration: Opportunities for Market Expansion” led by Tom Tansy (DER Security Group), provided an introduction to V2X technology, exploring its value proposition for stakeholders and examining how EV charging and V2X fits into evolving business models.

To stay up-to-date and access more insights from IESNA, sign up here.

You may also like...

© Diversified Communications. All rights reserved.