What do plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) have to do with the so-called smart grid being rolled out by electric utilities?
Utilities and others are looking to tap into the power stored in the batteries of electric vehicles. The technology, called V2G, for vehicle to grid, has been tested by the University of Delaware and is in some pilot programs involving renewable energy around the world.
A new report, Vehicle to Grid Technologies, published by Pike Research, says that 90,000 light-duty vehicles and an additional 1,500 medium/heavy duty trucks will be enabled with V2G technologies by 2017.
Not only will these vehicles be available to share power with the grid, they could be used for vehicle to building (V2B) services to help power buildings and homes.
And why not use your EV’s batteries, with the help of an energy management system, to power devices in your home when Time of Use electric rates, which can vary throughout the day, are high? This could be a big part of making homes more energy-efficient.
However, the report’s executive summary states:
Early discussions of V2G focused on the use of vehicles to store energy in bulk and make it available to the grid or building at times when electricity is more expensive. While this market continues to have potential, attention has shifted to the use of vehicles for frequency regulation. Using PEVs in frequency regulation [fine-tuning the grid] has a lesser impact on vehicle batteries and is viewed with greater acceptance by automakers.
According to Pike, investment in V2G by automakers, utilities, and energy aggregators will be strongly influenced by the global and regional penetration of PEVs. Dozens of PEVs must be aggregated in a given area to produce sufficient power capacity to interest grid operators and industry participants are waiting for these vehicles to be in place in ample numbers before developing programs. The number of vehicles that could participate in V2G will grow from just over 100,000 light duty vehicles in 2011 to more than 5 million in 2017. But substantial investment in infrastructure and vehicle-based technology will be necessary to enable V2G services on a large scale.
Pike research director John Gartner adds that the highest demand for V2G in the early years,will be in energy markets that are more open to new technologies and with higher concentrations of intermittent renewable power. As adoption grows, V2G will compete with traditional generation sources as well as with emerging technologies, such as stationary battery storage, for revenue from ancillary services such as frequency regulation and demand response.
A free executive summary of Pike’s report is available at its web site.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates