Electric vehicles (“EVs”) are poised to play a significant role in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As several governments around the world pledge to work toward carbon neutrality and issue increasingly strict emission standards, EV start-ups and established automakers have been busy developing new EV lines.
Since EVs rely on lithium-ion batteries and electric motors to run, the vehicles produce zero emissions at the tailpipe, making them the perfect choice for a carbon-neutral economy. For the past couple of years, some companies in the EV space have been evaluating a bi-directional battery technology that would allow electric cars to discharge energy back into the grid during peak demand hours.
Currently, most of the electric vehicles on the road feature batteries that can only take in energy from the grid. With bidirectional charging, however, EVs would basically act as massive batteries capable of powering a home for a limited period or discharging energy into the grid when it is most needed. EV-elocity, a U.K.-wide project funded by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy and led by nonprofit consultancy firm Cenex in conjunction with the Universities of Nottingham, Warwick, and the Leeds and Nottingham councils is evaluating whether this technology would be viable. Large-scale trials of the bidirectional charging technology have already begun, with the project installing several special vehicle-to-grid (“V2G”) chargers in a variety of locations across England.
According to Professor Lucelia Rodrigues, the lead researcher from the University of Nottingham, installing vehicle-to-grid technology has the potential to significantly cut down on greenhouse gas emissions from electricity and transport over the long term. As it stands, the demand for energy peaks between 6–8 p.m. when people are at home and renewable energy sources such as solar aren’t generating power. This disconnect between peak energy demand and peak renewable energy supply places significant stress on the electric grid and forces power plants that supply energy to burn more dirty fuels such as coal to keep up with the demand.
If EVs could be used to store the renewable energy when it is most abundant then release it back into the grid when the demand has peaked, the energy grid would be less stressed and produce fewer emissions. Researchers are also studying how they can implement bidirectional charging without impacting battery life and range. Dr. Julie Waldron, a research fellow at the University of Nottingham, says that EVs could also help their owners earn some spare cash while they are parked. This could help offset the relatively high purchase costs of most EVs.
If research proves that V2G is a viable approach in supporting the grid, we are likely to see EV manufacturers such as ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp Ltd. (NASDAQ: SOLO) include this technology in their upcoming vehicle models.
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