A recent analysis from Bloomberg suggested electric vehicles could account for half of all new cars sold by 2040. An increase in electric vehicle adoption could mean more opportunities for these cars to help the power system. Here are five ways electric vehicles can serve as a grid resource.
■ Electric vehicle batteries could regulate fluctuations caused by disparities in electricity generation and demand. These batteries can provide power when demand exceeds supply or absorb excess electricity when it surpasses demand. Vehicle-to-grid technology allows electric vehicles to charge and discharge electricity to and from the grid and has already been commercialized in Denmark by Nuvve.
■ More renewable energy can be used on the grid with the storage capability of electric vehicle batteries. Energy provided by renewable sources could be absorbed by the batteries and stored for later use. The reserved electricity could be used to operate the vehicle or sold back to the grid and help balance supply and demand.
■ Because electric vehicle batteries can balance the load on the grid, they also could reduce the amount of money utilities spend on infrastructure upgrades due to less wear and tear. Such improvements to the electric system are expensive. One transformer alone can cost millions of dollars, depending on the size and manufacturer. This in turn may reduce costs for ratepayers.
■ Many major power outages are at least partly attributed to problems related to maintaining voltage level on the grid. Electric vehicle batteries can generate the power necessary for voltage support. These cars already are located within the load centers where power is needed most, making them an especially useful resource. Power flows would be balanced and less electricity would be wasted.
■ Electric vehicles allow for flexibility during peak demand times as a demand response resource. For instance, BMW has conducted a smart-charging pilot with Pacific Gas and Electric to determine how to best incentivize drivers to charge vehicles during low demand periods on the grid with a mobile application.
As demonstrated by this list, electric vehicles are not just an environmentally friendly mode of transportation. These cars can also help the electric grid meet supply and demand and boost the power system’s flexibility.