If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that electric vehicles (EVs) are here to stay. The number of passenger EVs around the world is expected to increase from 3.1 million to 14 million by 2025*—that’s a 350% projected increase in just a few years.
Millions of new EVs also means millions of new batteries. These rechargeable batteries store the energy that powers your EV. So, what if you could harness this influx of energy storage units, and use it to support the electricity grid? This is the aim of vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, technology, and it’s set to revolutionise the world’s energy ecosystem as we know it.
V to what?
V2G is the process of excess energy being stored and discharged from your EV, used to power something else. You may use the excess energy to power your home at night when your solar panels aren’t generating energy, which would be vehicle-to-home (V2H), or your excess energy may be discharged into the grid, helping to stabilise your local community in times of peak electricity demand (V2G). You can also use this energy to power up anything else you can imagine—including campsites and mobile worksites. This is called vehicle-to-everything, vehicle-to-x or vehicle-to-live (V2X).
Why is V2G important?
The renewable energy boom is upon us, and it’s creating a greener and cleaner community in the capital region and beyond, but the increase in renewable energy creates some grid complexities.
The electricity market in Australia, as we know it today, was introduced in 1998, so it wasn’t structured with renewable energy in mind. Coal and gas power plants generate energy in real-time, as the grid demands it, so there’s no need for energy storage. But, renewable energy is intermittent—solar power is only generated when it’s sunny, and wind power is only generated when it’s windy, which puts pressure on the electricity system.
Renewable energy now accounts more than one-fifth of the total generated energy in Australia^, but at the moment, there’s very little way to store it to use later. So, at night, or when there’s no wind to make the turbines go around, coal and gas are the main generators of our energy. V2G provides the missing link in the energy ecosystem—energy storage. V2G can feed energy into the grid during peak demand periods (because we have back-up energy ready to bridge the gap when necessary) and also opens up the opportunity to generate and use more renewable energy (because we’re able to store it for when it’s not windy or sunny). This directly replaces electricity that would have otherwise been generated by fossil fuels, and it all happens while your EV is parked in your garage. That’s a big win!
What does V2G mean for you?
Aside from the advantages to the grid at large, V2G technology can also benefit your household financially, environmentally and during an emergency.
- Financially: Similar to your solar feed-in tariff, participating energy retailers, like ActewAGL, may provide you a financial incentive for the energy you feed back into the grid.
- Environmentally: With the ability to store energy to use later, you’ll be able to maximise the power of your solar panels, and you won’t need as much power from the grid. Not only does this mean you’ll save on energy costs, but you’ll also be using less fossil-fuel generated power, and more green energy. This is one powerful way to cut your carbon-footprint.
- Emergency: Sometimes, a fault, an imbalance in the grid or severe weather can cause an interruption to your power supply. With V2G, your energy storage unit will be able to assist you and your community in times of need—increasing grid reliability and stability when you need it most.
How does it work?
As we know, V2G technology allows EVs to feed power back into the grid. This is facilitated by enabling a bidirectional, or two-way, energy flow device. Not all EVs were created equal, and some EVs are not V2G-compatible. For V2G technology to work, your EV must be a compatible model and connected to a bidirectional charger.
In your own energy ecosystem, your V2G-compatible EV is like a battery on wheels for your home and life. Your rooftop solar panels generate energy, that energy powers your home, the rest is stored in your EV battery, and anything excess can be discharged into the grid. When the sun goes down, you can also use some of the energy stored in your EV to power your home. Simple as that.
‘Realising Electric Vehicle-to-grid Services’ (REVS) project
We’re confident about the potential of V2G technology for our local community. That’s why we’ve partnered up with other leaders in the transport, energy and engineering fields to test how electric vehicles can support the uptake of renewable generation. It’s called REVS, and it’s a part of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s (ARENA) Advancing Renewables Program. REVS is a world-first project, testing Australian-first technology—and we’re proud to be a part of it. With more projects like these, and the adoption of EVs still rapidly increasing, wide-spread V2G technology may be in our community sooner than you think.
Brush up on your renewable energy buzz words, and see what else we’re doing to support the capital region to be more sustainable, in our Green glossary.
Do you have an EV at home or work? Get fully charged with on-site EV charger installations that are right there, right when you need it.
Will your next car be an EV? Our energy experts bust the most common misconceptions about EVs.
Want to get into the nitty gritty of V2G technology and read more about the REVS project? These knowledge sharing reports are truly the A–Z of V2G.