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Will V2G solve the problem of storing solar electricity?

Posted by Jason Ramsdale on 26 November 2015 at 12:05 pm

Vehicle to grid (V2G):

There are about 43,000 electric vehicles on the road in the UK and that number is set to reach one million around 2020. [1,2] With the expectation of smart meters in every home by 2020, the market looks ripe for the growth of V2G systems. A V2G system combines energy management with a two way charger that can transfer power between the grid, your home and your electric vehicle.

Imagine what the potential pros and cons of V2G might be...

Advantages of a V2G system:

  • Charging up during low demand and sending power back to the grid when demand is high could counterbalance the intermittency of wind and solar energy.
  • Owners define the minimum price, battery level, and acceptable times under which they will sell energy from their electric vehicle back to the grid.
  • Provides a backup source of power capable of running a home for a couple of days in the case of power cuts.
  • Use it to power your home during peak times, then re-charging during the off-peak hours, saving you money on your energy bill with the right tariff.
  • Electric cars are quick, quiet and, if combined with the production of clean energy, have the potential to slash your carbon footprint and have no exhaust emissions.

Disadvantages of a V2G system:

  • Puts additional strain on your electric vehicle shortening the lifespan of your battery pack.
  • Electric cars have a limited range, the newest Nissan Leaf boasts a range of around 150 miles at the highest estimations.[3]
  • Electric vehicles are higher cost and the choice of different models is limited

SuperHomers’ Perspective:

Charles and Judy Ainger converted a bungalow into a Superhome, equipping it with, amongst other things, solar panels and an electric vehicle. In theory, given the right changes in regulations, their electric car could be used to power their home in an emergency. They commented:

"Our own experience of the electric car use was that we very rarely used all the battery power in a day in driving, so we would often have reserve in the battery we could draw off for emergency use in the house."

Pat and Zoe Williams are also SuperHome owners who have installed a PV system and are proud owners of a Nissan Leaf. They commented:

 “This sounds like a great idea - for the future.”  However. “The 'maximum range' is usually optimistic. Driving with lights, satnav and windscreen demister on decreases the range appreciably.  At this time of year to travel any distance in an unknown place requires a sense of adventure! Rapid chargers are available in motorway services (Ecotricity) but not widely elsewhere.”

Both the Williams and Ainger families felt that developments could be made to make V2G more flexible in the short-term. These developments included more availability of rapid chargers, more efficient energy use at home, better battery capacity and improved home energy storage. How home energy storage systems such as the Tesla Powerwall will interact with electric vehicles remains to be seen. Perhaps, not too long from now, we could be using solar panels to charge a large home battery while we are going about our daily business, then transferring that power to our electric vehicle when we get home.

Could a V2G system work for you?

Pat Williams made a particularly insightful comment:

“People use their EVs in different ways, from the intrepid traveller to the local commuter.”

Although being implemented in the Netherlands, V2G systems are yet to hit the market in the UK so you have plenty of time to weigh up your options.[4] But if you are looking for a greener way to store your energy, and would enjoy investing in a new electric car it will certainly be worth watching this space!

Sources:

[1] NextGreenCar

[2] IgnitionCredit

[3] Nissan

[4] V2G

Image: Tesla Model S electric vehicle by raneko

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