According to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature, electric cars could significantly help stabilize power grids by feeding electricity into them and encourage renewable energy development.
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The transition to renewable energies such as wind or solar is essential to face global warming. But these energies with discontinuous production require the construction of short-term electricity storage capacities (a few hours).
Vehicle to Grid (V2G) technology currently under development will allow electric cars to charge when there is plenty of power available and feed it back through the same port when there is no power on the grid.
With the spread of electric cars, this storage requirement could be met in most countries around the world by 2030, according to calculations by researcher Chengjian Xu from Leiden University in the Netherlands.
The batteries could offer 32 to 62 terawatts of capacity by 2050, more than the storage needs estimated by the International Renewable Energy Agency.
This calculation also includes the reuse of valuable old batteries, which are considered insufficient for cars from 20% or 30% loss of autonomy.
“Using electric cars to store electricity would reduce the demand for energy storage and the climate impact associated with the production of storage equipment,” Xu told AFP. In addition, “it would increase the flexibility of the power grid and the integration of renewable energy”.
The researcher bet on limited participation of EV users in the V2G system, as these cycles could somewhat shorten a battery’s lifespan.
But this participation is “crucial” and the government can “play an important role,” Mr. Xu stressed, with incentives such as micropayments for individuals to connect their car to the terminal and share their electricity, or requiring companies to connect their vehicle fleets.
The study includes data from the Chinese, European, American and Indian markets and takes into account factors such as different battery technologies, distances driven by cars or average temperatures that affect battery life.
Several manufacturers such as Hyundai and Renault are already testing vehicles equipped with V2G, for example in Utrecht (Netherlands). Some Teslas are also already compatible, as are many home chargers.
Renault estimates that in the case of an electric rental car, the driver and the brand could share up to 400 euros a year if they leave their car connected for 8 hours a day.