Study: Big potential for electric cars as grid backup

Study: Big potential for electric cars as grid backup

Electric cars can contribute to the stability of electricity grids in the future. So says a study published today in the British journal Nature. As a result, the storage capacity of the entire electric car fleet can help to balance peak consumption.

Grid stability came to the fore during the shift to renewables. Unlike conventional energy producers such as coal and gas plants, the output of solar and wind systems is irregular. With little sun and wind and high consumption at the same time, bottlenecks can occur.

With V2G (Vehicle to Grid) technology, currently under development, the charging of electric car batteries can be synchronized with the availability of large amounts of electricity on the grid. At the same time, connected electric vehicles can replenish stored electricity in cases of bottlenecks.

Impact on battery life

With the increasing spread of electric cars, fleets in most countries around the world may be enough to secure grids with their storage capacity by 2030, as calculated by researcher Chengjian Xu from Leiden University in the Netherlands. By 2050, electric car batteries alone are likely to exceed the energy storage requirement estimated by the International Energy Agency.

In his calculations, Xu assumes that all electric car owners will only participate to a limited extent in such a system, because battery life would be impaired by more frequent charging and discharging. On the other hand, the government could create incentives for more people to make their cars available for network stabilization purposes, suggests the researcher.

Several electric car manufacturers such as Hyundai and Renault are already testing V2G technology in their vehicles. There is a pilot project in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Some Tesla models and many home chargers also support V2G.