Some types of alternative energy sources present a difficult problem – what to do when the source stops providing energy? Solar energy isn’t available at night, and wind energy isn’t there when the wind stops blowing, but the demand for energy doesn’t stop. The solution is to draw power from storage of some type, but storing energy can be problematic.
The immediate answer is to use batteries, but providing power to an electric grid would require a lot of batteries, and batteries are expensive. Fortunately, Driivz, a subsidiary of Vontier Corporation, has found a lot of batteries, and they spend a lot of time connected to the grid.
Those batteries are installed in the growing number of electric cars and trucks. According to Driivz, the vast majority of those cars and trucks spend large amounts of time connected to the grid while they’re charged for the next time they’re needed. In the case of electric cars, they are recharged at home, at night, when the sun isn’t shining.
EV Batteries As Storage
“The most impactful advances for climate change can come from using EV batteries as storage resources that can be used to balance peak demands on generating capacity and solving the availability issues of renewables,” said Doron Frenkel, CEO of Driivz.
“A world full of EV batteries changes everything,” Frenkel explained. “The question for both balancing generation and expanding the use of renewables is how we store that energy for later use. EV batteries, combined with smart energy management, are the answer.”
“Then they can give back excess energy when it is most needed and expensive, lowering peak generation demands, as well as CO2 emissions,” he said.
All of this would require some fundamental changes in how EV charging works. For example, current charging practice is a one-way affair. EVs get electricity from the grid, but there’s no means of sending it back.
What’s needed Frenkel said, is some changes in the design of charging stations, and in the charging circuitry in the vehicle, to allow electricity to be taken from the batteries in the EV and sent back to the grid, but he says that owners of those EVs would be compensated for the electricity that’s used, providing an incentive to participate in such a program.
Owners Can Profit
Frenkel pointed out that if managed properly, EVs can be charged when electricity is cheapest for the owners. “They can profit on storing electricity for the grid: buying low and selling back high at a premium.”
Driivz is already one of the largest EV charging software companies globally, and the management needed for what the company refers to as Climate Recharge is an extension of its energy, operations and billing management software platform already in use worldwide.
Frenkel said that as EV use grows, this will lead to more charging stations, which in turn will lead to more opportunity to use those charging stations to feed power back to the grid.
“Using Smart energy management, it will be possible to capture and store generation surplus during low-demand periods, distributing the stored energy to chargers or back to the grid to help meet peak demand,” Frenkel explained. “These capabilities are designed to flatten the demand curve and close the gap between power demand and supply.”
While Frenkel didn’t provide a time table for this conversion to using EV batteries to provide energy storage to the grid, he did indicate that it could start fairly soon if new charging stations were designed to handle two-way power transfers. He said that this is already being done with domestic power production such as rooftop solar panels, which can already send power back to the grid.
“Moving forward it will be necessary to ensure that vehicles, charging stations as well as the grid and micro-grid are designed and built to support bi-directional charging,” he said.