Several companies and researchers are moving closer to realizing V2X or “vehicle-to-everything” systems—technology that turns the batteries powering a growing EV fleet into essential energy storage for grids.
“V2X is a broad technology concept where electric vehicles do more than just remove barriers between us and a 10-piece McNugget meal,” writes Energy Minute. “Instead, EVs and their batteries could play a big role in managing the grid and providing other key services while charging.”
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Governments taking steps to decarbonize grids will need to deploy vast amounts of renewables like wind and solar. But since they are intermittent sources, options for energy storage are already becoming increasingly important to manage energy demand and ensure reliability.
Instead of investing in expensive, stand-alone energy storage projects, EV batteries can help manage grid load using V2X. Their capacity could reach 32 to 62 terawatt-hours by 2050, found a recent study published in the journal Nature, with only relatively low to manageable participation—12 to 43% of the EV fleet— needed to meet short-term grid storage demand globally.
V2X has been making inroads through pilot studies, like bidirectional charging technology pilots that have explored opportunities for managed (V1G), vehicle-to-grid (V2G), and vehicle-to-home charging.
But the idea of using EV batteries for energy storage is now going mainstream, as companies like Ford advertise their EVs’ potential to provide home backup power. The powerful battery in a Ford F-150 Lightning is 10 times the size of a Tesla Powerwall and could power an average family home for several days (or salvage an outdoor wedding). Other big automakers are also looking to offer V2X packages that they can roll out with their new EV models.
But V2X goes further: It is “an all-encompassing energy technology concept in which an electric vehicle is viewed as a mobile battery, and stored energy in the vehicle can be discharged for some benefit,” explains the Electric School Bus Initiative.
It can also mean different things to different people, General Motors’ V2X lead Ty Jagerson told Canary Media. For GM, “V2X is really the business associated with what you can do with your car when it is plugged in.”
(While there are V2X communication technologies that are exploring how software in vehicles can be used to connect with information in its surroundings, Jagerson clarified that he was focused on V2X that affects energy use and the grid.)
There are some challenges to deploying V2X, including costly grid upgrades and the possibility of prematurely degrading batteries. Helping consumers feel comfortable with the concept is also key, as many could be concerned about compensation rates and whether their vehicles will be left without a charge when they need it.
Also important will be bringing together competitors to create a market structure that allows EV owners to connect with companies and utilities to manage and sell the energy stored in their batteries, Jagerson said.