Renewable resources, from wind to solar, are the future of energy generation. However, both face one major hurdle to becoming the main source’s of the planet’s energy. Unlike a coal-fired powerplant, neither is constantly on. After all, the sun sets at night and sometimes the wind doesn’t blow.
Turns out, though, EVs might be able to do more than wean humanity off of internal combustion engines. They might be able to help bridge the energy gap during windless nights and keep the energy grid fed.
The technology that will enable EVs to fill in for renewable energy sources is called reversible charging — or vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging. Achieving the goal requires a very small adaptation to today’s electric vehicles.
Renault is leading the charge (pun intended) in testing the feasibility and future of V2G charging. Although Renault doesn’t have a presence in the U.S. it has a sizable share of the European car market. What’s more, the French automaker is the electric-vehicle leader in Europe. And it’s using its leadership role to spur innovation.
This week, Renault launched a V2G charging pilot program across France, Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark that utilizes some of its Zoe electric vehicles to test the impact and feasibility of reverse charging.
The tech works by allowing EV batteries, when plugged in, to absorb electricity generated by renewable sources. When there is great demand on the electricity grid, the EVs can send the needed energy back out from their batteries and into the grid. Essentially, the tech optimizes local energy supplies and generation and reduces infrastructure costs.
The only hang up I can see in the viability of V2G charging is that it relies on a fleet of constantly plugged-in EVs. I was under the impression that the future of mobility hinged on a fleet of constantly moving autonomous vehicles that are charged through wireless inductive charging. Obviously, that shoots this plan in the foot.
That’s long term, I suppose. In the short term, as personally owned EV fleets grow and remain plugged in when not in use, this V2G charging scheme could be a great addition to the electric grid.