DOD/Air Force pilot in LA on Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology set to finish in September and report out

Excerpt from Energy Fuse, Aug 2017

The hope is that V2G will become widespread as the fleet of EVs increases. So far, V2G is still in its infancy but holds a lot of promise. Besides Nissan’s testing V2G technology throughout Europe, there are pilot programs for V2G in the U.S., too, but not on a large scale.

The Department of Defense (DOD) launched V2G pilots at a number of installations as part of its effort to reduce its own dependence on oil, including at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California.  The Air Force’s pilot in LA is set to finish in September, and the DOD will publish a final evaluation on its findings late this year or early 2018.

Even though the DOD-funded project will end next month, it will be extended thanks to a grant from the California Energy Commission. Major Jake Bowen told The Fuse that, after the demonstration, which went live in December 2015, that some systems are ready or near ready for commercialization. The technology has “experienced growing pains” but it is “advancing the reliability of energy storage.” He believes that first generation of V2G technology will learn from the DOD’s demonstration, but scalable commercialization is still 5-10 years away.

Meanwhile, Nuvve, a start-up that is partnering with University of California San Diego (UCSD), has made waves as of late with its $8 million project that will draw power from parked EVs. “Vehicle to Grid technology allows a parked electric vehicle to become part of an electric grid—you can charge your vehicle at night, drive it to work in the morning and then charge the energy back into the grid when you park,” UCSD said in a statement. “Charging and discharging is flexible and based on real-time requests from the grid operator. Drivers would be paid every time the grid operator uses energy from their cars while still being guaranteed the expected level of charge needed to operate the vehicle.”

One of the worries about V2G, however, is that it will degrade batteries quicker than expected. But that may not necessarily be the case. As a University of Warwick study points out: “The smart grid is able to extend the life of the EV battery beyond the case in which there is no V2G.”

“The smart grid is able to extend the life of the EV battery beyond the case in which there is no V2G.”

If that is the case, then V2G looks even more attractive and could be a key in supporting the grid as demand increases. In her book The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, Gretchen Bakke lays out nicely the enormous potential this new technology holds. “With electric car batteries, if there were enough of them and if they were designed to both give to and take power from the grid, peak load would be smoothed to a gentle rise at the workday’s end and variable generation might be balanced easily and thoroughly.”