EVs could prove to be even more advantageous than originally anticipated.
We know that EVs will help reduce carbon emissions, but they could also help support out-of-date power grids, according to Wired. That’s right, your battery-powered vehicle won’t just help you get places, it could also keep the lights on at home.
This is all thanks to bidirectional or vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging, a technology that’s starting to pop up on EVs like the new Ford F-150 Lightning. Normally, when you plug in an EV to charge, it takes alternating current (AC) power and turns it into directional current voltage, which it stores in its battery. If a vehicle is equipped with a bidirectional charger, though, it can convert stored DC power back to AC and add it back to the grid. It’s thanks to this piece of equipment that the F-150 Lightning can keep a house running for up to three days in a blackout.
Bidirectional charging isn’t common yet, but if Ford’s first battery-powered truck proves to be a hit that’s likely to change. If it does, there are experts who feel that the technology could easily be used to help prop up energy grids all over the world. In fact, there are more than 100 V2G pilots scattered across the globe currently, according to the magazine. Most of these programs are in Europe, but some are in the US, specifically California.
The Golden State’s experiments with V2G have only been on a small scale up until now, but there’s good reason for the state to look into wider use of the technology. Earlier this summer, California passed a bill that would ban the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. By the time it kicks in, the state is expected to be home to 14 million EVs, and if local utilities could tap into their batteries that would provide enough energy to power every home in the state for three days. The ability to do this could prove vital to the grid, especially during energy demand spikes.
“If all the EVs in the state plug in during these peak load times and feed power back to the grid, they’re acting as giant batteries,” Clifford Rechtschaffen, commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission, told Wired. “We could use them to greatly relieve stress on the grid during the periods of greatest need.”
V2G is still in the early stages of development, but it’s easy to see how the technology can help, especially somewhere like California. Earlier this month, the state asked EV owners to avoid charging their vehicles during peak hours to relieve stress on its beleaguered power grid. In 2035, it may be asking them to plug them in and help out.