Vehicle to Grid Technology to boost clean energy in grid
Vehicle to grid technology might be a significant step for renewable energy based electric power generation in order to overcome barriers such as non-manageability and unpredictability in the power output. So far, wind energy shows the highest short-term and long-term potential for supporting transport electrification. Photovoltaic energy might also provide electric power in isolated localizations through garages with photovoltaic covers.
Vehicle to Grid technology, in the coming years might have the same driving strength for renewable energy sources like wind and solar power very much like internal combustion engine had in the early 1900s for petroleum industry. The batteries of the vehicles may be recharged when there is spare wind energy available. Using vehicle to grid technology, during peak hours, stored electricity might be supplied to the distribution network. Here the vehicles serve as a distributed storing system, akin to pumped storage plants. The scale of the storage however is dependent on the thousands of vehicles in the service area which are parked most of the time.
The bidirectional power flow in the network and electric vehicles integration creates the conditions to integrate electric power generation and transport vehicles, thus opening up new avenues for wind power and other renewable energy sources into the power market.
Fossil energy sources such as petroleum ,coal and natural gas are flexible enough to adapt themselves to the power demand curve, enabling generation modulation according to demand. On the contrary, power generation from wind cannot be controlled by generation companies or Independent system operators (ISOs) managing the transmission network. Same is the case with other renewable energies like solar, tidal etc. This scenario poses a limitation. Impossibility to manage wind and other renewable energies is limiting them to an arbitrary 10 to 20 % of the grid generation as exceeding this limit would cause insurmountable difficulties in managing the network. However, with the technologies like PHEVs combined with smart grid infrastructure, this challenge can be met. Meeting of electrical demand for the huge PHEV fleet shouldn't be an issue keeping in view the development plans of renewable energy capacity projections for 2020.
In the near future, it will be possible for reversible electric networks in which lithium batteries of PHEVs with vehicle to grid technologies will be able to store electric power produced at night and during lean demand periods and sell it to the network for a good price during peak hours. Such an ancillary use has met its share of scrutiny from the experts keeping in view the quantum of transport fleet needed, the infrastructure development and above all the efficiency and environmental concerns. In my view, this concept is possible however it is also an obligation. This not only requires a huge fleet of vehicles with V2G technology in operation but also a synergy between renewable energy sources and electric vehicles, mostly in network management. I think it will be a challenging task for the distribution utilities to get geared up to meet this scenario, especially when it comes to network augmentations, up gradation of existing protection schemes etc. I will be discussing some of these challenges in my next blog.