vtg technology

V2G Technology

Future Challenges & Potential

The Importance of V2G Technology

Occasionally, you may see an EV driving down your street or parked at a shopping plaza. Yet, most of us know very little about them. Electric vehicles offer a sensible, eco-friendly alternative. Yet, only recently has the public started to warm to the idea. High initial cost, limited range and not enough charging stations have slowed progress. Yet, recent technical advancements and aggressive government initiatives have jump started growth. One big contributor to increased interest and optimism is V2G technology. Vehicle to grid has enormous potential to forever change the future of EV development. But, to get an appreciation for what V2G is, let's gain an understanding of both the grid and electric vehicles. Consider this information a prerequisite for comprehending vehicles to grid technology.

Understanding the Grid 

The grid supplies electricity throughout the US and encompasses all phases from production to final distribution. Power plants generate alternating current (AC) by way of transmission and distribution lines. Most conventional homes and businesses are powered by AC electricity provided via the grid. Thus, alternating current is the prevailing form of electricity in America. This is important to understand because all batteries used in electric vehicles are powered by direct current (DC)
grid diagram
  1. Electric power plant generates AC electricity
  2. Transformer steps up AC voltage allowing for faster, more efficient energy flow  
  3. Transmission lines transmit high voltage AC electricity over long distance at a high rate of speed. 
  4. Local Transformer steps down High voltage AC electricity to a more appropriate level for homes and businesses.

How EV's are Powered

Most electric vehicles use AC motors. That’s because AC engines run quieter, require less maintenance and are more energy efficient than direct current. Yet, EV batteries are only capable of storing DC electricity. All electric vehicles come equipped with an onboard charger that converts incoming AC electricity to DC. Because charging with AC requires this extra step, charging times are typically lengthened. Alternatively, charging your EV at a DC charging station eliminates the conversion step and significantly speeds up changing times. Studies show DC charging can increase the rate of battery degradation. Yet, this difference is quite minimal. Various estimates range from 1 % - 2% over long periods of time.
v2g flow chart

What is V2G Technology?

Now that we’ve covered how both the grid and electric vehicle function, it’s time to turn our conversation to V2G. This technology transforms EV’s into more than an eco-friendly form of transportation. These vehicles can now become mobile energy suppliers. Stored energy can be be discharged back to the grid or used as power backup for your home. Ideally, EV owners charge their cars overnight when public need is the lowest. Demands are highest for both for both homes and businesses during the day. At this time, electricity is discharged back to the grid to accommodate greater power needs. This benefits both our electricity infrastructure and consumers. 

How Does V2G Technology Work?

All electric vehicles have the ability to convert AC electricity to DC electricity. V2G technology utilizes a built in bi-directional converter that can also convert DC electricity back to AC electricity. This allows electric vehicles equipped with V2G to discharge energy back to the grid or home if necessary.  Next, we'll discuss why being ability is so important...

Benefits of V2G Technology

  • Grid stabilization: Today's homes and businesses' need for more electricity continues to increase. This puts great stress on our aging, and sometimes overwhelmed infrastructure. Imagine for a moment, the benefit of having millions of V2G equipped vehicles on the road. Incrementally, each vehicle could ease the grid's burden by diverting power back during peak demand periods. 
  • Slow global warming & climate change: EV's with V2G capabilities will help achieve the US government goal of emission free transportation by 2050.
  • Backup  power for your home: Utilizing V2G's bi-directional converter, energy can be discharged from your EV battery back to your home during blackouts or emergency situations.  
  • V2G credits: Credits are available to EV owners as a way to incentivize sending energy back to the grid. Per the department of Energy, EV owners discharging electricity back to the grid may qualify to receive kilowatt-hour credits. Credits will issued will be at the same rate the customer pays to charge their battery.

Challenges & Solutions for to EV & V2G Advancement 

a plan for success
Vehicle to grid has the potential to greatly contribute to our future energy needs and a cleaner environment.  But, many difficult obstacles stand in the way of making EV usage & V2g technology a nationwide reality. Fortunately, thanks to technological advancements along with government and private sector investments, a  blueprint for success is already being laid out. We've reviewed potential roadblocks and viable solutions to each problem.
aging infrastructure

Aging Infrastructure

The Problem: The majority of the US electricity grid was built in the 1960s and 1970s. Transmission lines typically have a lifespan of 50 - 80 years. This means most of these lines are due, or will be due for replacement sooner rather than later. Our nation's aging and inadequate electricity infrastructure will require an enormous overhaul. In addition, a nationwide V2G Technology program will require a vast and intricate communication system. Coordinating interaction between roughly 3,000 utility companies and over 140 million customers will be a major undertaking.
The solution:  In October of 2023, the Department of Energy (DOE) made a major announcement. Funding of up to $3.5 billion will be provided for 58 projects across 44 states to modernize our rapidly deteriorating electricity infrastructure. Extreme weather events believed to be caused by climate change have wreaked havoc with our aging grid. Revitalization of our infrastructure will help prevent future power outages during severe weather events. A stable and reliable grid is also imperative to V2G communication.

Limited Range

ev being charged
The Problem: A recent JD Power study revealed that vehicle range is consumers number one consideration when purchasing an EV. Average range for electric vehicles on the market is around 200 miles. While this number far exceeds the average 40 miles typical Americans drive, for many buyers, this range is too low to create an adequate comfort level. Also, there is a rational fear over the lack of charging stations available for long trips. Imagine driving your gas power automobile across the country not knowing where or when you would see the next  fill up station. When it comes to electric vehicles, there are simply just not enough charging stations to meet the needs of an expanding EV market.
The Solution: According to the International Energy Administration, replacing graphite anodes with silicon anodes can increase battery capacity by 20% - 50%. This could significantly enhance EV range capabilities. Manufacturers are also exploring larger motor sizes or even usage of two motors to allow for longer road trips. In the future, better aerodynamic designs will surely aid energy efficiency. On a national scale, accessibility to more EV charging stations will go a long way towards increasing consumer confidence. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 promises to add 500,000 new EV chargers in the US by 2030. This ambitious program is part of a larger nationwide government initiative to rebuild our nation's eclectic infrastructure.

Communication Delays

The Problem: The eventual transition to greener, renewable sources of power will create a cleaner safer environment. Yet, due to the intermittent nature of solar or wind generated electricity, integration with our existing infrastructure will prove challenging. To be a reliable service. Plug in electric vehicles (PEV's) must have the ability to respond almost immediately to market signals. Even brief delays can disrupt frequency regulation performance. This can ultimately cause problems with balancing energy supply and demand needs.
The Solution: Vehicle-to-grid technology has the ability to offset weather related lulls in energy availability. V2G’s bidirectional power flow can balance supply and demand needs by discharging power back to the grid when needed most. Reductions in power fluctuations will create a more stable and reliable electricity infrastructure. 

Privacy Issues

The Problem: In order to discharge electricity back to the grid and credit EV owners for usage, V2G requires authenticating the EV and owners credentials. While no one disputes the necessity of this process, legitimate concerns over consumer privacy have been a hot topic. Continual access to users personal data and exact whereabouts present possible security threats. A cyber attack or breach of any kind could cause irreparable harm.
The Solution:  The answer lies in the development of an authentication system that maintains the EV owners confidentiality and anonymity. Thus far, little has been done to remedy privacy concerns.  A key factor in V2G viability will be overcoming this obstacle. Earning consumer trust is essential to vehicle to grid successes. 

Battery Degradation

The Problem:  An EV battery is designed to last the entire life of your vehicle. The estimated EV battery life is still 12 - 15 years per the U.S. Department of Energy. This estimate is based on moderate climate conditions. It's important to be aware, EV owners in colder regions may experience faster battery degradation. Yet, regardless of where you live, these power storage units are all prone to capacity depreciation over time. This has a direct impact on EV range and performance. Vehicle to grid usage can further deplete storage capacity. Unlike standard EV's, V2G batteries require both charging and discharging cycles. This extra work can cause your battery to degrade faster resulting in a shorter lifespan. This is especially important when you consider the cost of an electric vehicle's battery can be as much as 40% of the total purchase price.
The Solution:  As mentioned earlier, new higher capacity batteries and EV technology advancements promise to increase performance. That said,  electric vehicle owners can also do their part to slow the depreciation process. Experts state keeping your EV battery charged between 20% and 80%. will help increase its lifespan. While battery degradation will continue to be a concern, careful charging practices and evolving technology will help reduce battery degradation.

High Price of Electric Vehicles

The Problem: The cost of purchasing an EV has dropped considerably, Yet, sticker prices on gas powered vehicles are still lower. While upfront numbers may not always tell the whole story, laying more money down during tough economic times is a tough sell. This is especially true to the millions who still see an aura of mystery surrounding electric vehicles.
The Solution:  Regardless of V2G capabilities, there are already some great incentives to purchase an electric vehicle. Government rebates of up to $7500 are available for purchases of all EV models built in 2023 or later. In addition, Consumer Reports estimates these vehicles cost up to 60% less to fuel than gas powered cars. Furthermore, a number of electric companies have introduced lower rates or even free electricity for charging V2G vehicles at night during off peak hours. Putting cash back in consumers pockets creates a win, win situation. EV batteries with V2G can even serve as back up power for the homes during blackouts or emergencies. 

Political Challenges to Electric Vehicles & V2G 

The Problem: Party lines have long divided the political landscape of electric vehicles. During the remainder of the 2024 presidential champagne, EV's will be a hot topic for debate. Speaking recently at an event in Toledo Ohio, Donald Trump called the Biden administration’s promotion of electric vehicles a “radical plan” that could ruin the auto industry. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) said “President Biden’s EV mandate is completely delusional. It’s foolish. It’s just plain wrong,” even some Democrats are even taking side with Republicans against this aggressive initiative. Much of the debate stems around the notion that this current plan as it stands, would hurt US auto makers while benefiting Chinese manufacturers. Regardless of the final outcome, the future of electric vehicle production is liable to remain in gridlock for the foreseeable future. 
The Solution:  For true progress to be made, Republicans must put aside their philosophical differences and focus on what is right for the country's future energy needs. In an effort to find some middle ground, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, recommends the existing plan be amended to disqualify EVs made with Chinese components from receiving tax creditsThe proposal is meant to appease both sides of the political fence while still making positive progress.  Our hope here is for more open, mindful conversations to take place in the future. A collaborative effort may result in Blue and Red finally combining to make Green!

Making V2G a National Reality -  What's at Stake? 

Implementing a nationwide V2G program will no doubt have considerable challenges. Yet,  this technology will play an essential role in conversion to electric vehicles.  Turning our backs on V2G is not an option if our eventual goal is emission free transportation. Continued reliance on a dwindling supply of fossil fuel will only perpetuate global warming, climate change and dependance of foreign crude oil imports.  Acting now will assure our generation will be remembered as taking a stand being on the right side of history.
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