Before Diving In: Kasselman Solar as a company has a longstanding history of covering news in the renewable sector with a critical lens. We add disclaimers when writing opinionated articles, create resources for potential solar customers that may not purchase from our company, and simplify complicated solar lingo for the better of the industry. This can particularly be seen in our Solar Batteries vs. Generators (where we add a disclaimer on our bias) and in our Leasing vs. Buying page (where we spoke critically of leasing, a long standing profitable form of solar for companies not customers).
We’re pointing this out now because the subject of Bidirectional EV charging is a hot topic in global news as well as the renewable sector. The potential that Bidirectional EV charging has is immense; it could literally create a global change in how energy is created, stored, and used.
However, there are still years of trialing, testing, and measuring the results of bidirectional EV charging before it sees large scale adoption, so take the news of EV charging being around the corner with a grain of salt. While it will be incredible for the renewable energy industry, here at Kasselman Solar we have always rooted ourselves firmly in practicality, and want all those who enter the renewable sphere to know exactly what to expect.
Quick Read - 5 Minute Read
New car commercials slate bidirectional EV charging as around the corner, but there’s still a lot to be tested.
Bidirectional EV charging has exciting application for both the grid and your home.
A lot of testing has to happen before wide-scale adoption of bidirectional EV charging.
The Electric Vehicle Race Has Officially Begun
Superbowl LVI brought us many new exciting announcements in the renewables industry, including quite a few new Electrical Vehicles (EVs) for potential customers to consider. These announcements closely follow Ford’s announcement of the all electric F-150 Lightning1 , and their partnership with Sunrun as their preferred installer means the new frontier of electric powered vehicles has new major players.
Manufacturers including BMW, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, and Polestar announced all electric powered vehicles this super bowl. This means the industry specific EV makers of Rivian, Lucid, and Tesla now have serious competition from the old dogs of the automotive industry. But not all EVs are created equal, and the research required to choose the right vehicle for you just got even harder.
While nice commercials can get consumers hyped for the future of transportation, those with a critical eye need to start asking important, future industry defining questions. And one of the most important questions for the automotive industry will not only define its own industry, but the utility industry as well.
Bidirectional EV Charging
Bidirectional electric vehicle charging is the act of having an EV discharge its battery to power other electrical devices. This discharge could have many applications, but primarily the potential is focused on powering homes during a power outage (both individual homes and the creation of virtual power plants) and offsetting electrical costs during peak demand hours.
Let’s dissect the question of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) as a solution to peak demand hours of electricity. Peak demand hours are the period of time when the grid is dispersing the most electricity, when demand is high and so is the price. Thusly, the battery in an EV can be used to discharge its electricity to offset the burden to grid during peak usage hours. Of course, the utility company would pay the vehicle owner for the usage of the battery as well as the power used during the interaction.
While not all states in the US have charges for usage during peak demand hours, the general trend for the US grid is bleeding towards enacting such charges as the world electrifies. After all, electrifying all light-duty vehicles in the US alone would increase annual electrical demand by 25%.2
Once V2G has been implemented it would also give access to EV owners to enter Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) programs to increase grid stability during brownouts or blackouts. The theory behind VPPs is to have multiple EV batteries and home backup batteries send power to local grids to keep them operational when larger grids fail.3
The principle of powering homes during blackouts with EVs (known as Vehicle-to-Home or V2H) in essence utilizes EVs as mobile battery backup system for a home. Products like the Wallbox Quasar 2 boast the ability to both power EVs from the grid as well as powering a home or grid from the EV, serving as the connection from the grid to the battery.
What We Make Of All Of It
A lot to be excited about in the future right? Perhaps. What needs to be stressed the most is that many of the points discussed in this article are still theories. The philosophy and method behind them are sound, but many have yet to be tested in large scale scenarios. The commercials advertising bidirectional EV charging are often still taking pre-orders for their new trucks and SUV’s, with plenty of months of testing ahead of them before being fully rolled out to the public. And that can be seen in the small print at the bottom of the commercial reading “Based on manufacturer tested using computer engineering simulations. Calculated via peak performance of the electric motor(s) at peak battery power. Your results may vary.”
The earliest we could see small adoption of these theories is early 20225 via Volkswagen combined with the Quasar Wallbox 2. Both Kia and Hyundai will be following suit as their newest vehicle platforms were built with bidirectional EV charging in mind as well.
Our advice? Take everything you see with a grain of salt. Bidirectional EV charging isn’t a question of if, it’s a question of when. Utilities and car manufactures have a lot of details to iron out before V2G or V2H see wide scale adoption. Bidirectional Electric Vehicle charging will be a key factor in future energy independence, and give dual purpose to EV’s as both a method of transportation as well as a battery backup system for their home and grid.