If enough vehicles were plugged into the grid, their batteries could help supply power during the few minutes of peak time each day when electricity demand puts a strain on available supply. Now, utilities turn to dirty power generators to pick up that slack—but using EV batteries as a power reserve for frequency regulation would be cheaper, cleaner, and would benefit the consumer as well.
“As a homeowner I could get a few hundred dollars a month to let them use my batteries for less than an hour total per day,” Freund said. “It’s conceptually not rocket science.”
But the familiar barriers mean this vehicle-to-grid () connection model also has a ways to go before becoming reality. First and foremost, the realization of the V2G vision would require updated smart grid technology that could handle increased power capacity from plugged-in vehicles. It would also require a central command post or aggregator to control the flow of power from grid-connected EVs.
“Any change to the infrastructure means expenses for the utilities. And they don’t want to rush something that’s expensive for them,” Freund said. “The infrastructure needs to be boosted, protocols and standards need to be set, and that will take time.”
Car makers have some time to figure out the logistics. While President Obama has called for 1 million PHEVs on the road by 2015, sales are only now beginning to grow, so it will likely be over a decade before the country finds itself with a significant number of used batteries on its hands.