The world is entering a period of rapid buildout of EV charging infrastructure. Average total cost of EV ownership is falling below that of comparable internal combustion vehicles while EV adoption rates continue to trend upwards. Expect to see more and more electric vehicle chargers in parking lots and gas stations.
Porticos has broad experience in the engineering design of electric vehicle chargers. In this series of posts we’ll explore the intricacies of electric vehicle chargers from the perspective of new product development.
Read Previous Post: DC Chargers
Welcome back to Electric Vehicle Chargers, A Development Perspective.
So far we’ve looked at AC and DC Chargers, but EV charging can do a lot more. Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology encompasses a range of communication and charging interaction capabilities between EVs and various entities. Electric vehicles have the potential to become integral players in the broader energy ecosystem through these developments.
In Part IV of this series, the focus is on bidirectional charging/V2X, shedding light on its role within the Smart Grid and Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), the benefits and costs for customers, the current state of the technology, and market segments from a manufacturer’s viewpoint.
Achieving a “Smart” Grid
As energy technologies continue to advance the ability to communicate with devices and understand load has become increasingly important. To help address these issues, the Department of Energy is working on a “Smart Grid.” The Smart Grid allows utilities to use Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) to achieve 2-way communications, both sensing and controlling usage.
Bidirectional charging holds immense promise for Smart Grid and AMI. In this context, electric vehicles can become dynamic energy resources, enabling utilities to manage peak demand by tapping into the stored energy in EV batteries during periods of high electricity consumption. This can help balance the grid, reduce strain on power generation, and avoid blackouts.
To achieve these goals, bidirectional charging technology must offer seamless integration with the existing grid infrastructure. EV chargers must be able to communicate effectively with utilities through advanced communication protocols. These connections will allow real-time data exchange and effective grid optimization.
The Smart Grid is still in development and work remains in developing bidirectional charging guidelines and best practices. Standardized communication protocols and regulatory frameworks are required to ensure connections and accuracy across different bidirectional charging systems. Addressing these challenges will be critical to achieving a fully effective Smart Grid.
From a customer’s perspective, bidirectional charging offers a range of benefits above and beyond those inherent in EV ownership.
With a home charger, EV owners become active participants in the energy ecosystem, capable of contributing excess energy back to the grid or using it to power their homes. This empowers customers to take control of their energy consumption and allows them to reduce their electricity bills and earn incentives from utilities. While bidirectional-capable EVs may carry a slightly higher upfront cost, the potential for energy savings and revenue generation could offset this initial investment.
For customers in the market for a bidirectional EV, there are several key features to look out for. User-friendly interfaces are important for customers monitoring and controlling their energy flows. These systems should also help provide clear information about financial benefits. Finally, seamless integration with home energy management systems is of critical importance.
Manufacturer Standards and Innovations
Manufacturers are actively developing revolutionary bidirectional charging solutions, creating unique and standardized solutions with the assistance of technical committees and governing bodies. Some of the latest advancements:
- Standardization of ISO 15118-20:2022, which includes “functions for the electric vehicles to be utilized as distributed energy resources, which enable smoothing of the electricity load of the supply network for higher energy efficiency and also provide power back to the grid.”
This standardization facilitates interoperability and ensures a cohesive ecosystem where different bidirectional charging systems can seamlessly communicate and exchange energy
- Automotive OEMs announcing their adoption of the North American Charging Standard (NACS)
- NACS being officially standardized as SAE J3400
These hardware and protocol standards will be crucial in shaping the bidirectional charging landscape and guiding manufacturers toward creating reliable and compatible systems.
With initial standardizations, manufacturers can set their sights on the exciting challenge of catering to diverse market segments. Fleet operators, for instance, can leverage bidirectional charging to enhance the resilience of their operations. By utilizing EVs as mobile energy resources, fleets can optimize energy distribution, provide backup power, and even participate in demand response programs.
Individual consumers, on the other hand, are increasingly interested in bidirectional charging’s potential to transform their homes into hubs of sustainable energy. For this segment, manufacturers are tasked with designing user-friendly systems that connect with residential energy management setups.
While the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) market demand is increasing, it’s important to note that the landscape is still evolving, and other market niches persist. Technologies such as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) energy sharing are also vying for attention. V2V charging enables direct energy exchange between EVs, fostering localized energy communities and enabling peer-to-peer energy trading.
In this rapidly evolving environment, manufacturers must strike a balance between adhering to standards, meeting market demands, and pushing the boundaries of innovation. The bidirectional charging market is poised for growth, and manufacturers continue to refine their offerings and embrace emerging standards. The future of a smarter grid with energy-sharing looks increasingly promising.
Bidirectional charging represents a significant step forward in the convergence of the transportation and energy sectors. From the utility perspective, it holds the promise of a more resilient and efficient grid. Customers stand to gain greater control over their energy usage and costs, and manufacturers are driving innovation to cater to diverse market segments. As technology continues to evolve and standards mature, bidirectional charging has the potential to transform our energy landscape and pave the way for a cleaner, smarter, and more connected future.