More customers are looking to buy an electric vehicle. Some customers are concerned about the environment, avoiding problems & costs at the gas station, while others want the latest tech. These are some of the major motivators for customers to buy EVs (electric vehicles). But there may be another emerging technology that motivates customers even more than these—it’s called bidirectional charging.
What is Bidirectional Charging?
Today, most EVs use unidirectional charging. Unidirectional charging is a process that takes alternating current electricity (AC) from the grid and converts it to direct current (DC) to charge the electric vehicle’s battery.
On the other hand, bidirectional charging makes the charging process two ways. With bidirectional charging, electricity flows from the grid to charge the EV, and it can flow from the EV back to the grid. That’s great, but bidirectional charging can do even more. It not only has the ability to send power back to the grid, but it can also send electricity into a home, office building, or to appliances.
With bidirectional charging, it’s necessary to convert DC back to AC through a dedicated charger or inverter in the vehicle.
In effect, bidirectional charging makes it possible for electric vehicles to do much more than just take you for a ride.
The Terminology & Descriptions of Charging Types
Bidirectional charging makes it possible to send electricity vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H). But the goal is to do even more with EV batteries. The aim is to use V2G to supply large amounts of electricity from EV batteries to balance energy demands and the grid.
It’s possible that the technology could be used to optimise energy use based on time of day and utility costs. For instance, during peak use hours, EVs could be used to return power to the grid. However, they can be charged again during off-peak times and at a lower cost.
With V2H, the vehicle’s battery is used to power a home or building. The aim here is to lessen demand on the grid and use the battery as a backup source of energy during a power outage. Some are even viewing V2H as a way to save money if the electric vehicle can supply power to a home during peak hours when utility rates are the highest.
So, it’s possible that an EV could send electricity back to the grid and save its owner money on electricity costs. But things can get even more creative with EV batteries.
V2L charging uses an EV battery to provide AC power to charge home appliances and large electronic devices. However, V2L doesn’t use a bidirectional charger. It uses an integrated inverter to send power to a device.
Experts believe bidirectional charging will be used in the next few years as more EVs are bought and offer the technology. By then, the hope is that the grid will be better able to support bidirectional charging.
V2X is the Future
Experts have also said that EV manufacturers are working on V2X (vehicle-to-everything) capabilities. This system integrates all bidirectional charging outlined earlier. More EV manufacturers are excited about this possibility and are gearing up to incorporate V2X in their future electric vehicles.
The Current State of EV Charging
While many EVs currently offer bidirectional charging, most EVs use smart charging, known as V1G. This type of charging makes it possible to control the charging of EVs in a manner that allows the power to be increased or decreased as needed.
But bidirectional charging makes it possible for EVs to push their power back to the grid from their car batteries. This process works to balance variations in energy production and consumption (as noted earlier). But why is this so important?
V2G & the Climate
V2G is a great way to help slow climate change. The process allows our energy grid to balance more renewable energy, which can sometimes be unstable for various reasons (such as weather). However, V2G must be focused on decarbonization, energy efficiency, and electrification.
Decarbonization is the process of using renewable energy sources, including solar and wind power. However, the problem is how to store this renewable energy. Energy from renewable sources must be used at the source or stored for later use. With the growth of renewable energy sources, our energy system becomes more volatile, and we must find ways to balance and store the energy it produces.
EVs are another way to reduce carbon, and their batteries are one of the most cost-effective forms of energy storage. With V2G the battery capacity can also be used more efficiently. In the future, V2X will turn EV charging from an electrical demand response to a battery solution. This charging type makes it possible to use the battery 10 times more efficiently compared to unidirectional smart charging.
Possible Challenges to V2G
One of the main challenges to V2G is that continual charging and discharging can shorten the life of the EV’s battery, though it depends on the brand and model. In some cases, the EV battery may need to be replaced as often as every 5 years. In the UK, the cost could be about £2,600 and more for a new EV battery. That’s a significant cost to vehicle owners.
Summing It Up
More research is needed to ensure that V2G is feasible and practical for the future. If the technology works correctly, it could have dramatic impacts on the grid by keeping energy use balanced and providing a way to store and use energy from renewable sources.
V2G is possible today with various models of EVs. Our vehicles are now becoming part of the system that makes up our home network. By storing energy for future use and balancing the grid’s current demands, EVs can become a useful tool that’s used not only for transportation but also for keeping our homes and businesses powered while reducing climate change and harm to the environment. What could be better than that?