Clean Disruption: How Electric Vehicles Can Drive Renewable Energy Forward
An electric car, in essence, is just a giant battery on wheels.
As mentioned in a previous newsletter (Cleantech Rising), energy storage is vital for renewable energy so that we have power when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind isn’t blowing.
But what if we could use the batteries in our Teslas, Priuses, Volts, and i3s to make 100% renewable energy a reality?
Cars Taking AND Giving Power
Feeding renewable energy into the electricity grid (‘the grid’) has been a royal rock in the grid’s shoe. Energy demand doesn’t match up with supply. The sun clocks out for the day when everyone gets home and turns on all sorts of energy-consuming devices, exactly when electricity is needed most.
Batteries make up the backbone of countless technologies, and they could do the same for renewable energy. Cleantech visionaries believe that batteries in our electric vehicles (EVs) could not only take energy from the grid but could also give energy back to it.
Our car batteries could store the solar and wind power that’s fed into the grid and we could utilize that energy later when we need it most.
To make this reality possible, we’ll need many EVs connected to the grid at any given time, and the rapidly increasing sales of Teslas and other electric cars sets the stage for this future.
So how would this system work?
The idea is for car batteries to stabilize the grid’s spikes in electricity demand. Car batteries would soak up the sun’s energy throughout the day while solar power is abundant, then offer that excess energy to the grid whenever they’re parked and plugged in.
According to The Grid, by Grettchen Bakke, “41% of the electricity used in the US is used by buildings. If an electric car were to make itself available to whatever building it’s adjacent to, whether an office building or a home, the demand would shift with people. So as people leave work and drive home, they take their electricity box with them.”
This system in which electric vehicles both give and take electricity from the grid is known as V2G (vehicle-to-grid).
It’s an ingenious system because the car batteries fill up with renewable energy while you’re at work, whether that be in a traditional office building or at a coffee shop or at the beach, then you take that energy and plug in at home to power all your LED lights, your laundry machines, your turbo juicer, and your Bitcoin mining server.
This may run your car battery dry, but that’s ok because the grid will charge it up as the demand for electricity drops while you and everyone else snoozes throughout the night. The sun arises and your car awaits your morning commute with a full battery.
What a Vehicle-to-Grid Future Looks Like
Hold your horses, V2G isn’t plausible just yet… we must improve battery technology in order for this system to work because tapping batteries so often will quickly wear them out. Figuring out how to properly feed electricity from EVs back to the grid is another obstacle.
But once the obstacles to create the V2G system have been surmounted, free-market capitalists can rejoice because electricity will become more privatized. People could produce solar electricity on their rooftops and use their cars to store it — people would no longer be required to purchase energy from the public utility company.
The public utility could become car owners’ partner in distributing electricity and actually pay people for their help. As mentioned in The Grid, owning an electric car becomes like owning a little money factory. All you have to do is make sure the car is always plugged in.
Los Angeles Air Force Base has made this a reality and created the largest operational V2G system in the world.
Act on Climate
Time to look into purchasing an electric car? You’ll get a $7,500 U.S. federal tax credit for doing so, plus a state tax credit in certain states. Check out how much money you can save by buying an electric car!
SOURCE: Cleantech Rising