To Make EVs Cost Effective, Make Them Part Of The Grid

The idea of vehicle-to-grid technology (where idle electric cars use power from their battery to help power other things) has yet to take off, but the military is about to try it. If it works, it might be the best way to lower the price of electric cars for everyone.

The idea of "vehicle to grid" (V2G) is to use electric cars as a grid back-up resource, reducing the need for dirty "peaker stations," and providing owners with a little extra cash.

But the concept could also help offset the currently high cost of EVs against conventional vehicles.

The Pentagon recently announced a $20 million program to lease 500 EVs at six of its installations. The EVs, which include passenger cars, trucks, and buses, will cost between $30,000 to $100,000, but supply as much as $7,300 a year in power back to the grid, potentially making EVs a more reasonable investment.

"It could mean we get the vehicles at no cost, which—if we are able to—would change the industry and would certainly help the American public," Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy, and environment, told the Federal Times.

For example, the Air Force plans to replace 43 gas and diesel power vehicles with EVs, and then build charging stations to send power back to the grid, when necessary. A Pentagon study indicates that an electric sedan might earn as much as $150 a month, if a utility could call on the battery for 73% of time it is not in use.

"If it’s true that we can knock off thousands of dollars a year on a leased vehicle, it makes an awfully compelling case to move forward much more broadly," says Camron Gorguinpour, special assistant to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment, and logistics.

Instead of a premium purchase, maybe we’ll come to see EVs as an investment in the grid’s reliability.

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  • Ian louden

    There is a reasonable chance that when your EV is plugged in to the the grid it will be charging, when there is a sudden demand that the grid has to cope with the answer is simple, pause the charging cycle of EV's until the demand "falls off", this will reduce the grid load to the point that firing up "dirty" generators wont be needed and pumping vast quantities of water up hill when there is a sudden lack of demand will become a thing of the past. all we need is more EV's on the roads and of course all charge points having the ability to be controlled remotely (not just public charge points, but all of them!). The EV will become the grid's "saviour" and make electricity generation more efficient and cleaner (you wont see a reduction in your electricity costs though!).

    Many years ago the electricity industry managed to ban the use of thyristor based power supplies in consumer electrical equipment as they were deforming the mains waveform. maybe the industry will do the same to have the ability to manage charge points and ultimately the grid load? they need a solution to the impending problem and to date this is the only one available!

  • N.R.

    This has been talked about for a long time.  There is a very specific piece of pricing data missing in the current proposal, and that is the impact of this additional use on the battery pack.  Given the state of the technology, batteries are at present very good but not great.  Each charge/discharge cycle of the battery (even at PSOC) has a "cost" to the owner of the pack.

    For example, a mobile battery can be charged 700 - 1000 times before it loses enough capacity to be considered spent.  Connecting vehicles to the grid essential will use battery cycles for something other than the battery was intended.  Thus, if pricing is done specifically at power prices – which the comparisons use to achieve peaker plant comparisons – that does not include the cost to the owner of the battery for the cycle usage.

    In the best case, an advanced battery can be charged 10,000 times at PSOC operation (which is what grid engagement would presumably be).  If that battery pack was installed at a a cost of $25k, each PSOC operation is $2.50 in depreciated value.  When that is included in the calculation, the cost of this "solution" goes up significantly.