Vehicle To Grid (V2G) Technology Achieves Milestone Toward Commercialization

Vehicle to Grid (V2G) technology offers what might be characterized as the holy grail for electric vehicles, and the future got a lot closer on March 12 with the news that a bidirectional EV charging system by Fermata Energy was the first such system in the world to earn the UL 9741 safety standard. UL 9741 features the ability to prevent the discharge of energy when a connected device is not capable of safely receiving backfed power and is a critical milestone toward commercial deployment of V2G.

According to Francisco Martinez, business development director of UL’s Energy Systems and eMobility division, “UL’s role in making the most of the stored energy in electric vehicles is to help ensure that this happens safely,” said Martinez.

Photo of Nissan Leaf plugged in to Fermata Energy V2G

The ability of electric vehicles to discharge energy holds great potential because the vehicles tend to have large batteries with more energy than drivers typically need on any given day; moreover, as with most noncommercial passenger vehicles, EVs are are parked an average of 95% of the hours in a year. The combination of having excess energy and being available a large percentage of time results in benefits that will accrue to:

  • The grid, which can use energy from EV batteries to displace higher cost and potentially dirtier energy from power plants when demand for energy is high; and
  • EV owners, who can monetize the energy as it is dispensed (assuming the energy was purchased and stored at a lower cost).

All indications are that V2G is going to introduce significant new resources to the grid. According to comments this week in Berlin by Volkswagen’s chief strategist Michael Jost:

By 2025 [Volkswagen] will have 350 gigawatt hours worth of energy storage at our disposal through our electric car fleet. Between 2025 and 2030 this will grow to 1 terawatt hours worth of storage. That’s more energy than is currently generated by all the hydroelectric power stations in the world. We can guarantee that energy will be used and stored and this will be a new area of business.

Even today’s relatively small number of EVs is providing hundreds of millions of dollars in net revenue to utilities, according to a recent report by Synapse Energy Economics and as illustrated in the following table from the Synapse report:

Table showing net benefits EVs deliver through V2G technology
Total costs and contributions of incremental EV load, 2019-2030.

As vehicles begin to not only consume energy (providing revenues to the system) but also provide value by sending energy back to the grid, the financial and environmental benefits to EV owners, utilities, and all other utility customers will multiply.

“By unlocking the full potential of electric vehicles, Fermata Energy is helping to accelerate the shift to more electric vehicle usage,” said David Slutzky, CEO and founder of Fermata Energy. “We believe bidirectional energy solutions such as Fermata Energy’s V2G system will play an important role in reducing energy costs, improving grid resilience and combating climate change. We’re excited to be the first company to receive UL 9741 certification and look forward to partnering with other organizations to advance V2G applications.”

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EV Charging Network ChargeLab Bets Future on Open Standards and Interoperability

Electric vehicle charging network provider ChargeLab announced this week that eligible multi-family communities and office buildings in Canada can receive EV charger installations for $0 in upfront costs.

Canada’s new Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP) program (funded by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)) offers 50% of the total project cost, up to a maximum of $5 million. And for a limited time, ChargeLab is matching NRCan’s contribution for eligible projects, bringing the upfront deployment cost for buildings to $0. These investments are subject to repayment over time based on pay-per-use fees generated by the EV chargers installed.

Innovative financing models like this signal the expectation that while limited co-investment by the public sector may be required in the short run, over the long run EV charging will be a successful commercial venture. As described in the video below by ChargeLab CEO Zachary Lefevre, one of the company’s distinguishing features is its support of interoperability and open standards such as Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). OCPP avoids vendor-lock by allowing station owners to switch networks by simply downloading new software over the air.

In the absence of open and interoperable hardware and networks, station owners such as apartment and office building landlords may incur steep costs, including potentially replacement of the entire charger, just to switch networks. The position taken by ChargeLab, which is that customers should be able to have options about which network to run on a charger, and which is consistent with that of other networks including Greenlots and Driivz, is highly favorable to customers and will serve the industry well.

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Porsche Opens Europe’s Most Powerful Charging Hub

Photo of Porsche Turbo Charging, Rapid-charging park, Leipzig, 2020.

Porsche this week announced the expansion of its charging hub in Leipzig, Germany. The location is home to twelve DC fast chargers, each with a nameplate rating of 350 kW, as well as four 22 kW AC chargers. All energy is produced from renewable resources.

“The new charging park between the number 9, 14 and 38 motorways will significantly enrich the charging infrastructure in central Germany. Electric and hybrid vehicles of all brands are welcome”,

 Gerd Rupp, Chairman of the Board of Management of Porsche Leipzig GmbH

The DC fast chargers, which use the CCS plug format, are capable of providing about 60 miles of range in as little as five minutes. This extreme charging speed will enable drivers to complete their journey with minimal downtime, and will also enable each charger to serve a large number of vehicles per day.

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Another 100% Electric Pickup Joins the Pack

Photo of Nikola Badger 100% Electric Pickup Truck

This week brings an announcement by Nikola Motor Company that the 100% electric Badger pickup truck will make its first appearance later this year. The Badger will join what is becoming a crowded field of high-end zero-emission pickups including:

  • Cybertruck by Tesla
  • Hummer by General Motors
  • R1T by Rivian

Nikola’s fully electric pickup, which is expected to have a range of 300 miles, will be equipped for both camping and job sites with features such as a 15-kilowatt power outlet for tools, lights and compressors. Nikola is also developing a fully electric heavy duty truck with an expected range of 800 miles.

Ford Mustang All-Electric Mach-E “First Edition” Sells Out in Five Weeks

Photo of Mustang Mach-E

The First Edition of the fully electric Mustang Mach-E by Ford Motor Company is officially sold out. Despite not delivering until the end of 2020, the company received 50,000 deposits in the last five weeks of 2019. Other models such as the Premium edition and the GT are still available for pre-order.

Here are some data points from Ford’s reservations bank:

  • Carbonized Gray is the most popular choice at 38%; Grabber Blue Metallic is second at 35% and Rapid Red third at 27%
  • More than 80% of U.S. customers are reserving the Mach-E with a 98.8 kWh Extended Range Battery that will charge at a rate up to 150 kW and is targeted to deliver a 270 mile range
  • About 55% are opting for all-wheel drive featuring peak power of 248 kW/332 HP and peak torque of 417 lb.-ft.
  • Almost 30% of U.S. customers are choosing the Mach-E GT, expected to arrive in the spring of 2021 and targeting 0 to 60 in the mid three second range!
  • More than a quarter of all reservations are coming from California

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EV Incentives Introduced In Vermont

Picture of Vermont State House in Montpelier, Vermont.

The State of Vermont today launched an incentive program for the purchase or lease of new plug-in electric vehicles, which includes all-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Vermont is far behind its goal of more than 50,000 plug-in vehicles by 2025.

More than 20 plug-in models are eligible for the program, with $1500 incentives for plug-in hybrid vehicles and $2500 incentives for fully electric vehicles. Larger incentives are available for individuals whose households qualify for Vermont’s Weatherization Program. (All incentives in this program are limited to individuals with an annual household income of $92,000 or less applying for a new PEV with a base price of $40,000 or less).

The new state incentive will be in addition to rebates proposed by Green Mountain Power (currently under review by the Vermont Public Utility Commission), which would equal $1000 for plug-in hybrids, $1500 for new fully electric vehicles, and $750 for pre-owned EVs, each of which will be supplemented by a free networked EV charger valued at $600.

Although the total cost of owning (i.e., purchasing and operating) an EV is already below that of an internal combustion-powered vehicle, higher up-front costs remain a barrier for some. These incentives will reduce that cost and are expected to result in increased vehicle sales.

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Report Finds Electric Trucks and Buses Both Economical and Critical to Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Image of driver charging a Volvo electric concept truck.

From garbage trucks to transit buses to “big rigs,” heavy-duty vehicles powered by diesel are a major source of air pollution. Emissions from these vehicles have been linked to adverse health impacts and are a significant contributor to global warming.

But a new report finds that trucks and buses powered by electricity can deliver a litany of benefits, including mitigating climate change. The report, by Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the California Electric Transportation Coalition, concludes that electric trucks and buses:

  1. Can deliver the largest reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution (transportation accounts for 50 percent of all GHG emissions and 80-90 percent of smog forming pollutants when fuel production emissions are included);
  2. Will be cost competitive by 2030; and
  3. Will create the greatest economic benefits when compared to other emission reduction strategies for heavy-duty trucks and buses.

Improving Air Quality

Electrifying the heavy duty vehicle market can have a huge impact on air quality. According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, despite comprising just 10 percent of vehicles on American roads, heavy-duty vehicles contribute 28 percent of global warming emissions from the nation’s on-road transportation sector. They are also responsible for 45 percent of on-road NOx emissions (oxides of nitrogen) and 57 percent of on-road, direct PM2.5 emissions (particulate matter less than 2.5 micro-meters in diameter). And on-road sources of air pollution disproportionately burden communities of color and low-income communities due to their proximity to roads and vehicular traffic. Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latinos are exposed to 34 percent, 24 percent, and 23 percent more PM2.5 pollution (respectively) from cars, trucks, and buses than the national average.

A Cost Effective Solution

On the subject of cost, the report finds that by 2030 the lifetime cost of EV ownership is expected to be lower than diesel even without purchase subsidies. Until then, subsidies may be required to be cost competitive with diesel. According to research from the California Air Resources Board and others, in nearly every vehicle case examined, including long-haul semi trucks, battery-electric trucks and buses are cheaper than diesel vehicles on a total-cost-of-ownership basis for vehicles purchased within the next 10 years.

In the meantime, according to Jimmy O’Dea of the Union of Concerned Scientists, “significant investments must be made in electric vehicles and infrastructure now to support the transition to zero emission trucks and buses.”

Driver Benefits

Driver Henrik Sundberg below describes his experience of making deliveries over 80 days with a fully electric vehicle from Volvo Trucks.


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Multi-Billion Dollar Battery Investment Signals Big EV Future

Image of General Motors battery assembly line

General Motors and LG Chem announced today they will invest $2.3 billion to set up an electric vehicle (EV) battery cell joint venture plant in Ohio, creating one of the world’s largest battery facilities. The plant, to be built at a new site near GM’s closed assembly plant in Lordstown in northeast Ohio, will employ more than 1,100 people and have an annual capacity of more than 30 gigawatt hours with the flexibility to expand.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra said the investment in the Ohio battery plant will accelerate the automaker’s initiative to introduce 20 new EVs globally by 2023. “General Motors believes in the science of global warming and believes in an all-electric future,” she said.

Barra added that the new battery cells will be used in a new GM electric pickup which will start production in fall 2021 at the company’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

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Electric Vehicle Charging Can Save All Utility Customers Hundreds of Dollars

A study of Southern California Edison (SCE) customers finds that electric vehicle (EV) batteries used as a “virtual power plant” can shift the entire residential peak load to nighttime hours by using energy stored in batteries during the day and managing charging at night with EV market penetration of only 10 percent. Moreover, annual net savings were $560/EV customer.

Smoothing the utility’s load reduces all customers’ costs because peaks require additional power plants to be dispatched; when plants are dispatched only during peaks, the annual cost must be covered during a relatively small number of hours, which results in higher electricity prices for everyone.

The finding that a small EV market share can completely clip the residential peak (see charts below) and save participants $560/year even after paying for overnight charging has long been suspected but the study, by Jerry Jackson, provides highly credible evidence.

This important discovery highlights savings that help offset today’s higher EV sticker price. Meanwhile, for non-EV customers, lowering the system peak reduces the cost of electricity and supports the case for utilities investing in EV charging infrastructure.

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Shop Class Reinvented for Electric Vehicle Era

Image of teacher and student in front of VW Cabriolet being converted to electric power.
Ron Grosinger and one of his students, Isamara Lozano, pose in front of electric-powered 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet.

As technology and STEM-focused curricula become ever more important, high school automotive shop classes have been suffering dwindling interest from teachers and students alike. Enter Ronald Grosinger, of Memorial High School in New Jersey, who figured out how to reposition the vocationally oriented course to appeal to a broader audience and prepare students for a wide range of career paths. “If you’re teaching students about gasoline cars, that’s basically the equivalent of 8-track players,” says Grosinger.

Grosinger persuaded his school to purchase a 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet so that his class could remove the internal combustion engine, install batteries, and rebuild the vehicle to be powered by electricity.

Photo of Volkswagen Cabriolet converted to electric power.

Over time, the students learned how to produce the various mechanical parts in cardboard, then wood, then steel. They welded parts, tackled wiring and learned to solve problems as they arose. Within a year, the student makeup of the class had expanded to include advanced math, science, physics and engineering students. Also, there were many more female students.

The curriculum has evolved over the past ten years, and now is structured around what Grosinger calls the Four Cornerstones of Engineering: Electrical, Fabrication, Design, and Mechanical.

Photo of chalk board containing electrical engineering drawings.

The department has expanded to four teachers, the school added an after-school automotive program, and several of Grosinger’s students have gone on to work in the automotive field. “Teachers should encourage students to explore new and more efficient ways to move a person from point A to point B, whether that system is a train with solar panels on it, a car with an electric motor in it or retrofitting an existing technology with a different energy source,” says Grosinger. “And don’t come up with the solutions for the students.”

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