It is logical to think of an electric vehicle (EV) as a device that consumes power. After all, it is a car that runs on electricity.
What is slightly less intuitive but equally brilliant is to also think of it as a source of power and, taking that concept a step further, to use it as an ancillary device that supports the grid.
It is the nature of today’s energy innovators to consider every angle, and EV technology is no exception. According to a recent report by the Boulder, Colo.-based market research firm Navigant, so-called vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies are starting to become profitable.
Navigant reports that the history of V2G technology roughly parallels the history of modern EVs, but only recently has the technology started to gain some traction. The report, “Vehicle to Grid Technologies,” projects that, while the market is minuscule today, it will grow steadily over the next 10 years as revenue-generating applications catch on.
V2G technology enables an EV to function as an ancillary device for the electric grid by using its generating source to return excess power at peak times. According to participants at the University of Delaware, which is involved in extensive research on the subject, one properly designed EV can put out more than 10 kilowatts, comparable to the average draw of 10 houses.
Navigant says a number of factors are helping to lay the groundwork for the expansion of V2G technology. Large corporations, government agencies and certain markets overseas are embracing the concept. For example, the U.S. Department of Defense invested around $20 million in 2013 to install 500 V2G-enabled plug-in EVs at bases in certain U.S. electricity markets. Demonstration projects using fleet vehicles in the United States, Western Europe and Japan are beginning to show returns. Developing economies such as China are expected to adopt electricity market structures and rules that enable greater opportunities for V2G technologies to help make their grids more efficient. Finally, the technology could benefit from the expansion of wind and solar power, which has increased the demand for energy storage and frequency regulation.
Based on these factors, Navigant forecasts global V2G technology revenue to reach $190.7 million by 2022, up from less than $900,000 in 2013.