Vehicle-to-grid technology: It could be a smart idea for smart cities

Fri, 2016-09-02 11:45 -- Doug Peeples

When the concept of vehicle-to-grid technology was first proposed in 1997, and for years afterward, the idea of using electric vehicles as storage batteries to help balance electric grids was seen by at least some as unrealistic, far-fetched. And an Enel executive readily conceded that the idea of commercializing V2G even a few short years ago also would have seemed unrealistic. But it seems the landscape has changed. Enel is recognized as a pioneer in smart electric grid technology and its partners in the Denmark project are equally forward-thinking. If you're not familiar with V2G and how it could benefit your city, the story below should answer some of your questions. — Doug Peeples

Denmark electric utility Frederiksberg Forsyning now has bragging rights for having what multinational energy company Enel says is the world's first completely commercial V2G hub. It's the result of a collaboration between car maker Nissan, V2G services provider Nuvve and Council Associate Partner Enel. Launched earlier this week, the system will provide grid operator with a new way to help balance its electric grid network.

"Only a few years ago, the idea of commercializing V2G would have seemed unrealistic," said Ernesto Ciorra, head of Innovation and Sustainability for Enel. "Now we have a fully functioning hub of EVs delivering balancing services to the Danish grid. With V2G we can enhance grid stability, further enabling the integration of renewables into the generation mix, which is the core of Enel's overall energy strategy. V2G is one of the sustainable innovation areas that is taking us towards a low carbon society for the benefit of present and future generations."

Frederiksberg Forsyning, the partnership's first customer, is integrating and hosting 10 V2G units at its Copenhagen headquarters and has bought 10 Nissan all-electric eNV200 vans to add to the company fleet. When not being used, the

vans are plugged into V2G units and are either charging their batteries or discharging them to the electric grid on demand. Essentially, the vans are mobile storage batteries for the electric grid. The 10 units provide a total of about 100 kW of power. A well-designed EV can provide about 10 kW of electricity, about the same as the average power demand of 10 homes.

Nuvve's platform controls power flow to and from the cars, and that dual power flow is made possible by Enel's V2G chargers connected to the Nissan vehicles. In the future, Energinet wants to adapt its grid network to better integrate EVs and use V2G on a broader scale.

And partners Enel, Nissan and Nuvve are confident enough in their system that they plan to roll out numerous V2G projects using both commercial and standard vehicles in Denmark and additional countries in the near future. The companies involved in the initial installation expect to publish their findings on the project later in the year.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.