Report: Electric car batteries could power the grid

Electric vehicles could provide the solution to intermittency in solar power generation, according to researchers.

A report from Pike Research in Boulder, Colo., released earlier this week, suggests that electric car batteries may be able to reverse feed the grid during peak energy demand.

“Vehicle–to-Grid services are now being studied as a method for using an [electric vehicle’s] batteries to support the reliability of the power grid,” stated the report.

John Gartner, the report author, has been writing about electric vehicles and energy storage for several years.

“I noticed a trend where the industry is developing products around the synergies between solar, energy storage and electric vehicles,” Gartner said.

He did some involved research for Pike and found that electric vehicles will likely grow in popularity and account for about 285,000 cars on the road in the United States by 2015.

“These vehicles will spur the sale of 4.7-million units of charging equipment, including residential equipment and standalone charging stations during the period from 2010 to 2015,” wrote Gartner, in the report. “Pike Research forecasts that annual revenue from electric-vehicle-charging equipment will reach $1.8 billion in 2015.”

The cool thing is that people and utility companies will be able to take advantage of the energy storage capabilities that the advanced batteries in these electric cars will have.

“Electric vehicles would likely store energy from residential solar systems along with overnight charging at low cost when necessary,” Gartner said. “They would sell power back to the grid at peak times, most likely in the early afternoon to late evenings.”

The vehicle-to-grid services would probably first be adopted with fleets of vehicles because they’ll be able to aggregate a larger volumes of power, Gartner said.

“We don’t expect [electric vehicles] to sell power back to the grid in any large volumes until the second half of the decade,” Gartner said.

The most likely candidates among electric-vehicle owners for selling power back to the grid will be those with solar arrays because they will already have the inverter systems needed to reverse the power flow and will have a power-purchase agreement with their local utilities already established.

Image courtesy of Toyota Industries.