Nissan and two European energy companies are looking to develop technology that will allow power stored in EV batteries to be sold back to the grid.  Nissan photo.

New EV batteries technology could help stabilize stressed power grids

Nissan along with two European energy companies, E.ON and EDF, are working to develop technology that will allow power stored in electric vehicle batteries to be sold back to the grid.

E.ON says it is working with Nissan to develop vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services.  These include software for aggregating and marketing charging data which will allow the German power company to predict peaks and valleys in electricity demand.

Nissan is hoping to appeal to its customers with the pitch to buyers that they can charge their EV at off-peak times, and sell power back to the grid at peak times, they could effectively charge their cars for free.

Meanwhile, French utility company EDF is teaming up with a San Diego-based V2G technology specialist, Nuvve to build the first commercial-scale V2G charging network in Europe for Nissan and Mitsubishi electric vehicles.

Enel, Europe’s biggest utility company according to market value, has worked with Nissan and Nuvve on V2G pilot projects in Denmark and the Netherlands, Rome and Genoa.

Despite Nissan’s enthusiasm for the technology, French and German automakers are currently not interested in the venture.

According to Reuters, IONITY, a joint venture company with plans to build a high power charging network for electric vehicles along major highways in Europe, said it did not see an initial case for V2G.  Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Ford are partners in IONITY.

“Our clients want to charge fast and not feed back in,” a spokesman for IONITY told Reuters. “Only in combination with an external storage system would a use case possibly be interesting.”

But the power industry is interested in the technology.

German companies are particularly interested in the possibility of EV batteries being used as large virtual power plants to put power back into the grid.  Germany is phasing out its baseload nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

Jonathan Tudor, director of technology strategy at the innovation division of Centrica, Britain’s biggest utility, told Reuters that V2G will be a big part of the mix of technologies stabilizing networks, after there are more EVs in use.

“Winding the clock forward 10-12 years, if consumer behaviour stays the same we will see thousands of people arriving home and wanting to charge up their cars at the time that is already peak demand for most countries,” he said.

Global head of e-mobility at Enel, Alberto Piglia, agrees.  He told Reuters that as the EV market expands exponentially, there will be a tipping point at which there will be a multitude of related energy services.  “We are preparing the world for this,” said Piglia.

One major technological hurdle is incompatible EV charging standards between Europe and Japan.  IONITY is working on the Combined Charging System (CCS), while V2G in Europe works well with an EV charging standard developed in Japan known as CHAdeMO.

CCS chargers are being developed so EV owners can quickly charge their vehicles in the hope that this will boost sales of EVs.  According to Reuters, the protocol between CCS chargers and EV batteries is not designed to allow rapid changes in two-way information flow to charge and discharge electricity.

“We are missing a V2G charging standard,” Gregory Poilasne, chief executive of Nuvve told Reuters.

China could be the force that tips favour to V2G.  While China’s GB/T standard is not well suited to V2G, last year the China Electricity Council signed an agreement with Japan’s CHAdeMO Association to develop a common fast-charging plug that should handle rapid two-way flows.

Despite the challenges, E.ON is hoping the CCS standard will be compatible with the V2G mix.

“The technology for aggregation and marketing that we’re developing at E.ON based on the CHAdeMO standard will also be applicable to the CCS standard,” Johannes Werhahn, E.ON’s head of flexibility, renewables marketing and storage solutions told Reuters.

Analysts say the key to persuading EV buyers that V2G will work for them is critical to the success of V2G.  Nissan hopes the ability to charge their vehicles for free will be incentive for would-be buyers.

Nuvve’s Gregory Poilasne says V2G could cut the total cost of EV ownership by about 25 per cent.