October 14th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
ABB has long been one of the leaders of the electric vehicle (EV) charging industry. It’s taking the industry another step forward with bi-directional 11 kW charging. The new charging station comes along with a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) partnership in France with DREEV. The partnership will also expand to the UK, Italy, Belgium, and Germany in time.
Used to send electricity back to the grid when the grid could use it and the plugged in vehicles have plenty of charge, ABB reports that each participating EV could make up to €20/month under the system.
“Our cooperation with DREEV is one of the leading efforts worldwide to deploy real V2G technology to the field,” Frank Muehlon, Head of ABB’s global business for E-mobility Infrastructure Solutions, said. “ABB is a global market leader in fast charging solutions. We are delighted to have the opportunity to support DREEV in its mission to actively participate in making the grid more resilient with V2G technology.”
Unfamiliar with DREEV? So was I. But it’s actually a joint venture between two companies you may know — French energy giant EDF and San Diego cleantech company Nuvve, which claims to be “world leader in V2G technology.” In the partnership with ABB, it appears that it will be managing the software side of the partnership. DREEV CEO Eric Mevellec is enthused. “This cooperation with ABB is key to bring our solutions to the next level. We are now ready to accelerate commercial development,” he noted.
V2G has been a hot topic in this industry for years. Yet, it’s hardly applied on the market. Tesla cofounder and CTO for most of the life of the company, JB Straubel, a few years ago explained why Tesla never got into it, even though it considered doing so several times, and Elon Musk echoed those comments during the recent shareholder meeting/Battery Day. Here was JB Straubel’s explanation in 2016:
“To your second question, about using vehicles as a buffer for renewable energy, this is definitely something that’s coming, and I think there’s two ways to implement this.
“The first is to use dynamic charging. This is essentially intelligently commanding when the vehicles absorb their energy from the grid, you know, to match up with when you have renewable energy available or cheap. You know, this is something we can do very easily with just essentially software and controls — we don’t have to change any hardware, and there’s no additional regulatory or certification work needed. It’s just essentially controlling the timing of when something otherwise would happen.
“If we want to actually send energy back from the car to the electricity grid, this gets much more complex, and, you know, that’s something that I don’t see being a very economic or viable solution — perhaps ever, but certainly not in the near term. You know, the additional wear and tear and degradation on your vehicle battery has a fairly high cost, and many of the people and small businesses looking at this today, you know, don’t take into account fully that degradation cost, and also the additional interconnection cost, because if you interconnect your vehicle, you do have regulations that play a part — it has to interconnect in the same way that a solar system would on someone’s home or on a business, which have different standards so that they can protect line operators and people on the grid.”
However, related hardware and software continue to improve, and utilities are perhaps becoming more eager to tap into this option. Furthermore, ABB is a pretty ideal corporation to move this solution forward. ABB agrees: “ABB V2G technology is designed to be a crucial enabler and is a natural fit for ABB. Beyond its leading position in EV charging, ABB is also a major player in the service of utilities. V2G combines these two technological areas of expertise and provides a concrete answer to the energy challenges faced by network operators.”
Also, being the power electronics giant it is, ABB isn’t working on this because it sees the option as a small play. ABB sees enormous market potential here. “Few electric cars currently support V2G, but it is expected to become a dominant technology within the next five years. And with the number of EVs on the road predicted to rise to 559 million by 2040 and 33 percent of the global fleet to be powered by electricity, the world’s energy ecosystem needs to evolve to support this transition.”
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