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2020, A Biggly Bad Year: At Least EVs as a Grid Resource Made Headway

image credit: Abbot

Charles Botsford, PE's picture
Program Manager CWB Energy Solutions

Mr. Botsford is a professional chemical engineer in the State of California with 30 years’ experience in engineering process design, distributed generation, and environmental management. He has a...

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2020 was a terrible year. Toward the end, a small light began to show us the way forward.

Not all was dark.

One of the few bright lights of 2020 was the Electric Vehicle and its battery. Who knew we would get so much done relative to vehicle-grid integration (VGI), vehicle-to-grid (V2G), and market trading?

Vehicle-Grid Integration – VGI

EV smart charging has been around for over a decade. The idea is to charge the EV when the grid can most afford to expend its valuable electrons. In the early days, many feared EV charging would overwhelm the grid, which would require building new coal and nuclear power plants just to keep the lights on. Now that wind, solar, hydro, and other renewables increasingly power the grid, the batteries of EVs serve as a massive sink for all that power.

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It seems counterintuitive that we can get so much value from using the grid to one-way (unidirectional) charge EVs, doesn’t it? California’s Vehicle-Grid Integration working group, sponsored by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), submitted its final report in June 2020, which recommended a whole suite of use cases for EV smart charging [1].

Going forward, possibly eighty percent of the EV’s value to the grid, could come from unidirectional smart charging, substantially shoring up grid resiliency and stability.

Vehicle-to-Grid – V2G

Not to be outdone, vehicle-to-grid (V2G), both AC and DC, made significant gains in 2020. V2G enables power from EVs to flow back to the grid when called upon. This type of power flow has many niche applications including, vehicle-to-home (V2H) during emergencies, Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) during wildfire emergencies, and peak shaving or shifting to alleviate high grid demand. V2G comes at a round-trip efficiency cost, and a potential battery capacity degradation cost. AC V2G also requires a bi-directional on-board charger, which converts the battery DC power to AC for discharge to the grid. Most current EVs have unidirectional on-board chargers, which would mean automakers would need to update their charger designs to comply with the revised standards.

One of those standards is Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J3072. SAE finalized the newest update to the AC V2G standard, J3072, in the fall of 2020. J3072 lays out the method of grid interconnection (IEEE 1547-2018), design requirements for the EV onboard charger, design requirements for the AC charger (also known as the Level 2 EVSE), and the communication protocol, IEEE 2030.5, which allows the EV to talk to the EVSE, and the EVSE to talk to the grid.

 source: Abbot, COVID Lockdown Graphics Dept.

Figure 1. SoCal Windfarm with EVs and Second Use Batteries as DERs

Maybe it was coincidence, but California Rule 21 Interconnection, which allows grid interconnection, was substantially revised September 24, 2020 [2]. At least it seems like coincidence, considering how interrelated Rule 21 is with J3072. The Rule 21 revision enables distributed energy resources, including energy storage projects, significantly easier access to the grid [3]. The Rule 21 revision is the final link in the chain that allows EVs to provide power to the grid via AC V2G. The California Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs), Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Pacific Gas & Electric are planning pilot programs to prove the concept and iron out any issues.

While AC V2G is primarily a light duty EV tool, DC V2G is primarily for medium- and heavy-duty EVs, and fleets. DC V2G takes power directly from the EV’s battery and uses the bi-directional DC charger to convert it to AC power for grid use. 2020 saw extensive activity surrounding DC V2G programs.

Market Trading – FERC 2222

The final, good news of 2020 for EVs came on September 17, 2020 when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued draft Order 2222 [4]. FERC Order 2222 is significant because it seeks to remove barriers for energy storage, including grid-connected EVs as energy storage, to participate in grid resource aggregation.

 

source: Abbot, COVID Lockdown Graphics Dept.

Figure 2. Clean Vehicle with Organic Energy Storage

 

Conclusion

While 2020, by almost any measure, was a disaster globally, the way forward to a sustainable EV future made significant gains, especially for grid-connected EVs. This bodes well for renewables replacing a fossil fuels powered grid, and getting us all to a carbon-free world.

References

1. Vehicle-Grid Integration Working Group, Final Report to the California Joint Agencies, CPUC DRIVE OIR Rulemaking R.18-12-006, June 30, 2020.

2. California Public Utilities Commission, Agenda ID # 18718, Rulemaking 17-07-007, Order Instituting Rulemaking to Consider Streamlining Interconnection of Distributed Energy Resources and Improvements to Rule 21. August 20, 2020.

3. Misbrener, K., CPUC Updates California’s Interconnection Rules to Better Accommodate Renewables Onto the Grid. Solar Power World, September 25, 2020.

4. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Docket: RM 18-9-000, September 17, 2020.

 

Author

Charles Botsford, PE is a professional chemical engineer in the State of California with 30 years’ experience in engineering process design, distributed generation, EV charging infrastructure, and environmental management. He participated in California’s Vehicle Grid Integration (VGI) Working Group and participates in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J3072 AC Vehicle-to-Grid standards committee. Mr. Botsford holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of New Mexico, and a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Arizona.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 23, 2020

Figure 2. Clean Vehicle with Organic Energy Storage

Get me Elon on the phone, we need to start investing big in apple orchards!!

 

Thanks for all your great insights this year, Charles!

Charles Botsford, PE's picture
Charles Botsford, PE on Dec 23, 2020

Hi Matt,

Thanks. With everything wrong this year, it's nice to see the foundation for grid-connected EVs being built with such strong footers as VGI, J3072, and FERC 2222. 2021 will be good for pilot and demo projects that show how EVs will be the foundation of reliability and resiliency for our grid of the future.

And yes, apple, Elon, good catch on the symbology.

Charlie

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Dec 24, 2020

Charles, I agree that the EVs are helping the GRID and will do that EVen more as V2G starts becoming a standard feature on new vehicles. The Lucid EV made in Casa Grande Arizona has V2V, V2G and starts rolling out in January 2021. It will work perfectly at my 100% Solar home and 2 Electric Vehicles. 

Jim Horstman's picture
Jim Horstman on Dec 24, 2020

I have always been skeptical about EVs serving as a source rather than just a sink. However, the niche applications you mention do make sense as long as the customer has control over how much energy can be consumed from the EV. If the 'work from home' concept continues past the end of the current pandemic then that is also likely to have an impact on the use of the EV as a battery particularly for those with solar as they will be able to charge their EV during the day and use it as a battery at night while they are less likely to be using the vehicle.

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