I'm trying to understand the emotions around V2G (aka bi-directional charging). That’s not a typo. I wonder how would bi-directional charging make vehicle operators feel. Will cost savings override range anxiety?
As an engineer, this question takes me into an area where I’m not well versed, but as an entrepreneur focused on EV Smart Charge Control Systems, I think it’s a critical question. Rational people make irrational decisions every day based on deep seated emotions. We know we shouldn’t waste our day reading posts by ill informed people, but many of us do. So in that light, please indulge me as I express my ill-informed opinion.
Yesterday’s blackouts in California coincided with a call from a friend that consults with a municipal utility. Among other reasons, he called to discuss an upcoming pilot project that would include bi-directional charging. For a utility, the stored energy in vehicles looks like a vast untapped goldmine. For a few extra dollars, every vehicle could be a source of energy that could be quickly deployed where that energy is needed. Having a power source within the distribution system would mean less need to generate or transmit peak power.
To get customers to participate, utilities plan to reward them with cheaper energy and an offer of increased reliability. However, I’m not sure if money and helping utility operations will be sufficient to overcome individual concerns about charge levels. I’ve learned that even commercial vehicle operators (aka delivery drivers) have range anxiety. They fear that they will be blamed if they are unable to complete their work if their batteries run low. (That and they don’t want to get off work late.) Residential customers may be willing to participate on normal days, but on days when the utility has a dire need and announces potential blackouts, what will they do?
Time will tell, but I suspect that the first thing that many California EV drivers did upon hearing that power might be curtailed for the week in CA was to fully charge their vehicle. The fear that an outage will leave them stranded will drive behavior on those hottest days. My guess is that many people would opt-out by either disabling bi-directional charging or simply unplugging their vehicle once it’s charged. My commercial experience strongly suggests that business users will behave in the same way. If a business can’t deliver its goods, sales will suffer, and cost savings won’t incent them to let that happen.
I know that there will be certain situations where customers will absolutely want to participate. My friend pointed out the example of unused school buses on a hot summer day. That one seems easy. However, school starts in the hot month of August. Those same buses will be returning to the yard after 4 pm, and upon arrival their batteries will be depleted just when power is needed.
Fear is a powerful emotional motivation. I believe that many customers’ fears will overcome their willingness to participate in bi-directional charging. Can money offset the emotions around V2G? Time will tell.