Bidirectional electric vehicle charging, or vehicle to grid (V2G), is a relatively new concept in the world of low carbon transportation technology. It essentially not only puts significant energy into plug-in vehicles to operate them, but can also can discharge a like amount of stored energy from the vehicle batteries to a local power grid or microgrid. We’ve seen this at play in a field test in Colorado, particularly during the devastating floods that happened recently, and now Boulder Electric Vehicle has put this innovation through trials in other markets as well.
Boulder Electric Vehicle is a designer, developer and manufacturer of viable medium and heavy duty electric trucks and vans, much like Smith Electric. Besides the successful demonstration of the bidirectional technology in Ft. Carson, Colorado, where it worked with the US Army Corp of Engineers and the SPIDERS project on full charge and discharge of a vehicle at 60 kilowatts of power, two other trials have occurred:
- Royal Oak, Michigan, on June 14, 2013. Done in partnership with its EVSE partner Coritech, Boulder became the first “EV truck manufacturer in the world to successfully demonstrate V2G bi-directional charging.”
- Los Angeles, California on August 13, 2013. At its Los Angeles plant, and supported by a $3 million grant from the state of California.
The concept of V2G technology is something which earlier this year was being studied by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. They noted at the time of this emerging offering that
this capability is of particular interest when combined with microgrids. A microgrid is a potentially self-sufficient segment of the grid that is connected to the power grid at large but has the ability to provide and manage its own energy. In a future scenario where there may be variable production from intermittent renewable sources, readily available storage could buffer that variability. With bi-directional charging, electric vehicles have the potential to play that role, and the vehicle becomes an asset in a smart grid or microgrid. Particular areas of interest for this technology emerge around emergency backup power or the use of vehicle fleets for this purpose.
Boulder Electric, apparently happy with its success in these trials and the development of this technology in the market, purchased a bi-directional DC charger from Coritech that will be used solely at its Los Angeles operations. It plans to offer on-site demonstrations of their vehicles performing real V2G bi-directional charging.