Today blockchain alliance Energy Web announced a partnership with Volkswagen Group Innovation to explore integrating electric vehicle (EV) charging points. The idea is to use EV batteries to store surplus renewable energy, which can then be released into the main grid when energy demand exceeds supply.
“Seamless end-to-end electricity market participation for electric vehicles” is the goal of the partnership. Participation will include Electrify America (or rather its public key infrastructure).
Electrify America is a Volkswagen (VW) subsidiary with more than 500 charging sites in the U.S., set up by VW in 2016 as part of its settlement over the VW Diesel scandal. The company committed to investing $2 billion in Zero Emission Vehicle charging infrastructure.
While EVs help to cut emissions, a second set of environmental benefits can be gained from the batteries. As distributed energy resources (DERs) such as solar panels and wind farms become more integrated with the electricity grid, power sources become less consistent. That’s because you can’t switch the wind or sun on and off in the same way you can with generators. What’s needed is the ability to balance the grid by having additional energy storage and EV batteries fit the bill.
“With this partnership, we want to accelerate electric mobility and deliver even more value to EV customers,” explained Jesse Morris, chief commercial officer of Energy Web. “One way is to make it easy for EVs to seamlessly participate in energy markets. If we’re successful, the moment an EV rolls off the lot of a dealership that car will be fully integrated into the energy system in the area. Customers can then be paid for their EVs to help balance the grid in near real-time.”
As EVs become more mainstream, the charging requirements themselves could also add to the grid’s inconsistent load, especially if everyone recharges overnight. Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts sales rising from 1.7 million in 2020 to 54 million by 2040. Managing the timing of the charging could also help. While not mentioned in the announcement, we note that Electrify America is launching a home charging solution, Homestation, which should help to address this issue.
“We are keen to explore the possibilities that blockchain technology can have for smart charging applications and how this can have a positive effect on the ecological footprint and thus an increase in value for our customers,” said Marvin Schroeder, the project leader at Volkswagen Group Innovation.
In 2020 VW released the all-electric ID.3 with the ID.4 SUV to follow soon. The group intends to invest €35 billion in e-mobility in the next five years and launch around 70 all-electric models in the next ten years.
Meanwhile, Energy Web has trialed integrating DERs with electricity grids in collaboration with the Austrian Power Grid.
The VW project will use Energy Web’s technology and EV charging standards such as the ISO 15118 Plug & Charge standard.
Five months ago, blockchain mobility alliance MOBI unveiled a standard for electric vehicle grid integration (EVGI) where Honda and General Motors led the group.
Numerous car manufacturers are exploring using EV batteries for energy storage. However, some are more local rather than grid integration. Toyota started a project last year in Japan. In California, Omega Grid is working with EDF. And in Europe, four major electricity utilities are part of Equigy, aiming to crowd balance the grid. One of the utilities TenneT has worked with both BMW and Nissan on bidirectional charging. And Terna has an alliance with Fiat Chrysler for a virtual power plant (VPP) for a fleet of cars.