At OhmConnect, we are watching with excitement the buzzworthy collaboration between Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and BMW of North America as they get started on testing vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology.
What the heck is ‘vehicle to everything technology’, you may be wondering?
This innovative initiative aims to address the growing demand on the power grid from electric vehicles (EVs), enhance grid reliability, maximize renewable energy usage, and even potentially allow EVs to serve as backup home generators. Wild times, right?
What some call “bi-directional charging”, is a revolutionary feature in electric vehicles (EVs) that allows them to not only draw power from the grid or a charging station but also to supply electricity back to the grid. This technology holds immense potential for grid stabilization and energy management.
With bi-directional charging, vehicles like the BMW or other EVs like Ford’s electric F-150 or the Nissan Leaf can serve as mobile energy storage units, enabling them to store excess electricity during low-demand periods and return it to the grid during peak demand periods. This functionality not only helps balance the grid but also allows EV owners to leverage their vehicle's battery as a backup power source for their homes or other applications.
Check out this story of a Texas man who used his Ford F-150 to power his home during the historic freeze and power outage of 2021.
The allure of V2X lies in its ability to empower EV customers to lower their electric bills by exporting excess power back to the grid during peak demand periods. In return, these customers will get paid, while the grid stands to benefit from increased stability and resiliency during critical moments. Furthermore, since EVs themselves are (for the most part) emission-free alternatives, they will also bolster the availability of other clean energy sources by contributing power back to the grid, rather than drawing from it.
Live in Texas and looking for an energy plan that is tailored to your needs as an EV owner? Check out the best energy plans in Texas for EV owners.
Aaron August, PG&E's Vice President of Utility Partnerships and Innovation, is pretty keen on the steps forward, saying, "The utility and automotive industries are creating a transformative clean energy future together. At PG&E, we are working with partners like BMW to unleash the full potential of EVs to enhance grid resilience and reliability for our customers, while reducing carbon emissions in our hometowns. Clean-powered EVs are vital to the battle against climate change. Using V2X technology to create virtual power plants from EVs can help utilities like ours meet peak electricity demand without relying on non-renewable energy resources. With smart, managed bi-directional charging, we can decarbonize our planet at a lower cost to our customers."
The testing phase will happen at PG&E's Applied Technology Services Lab in San Ramon, California, where researchers will evaluate how a typical home can optimize renewable energy usage by seamlessly switching between EV battery-stored renewable energy and grid-provided renewable energy. These batteries will charge when renewable energy on the grid is at its peak and discharge throughout the day to support household energy needs. Real-world scenarios will also be considered to ensure the viability of EVs as valuable grid resources.
Adam McNeill, Vice President of Engineering at BMW of North America, acknowledged the increasing complexity of achieving electric grid sustainability in the United States. He remarked, "That's why we started our ChargeForward program in 2015, to connect our vehicles, our customers, and the grid. V2X takes smart charging to the next level, exploring how EV batteries can be used for backup generation and other grid services. We're excited to continue pursuing additional customer benefits while helping make the grid more dependable and sustainable."
The ChargeForward program, initiated in 2015, incentivizes BMW battery and plug-in EV drivers in northern and central California, who are PG&E customers, to optimize their charging times, thereby supporting grid reliability. Building on their successful partnership, PG&E and BMW have extended their collaboration until March 2026. The future will involve a field trial of V2X-enabled vehicles at the BMW Group Technology Office USA.
At OhmConnect, we believe that this partnership between PG&E and BMW is a significant step towards a greener and more sustainable energy future. By harnessing the power of EVs and V2X technology, we can unlock new possibilities for reducing carbon emissions, maximizing renewable energy utilization, and ensuring a more reliable and resilient grid. We are eager to find out the results of this testing phase and the positive impact it will have on the transition to a cleaner energy landscape.
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