Baby, You Can Power My House

By Dean Adams Curtis

“Baby, you can drive my car,” sang the Beatles.

Today, for our time together, “Baby,” is a big healthy electric-powered truck, the Ford F150 Lightning EV.

Come this summer of 2022, “baby” will also be GM EV Hummers and EV Hummer pickups whose owners will send electrons from their vehicle’s batteries into their houses to thwart blackouts.

Then, the song might be sung, “Baby, You Can Power My House.” (For the record, the only time this writer has referred to a vehicle as a baby has been when it’s running out of gas or breaking down, as in, “Come on baby!” urged repeatedly.)

General Motors and California’s largest electricity provider, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), announced a pilot program to test GM’s EVs to provide backup power to homes.

“Imagine a future where everyone is driving an electric vehicle — and where that EV serves as a backup power option at home and more broadly as a resource for the grid. Not only is this a huge advancement for electric reliability and climate resiliency, it’s yet another advantage of clean-powered EVs, which are so important in our collective battle against climate change,” said PG&E Corporation CEO Patti Poppe.

GM promises to bring thirty new EVs to market riding on its Ultium Platform, a combined EV architecture and propulsion system, that will underpin a variety of EVs including an upcoming Chevrolet Equinox EV to be priced at $30,000. GM will also be rolling out another pickup, the Silverado EV that will most likely have the backup power option, and myriad other auto makers are in lock step or right behind. A case in point, BMW has already been working with PG&E, for example, on a similar demonstration.

When an EV owner plugs their car into a charger at home, instead of electricity just flowing into the car’s battery, electricity can also flow from it to provide power to their house, vehicle-to-home (V2H), and vehicle-to-building (V2B) if your car powers a structure other than your house, and vehicle-to-grid (V2G), when used during conditions of peak electricity usage that would otherwise cause a brownout, or turning to dirty power, when you could be selling a electrons back to the grid.

Yes, the power stored in our electric car batteries, will be a boon in cases when we humans need electrons during emergency power outages, or for what are called grid services that keep the electronic grid stable.

Some EVs and venues have been doing this for some time now. Eight years ago, for example, a demonstration smart grid began at the Los Angeles Air Force Base that connected forty electric vehicles, such as Nissan Leaf EVs and Phoenix electric buses to the base’s buildings and to the grid.

In conversations about this, the word bidirectional is used a lot. It is key to the most important concept. The vehicles and equipment used to flow electrons to an EV, to allow it to get charged up by and from the grid, ought to also be able to send electrons the other direction, from EV batteries outward into a home needing power, another vehicle needing power, or an electric grid in need of a little help.

A writer on the subject recently noted “The one thing that no one seems to have a definitive answer to is, what effect does bi-directional charging have on batteries? If a car participated in a V2G scheme on a regular basis, would its battery reach the end of its useful life sooner than the battery in a similar car that does not participate in V2G activities?”

However, study of this at the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs found no appreciable degradation if EV batteries were used for V2H, V2B, or V2G, as long as they were always kept within their Goldilocks zones, just right.

The writer brought up another issue. “For your electric vehicle to power your home in a blackout, you need to be able to plug your car into your home — likely through a charger located in a garage or carport. There’s no good way to send power from public charging spots back into, say, an apartment, and it’s hard enough to figure out how to send energy from public chargers back into the grid at large. That inherently limits the benefits to people who have enough income to not only buy an electric vehicle but also live in a home with a garage.

The writer had apparently not heard of the technology offered by MOEV that allows owners of parking lots, condo owners, multi-unit-dwelling residents to aggregate the power from the EVs charged up with enough electrons in their parking spaces. One does not have to have a garage of their own to participate, a community of EV owners can offer V2B for their apartment building or condo units. Same for offices from the EVs in their parking structure.

And another sustainability plus, with all sorts of EVs stationary and plugged-in, in parking lots and driveways, having bidirectional power flow capability, ready at any moment to support your local utility company (and to get paid back for it) when they need to find quick ways to get more power to avoid turning to dirty power. Peaker-plants that provide extra power are those that can be turned on rapidly, fired-up, burning coal, oil, or gas, emitting greenhouse gases as they do.

If EV-based V2G systems can stop our utility companies needing to fire up dirty fossil fuel plants to provide us with peak power, they will be a big win for the goal of keeping the climate cooler than the trajectory it is currently on.


April 16, 2022 at 5:16 pm Leave a comment

Magic seats make the difference in 2022 Honda Odyssey

America’s most popular people mover on four wheels, the 2022 Honda Odyssey

Loaded with high-tech entertainment features, the Odyssey is also capable of carrying loads, as we discovered while moving to a new place in Nevada City.

And then there are also those magic seats.

May 17, 2021 at 10:52 pm Leave a comment

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