With numerous state-wide internal combustion engine (ICE) bans and many incentives already in effect, continuing technological advances, and increasing societal pressures to decarbonize and eliminate tail-pipe emissions, the sale of electric vehicles (EVs) in the 1-7 weight classes will continue to accelerate.
While the global market for passenger EVs is picking up speed (albeit a bit slower in the US), medium-duty vehicle sales (class 4-6) are close to overtaking their ICE competitors (most notably, according to BNEF, electric school buses now represent 44% of sales). As electric medium-duty vehicles require greater battery capacity than their passenger counterparts and have more predictable use patterns, they are ushering in new technologies and business opportunities for stakeholders across the value chain.
Among the new technologies, vehicle to grid (V2G) may represent a revenue opportunity and provide resiliency for fleet operators, and grid capacity and stabilization for electric utilities. Challenges lie ahead for this nascent, yet to be commercialized or scaled technology. Highlighted below are leading companies providing V2G electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE), their pilots, and announcements of things yet to come. EVSE and charging stations are used interchangeably (note: on-board chargers are located inside the vehicle). In an effort to bring together disparate parts of a fragmented topic, I saw an opportunity to share insights from my work and recent research.
V2X is an acronym used to indicate bidirectional flow of power between a vehicle and another energy load, such as EV to home (V2H), to building (V2B), to vehicle (V2V), to grid (V2G) and beyond. While V2X represents the universe of bidirectional charging, the focus here is mainly on V2G (with a select few V2H examples).
Not all EVs or EVSEs are V2G-compatible. In order for bidirectional power flow to occur, hardware and software adaptations need to be in place in the vehicle and in the EVSE. Hardware modifications are usually required, since most power converters only move power one way, from input to output, and must be re-designed for bidirectional power flow. Hardware changes also address grid safety issues, such as backfeeding. New software is necessary because more information must be communicated between the EV and the EVSE, and also, critically, to ensure security since a compromised V2G-equipped EV poses vulnerability to the grid. In terms of software, that means secure communication standards.
The leading secure communication standard for charging was ISO 15118-2, published in 2014, which defined secure communication for AC and DC charging, plug & charge (an encrypted handshake between vehicle and EVSE for frictionless, secure charging experiences for the end-users, including payment authorization without the need for RFID or credit card swipe), data security, and smart charging to take advantage of renewable energy. The new standard, ISO 15118-20, published in March 2022, supersedes ISO 15118-2 and is the first secure V2G standard. It enables V2G through bidirectional power transfer, wireless power transfer, stronger data security and easier multi-contract charging, among other applications.
The underlying premise for bidirectional power flow is the potential to provide resiliency to home, building and fleet owners during grid outages. It can also usher in new monetization opportunities to fleet owners through enabling grid services such as virtual power plants (VPP) and peak shaving capabilities to electric distribution utilities.
V2G EVSE Providers
Below is a list of companies offering V2G charging stations. While not an exhaustive list, it covers leading providers. Given EV adoption rates and access to funding, it is no surprise that half of the companies are based in California.
Ambibox – this German-based company is offering two DC wall charging stations: 11 kW for residential and 22 kW for commercial use.
Autel Energy North America – a subsidiary of Chinese-owned Shenzhen Daotong Technology plans to release a bidirectional 7 and 12 kW DC residential charger, the MaxiCharger DCV2X, in Q2 2023.
Delta, a provider of switching power supplies, power management solutions and components, industrial automation, networking products and renewable energy solutions company based in Taiwan, has a V2X charger which is also DC and uses the CHAdeMO connector.
Charlottesville, VA based Fermata provides a DC solution and claims to be “the nation’s leader in proven V2X systems.” They state that their company has been “earning customers thousands of dollars per EV per year since its release in 2020.” Fermata is planning on releasing their 2nd generation bidirectional charger, the FE-20 in Q1 of 2023, which will have 20 kW for both charging and discharging. It will be made by Netherlands based Heliox (who is also working with The Mobility House on the Brookville, Maryland school bus project). While Fermata awaits UL certification for their product, they are taking pre-orders from fleet customers.
Another California based start-up, In-Charge Energy, announced a DC fast charger with V2G, V2B and V2X capabilities, the ICE-30 Wallbox. However, it is currently not yet available on its main products page.
The San Diego, CA-based Nuvve, offers; 19.2 kW, 50 kW AC and 60 kW, 125 kW DC solutions for its fleet customers. Nuvve claims to support ISO 15118-20 on their DC EVSEs only.
Another San Diego, CA based start-up, Rhombus, offers bidirectional DC charging stations, the RES-D2-CS20-V2G DC, which is available in 60 or 125 kW and several configurations. They are the only ones to list ISO 15118-2 communication protocol compliance for their products. Rhombus has a footnote stating they do not yet support ISO-15118-20 – which might be a window into the state of V2G maturity.
Barcelona, Spain-based Wallbox announced their 2nd generation bidirectional DC charger, Quasar 2, at CES 2022. It has a 11.5 kW output and provides both V2H and V2G capabilities.
It’s worth highlighting that only Fermata Energy and Nuvve state which communications protocols they use for V2G. This perhaps indicates that others are earlier in their development cycles or they do not want to disclose their special sauce.
(To See Graphics of the Product LIstings, check out our image gallery by clicking the green button at top of story and below the main art)
From concept to commercialization – the race to develop a viable, economically feasible solution is on. Below, a list of notable pilots:
Fermata Energy is running a pilot with passenger EV rental company Electric Frog. They are using a CHAdeMO equipped Nissan Leaf and have partnered with National Grid and their residential end-users, claiming to have earned over $4,400 in three months. In another pilot, the City of Boulder, Colorado, has reduced its energy costs by $250 per month sending energy stored in the EV battery to the building during peak-load periods, cutting its electricity bill by 3.4%. That’s a statistically significant number.
Nuvve announced the deployment of eight V2G-capable electric school buses in the Ramona, California, Unified School District utilizing Blue Bird buses.
Rhombus Energy’s V2G system, and bp pulse (formerly Amply Power) have partnered with a NY school bus company to pilot five V2G-enabled buses. Rhombus’ V2G system is being deployed for the project. Amply, a California-based startup providing fleet charging solutions was acquired by bp in September 2021 (bp’s other strategic US investments include battery-integrated DCFC maker FreeWire Technologies and medium-duty electric original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Lightning eMotors).
On the residential front, Wallbox is deploying its Quasar 2 bidirectional DC charger in a pilot with Sunverge Energy, a San Francisco-based cloud energy management platform (think VPP), and Engie, the French multinational utility company, at an Australian University utilizing their business fleet. Additionally, Wallbox has partnered with Nuvve on a V2G project in Spain in 2022, and another project in the US will follow.
Announcements on V2G Integration
Ambibox is working with The Mobility House on a product market fit for commercial fleets and passenger vehicle applications. The Mobility House recently announced a $50M series C funding round “to expand the company’s leading market position in the field of EV smart charging and V2G integration across Europe, North America and Asia.”
ClipperCreek currently does not have a V2H or V2G solution, however, they have hinted about it in their posts and in the acquisition announcement by Enphase Energy, a maker of residential solar inverters. The acquisition of ClipperCreek will help to accelerate Enphase’s plans to enable bidirectional charging capability for V2H and V2G applications.
In March, Delta announced an 11 kW V2X charger. Like Fermata, it also uses a CHAdeMO connector.
In-Charge announced a solar, energy storage, and EV charging offering for fleet owners and operators, in partnership with energy storage company STEM. Their announcement said, “The combined offering is expected to help EV assets achieve operational excellence,” however, no revenue potential or total cost of ownership (TCO) was provided.
Nuvve also announced their partnership with Swell Energy, to offer solar, battery storage, and EV charging for residential and commercial markets that include yet-to-be specified V2G EVSE. For the residential market, they have partnered with Wallbox to develop a DC solution that will be available in Spain for select Nissan and Mitsubishi PHEV and BEV models in the future.
On the OEM side, in February 2022, Hyundai Motors announced their strategy for V2X, including two V2G pilots. Siemens announced their collaboration with Ford on a Level 2, 19.1 kW residential EVSE to support Ford’s F-150 Lightning. GM Energy just announced their Ultium product line for residential and commercial customers. Utilities, such as PG&E are also starting their own V2G pilots.
Harry Goldstein at IEEE said it best, “V2G technology adds another layer of complexity to the EV transition.” The grid was also not designed for bidirectional power flows (I learned this first hand while working at Gridco Systems, where we helped utilities integrate distributed energy resources (DERs) a decade ago). Other factors include use case validation; industry adoption of communication standards both between vehicle and EVSE (ISO 15118-20 vs proprietary) and between EVSE and control system (OCPP vs proprietary); cybersecurity concerns; grid interconnection standards (UL 1741 SA); safety (UL 9741); certificate authority compliance; battery degradation and warranties; AC / DC power input / output; and connector type (Combined Charging System (CCS) / CHAdeMO), just to name a few.
“As of right now bidirectional charging needs to be done via DC. Vehicles are equipped with an OBC which is capable of converting incoming AC voltage to DC for storage within the battery. However, there is no inverter to convert the stored DC voltage into AC for transfer back into a home. Bidirectional chargers are equipped with an inverter and converter to handle that conversion internally; this is why it must be done via DC at this time. In the future, EVs may be equipped with an inverter designed to handle this process onboard the vehicle, if that happens it will be possible to establish V2G using only an AC charger,” said Dan Larson, Solutions Engineer at Autel Energy.
The control system to grid seems to be standardized around Automated Demand Response (ADR), so at least that leg of communication appears to be buttoned down.
The Utrecht, Netherlands V2G pilot is long on use cases, but short on discussing revenue opportunities. Fleets would be well served to see an industry validated revenue calculator based on vehicle battery capacity. Hive Power claims that you can earn $105 / month or $1,260 annually if the (passenger) vehicle is signed up and connected with a participating utility. For medium-duty vehicles, the amount could be 2X or higher, depending on battery size and ability to provide capacity that’s not in competition with vehicle utilization. With pricing tiers based on different grid scenarios, fleets can better understand and plan for Capex.
Will OEMs adopt 15118-20, and if so how long will it take them? One of the questions that still remains is who and how to enforce industry-wide adoption of universal open and interoperable charging standards.
The leading global association working on vehicle charging interoperability, CharIN, “Is committed to expand the capabilities of the CCS,” said Cliff Fietzek, Member of the Board of CharIN North America (and CTO of In-Charge Energy). “This includes the global rollout of Plug & Charge enabled by ISO 15118-02. The next step is the rollout of V2X, providing energy from the vehicle to the building, a site or the power grid. This will be enabled by the next protocol integration of ISO 15118-20. In addition to the benefits for V2X, 15118-20 will also enhance the security capabilities and enable the next generation Megawatt charging systems.”
As utilities look to decarbonize and bring on more intermittent sources of DERs, having a reliable power source during times of peak demand, extreme weather, and to bolster reliability in case of equipment failure will also become more important. For OEMs and EVSE, V2G capability can be a competitive advantage as fleet (and home) owners start to recognize reliability and monetary benefits, respectively. So far there have not been any OEMs who specifically call out 15118 as a feature (a potential competitive differentiator). “The biggest challenge to V2X/V2G adoption is bringing more bidirectionally-enabled EVs to the market quickly,” said Fermata Energy founder and CEO David Slutzky.
“The revenue calculator is easy if you know the value of peak power to the utility buyer. The economics behind the determination of value are more complicated and dependent on the generation portfolio. Were V2G available at the right time and at scale (which is a big if), ERCOT in Texas could have paid for a lot of EVs to avoid the cascading power failures that cost Texas and states across the region billions of dollars,” said Brent Alderfer, founder and CEO of Electric Frog. “Given that V2B can proceed one site at a time without critical mass as a condition of economic benefit, it will lead V2G on market entry,” Alderfer added.
“Depending upon available local utility programs, fleet operators with EVs, such as the Nissan LEAF, can earn money in several ways. Their utility can pay them to send the energy stored in their EV fleet batteries to the grid, or they can avoid peak demand charges by sending power to their building, which reduces the company's electricity bill,” added Slutzky. “For example, our newest bidirectional DC fast charger, the FE-20, paired with Fermata Energy's V2X software platform, sends fleet operators to advance notice about opportunities to earn revenue. The FE-20 costs about the same as single-directional DC fast chargers, which are cost centers for organizations with EV fleets,” he added.
Will companies like FreeWire, ChargeWheel and other providers of battery-integrated charging stations start to look at B2G, as they already provide additional capacity utilities can tap into? For site owners, this can provide an additional revenue stream that can hasten ROI. “Given that V2B can proceed one site at a time without critical mass as a condition of economic benefit, it will lead V2G on market entry,” said Alderfer.
“EVs are poised to become either the biggest destabilizer or the biggest asset to the electrical power grid. Which one of those they become will depend largely on what policies, regulations and rate structures are put in place over the next 5 years,” said Jim Castelaz, founder and CTO of Motiv Power Systems.
What other V2G companies would you add to the list? What other pilots and product announcements are you following?
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About the author: Joanna Hamblin specializes in developing integrated, creative, results-driven marketing and go-to-market strategies for leading cleantech, grid edge, EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) and eMobility companies.
Most recently Joanna led NAM eMobility Marketing for Schneider Electric, where she defined the application roadmap, marketing strategy and execution plan for a holistic, end-to-end hardware, software and app offering for residential, building and fleet segments. Prior, as a Sr. Marketing Manager at Motiv Power Systems, a sustainable technology company delivering all-electric medium-duty trucks and buses, she was responsible for all aspects of marketing. She also helped launch Motiv Energy, a one-stop-shop solution for fleets that delivered scalable charging infrastructure and asset monetization. Prior to joining Motiv, Joanna was the Head of Marketing at FreeWire Technology, a leading provider of battery-integrated DCFC (Direct Current Fast Charging) solutions for public and fleet segments. Preceding, Joanna was the Global Director of Marketing at Power Standards Lab, a leader in power quality and energy monitoring devices, a Marketing Manager at Gridco Systems, a DER (Distributed Energy Resources) integrator for electric power distribution utilities, and a Marketing Communications Manager at Ambient Corporation, a developer of smart grid communications infrastructure. Joanna holds a Master of Liberal Arts in Sustainability and Environmental Management, from Harvard University Extension School, and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Finance from Northeastern University. Joanna is fluent in English and Polish.