Let’s say you have a nice new Tesla automobile parked outside. Suddenly, the electricity goes out in your neighborhood, leaving you and your family sitting home in the dark. No air conditioning, no lights, no internet, and (gasp!) no television. What do you do? If you have invested $15,000 to $30,000 in a solar panel system with battery backup, you can run a few critical items for a few hours. But according to one Tesla executive, you could also use a vehicle to grid system to plug your car into your domestic electrical system and have all the power you need for several days.

The typical home uses about 30 kilowatt-hours of electricity a day. The smallest battery Tesla offers customers today has 60 kilowatt-hours of capacity. You can see where this is going, right? Ben Hill, Tesla Energy’s senior vice-president of Europe and Africa told an energy conference in Dubai recently that “The ability… [for] battery systems which are connected to the grid — whether they are in a vehicle or not — that ability is coming very, very soon.” How soon? Hill refused to speculate further, except to say, “There is a lot of pilots [programs] going around the world right now. But. he added, the “technology is not quite there.”

Vehicle to grid systems, known colloquially as V2G, could save people money. They would charge the battery in their car during off peak hours when electricity costs less and use it to run their homes during peak periods when costs are higher. Tesla is not alone in exploring the possibilities of V2G technology. Last May, Nissan launched the first vehicle to grid pilot program in the UK with 100 of its electric car owners using bi-directional charging points to sell energy from their vehicles back into the grid.

There is “enormous” potential for vehicle to grid, Nissan Europe chairman Paul Wilcox said at the time. “As we see a decline in the costs of lithium ion batteries — which is happening very quickly, Tesla being one of the leaders — what is going to happen is the lithium ion battery pack becomes a lot more disposable and the value of charging and discharging in and out of the grid … becomes a lot less,” Sami Khoreibi, chief executive of Abu Dhabi-based solar developer Enviromena, told Gulf News during the event in Dubai. “It will be a part of the larger power grid,” Khoreibi said.

The V2G idea sounds promising, although it is subject to some caveats. One, while battery prices are dropping, buying a new battery pack for your Model S still costs lots of money. Also, the battery in your car isn’t going to power much of anything in your home while you are off driving around. Finally, lithium ion batteries are limited in the number of times they can be charged and recharged. Using the battery in your car to store electricity for your home may shorten its useful life.

V2G sounds like a great idea but it has drawbacks, too. It will be interesting to see whether it becomes a viable alternative to a traditional home battery storage system.

Source: Gulf News