Here at CleanTechnica, we’ve written a great number of articles about Vehicle-To-Grid (V2G) technology. It’s highly important not only to help stabilize the grid (thousands of EVs can help the grid keep up during unusual times using energy from times when the grid wasn’t so strained), but V2X (vehicle to X) can do anything from power a campsite to power a heater and a fridge during severe winter storms where power was lost.
So, it’s a good idea for more manufacturers to support V2G and V2X technology, and many are doing it. But, Toyota only recently got back into EVs, so the company is having to get into that now.
A couple weeks ago, Toyota Motor North America and Oncor Electric Delivery, a Texas-based electric transmission and distribution company, have collaboratively established an unprecedented Vehicle-to-Grid technology pilot project. Spearheaded by Toyota’s Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions team, this endeavor is the first of its kind between a public utility in the US, focused on Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). Together they are making strides to bring cutting edge energy solutions into reality — marking an important milestone for both companies!
Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC, headquartered in Dallas, is a regulated electricity distribution and transmission business that ensures reliable power delivery to over 3.8 million homes and businesses with its superior asset management skills. With more than 140,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines across Texas, Oncor (alongside its subsidiaries) manages the largest network system in the state. Oncor is owned by two investors, Sempra (indirect majority owner) and Texas Transmission Investment LLC (minority owner), but its Board of Directors are in charge of overseeing the management. This board consists mainly of independent directors.
With the findings from this research, Toyota and Oncor are equipped to more effectively support electric vehicle charging infrastructure in America. Additionally, these efforts will enable them to provide a better customer experience for all BEV purchasers of Toyota vehicles, reduce carbon emissions faster than before, and open up new business opportunities as well.
“We envision a future where Toyota BEVs provide a best-in-class mobility experience, but also can be utilized by our customer to power their homes, their communities or even power back the electric grid in times of need,” said Christopher Yang, group vice president of Toyota Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions team. “Our collaboration with Oncor is an important step for us to understand the needs of utilities, as we plan to work closely with them to ensure every community can embrace Toyota’s shift to electrified vehicles.”
To kickstart their joint research project, Oncor and the other company have agreed to use Oncor’s advanced microgrid located at its System Operating Services Facility (SOSF) in south Dallas. This area is conveniently situated just south of Toyota’s national headquarters. The remarkable SOSF microgrid consists of four interconnected grids that can be individually manipulated or combined into a single large system for improved operation.
To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the link between BEVs and utilities, Toyota and Oncor have included a V2G charger, solar panels, battery storage as well as a BEV in their microgrid system. These elements will be used for testing and evaluation purposes.
“Electrification is coming, and it’s Oncor’s job to build a safer, smarter, more reliable electric grid that can enable the needs of our customers, the state of Texas and the ERCOT market. This project marks the first collaboration of its kind between Oncor and an OEM manufacturer, and we are excited to work with a world-class technology leader like Toyota to better understand how the electric grid can enable V2G transactions across the Oncor service territory,” said Jim Greer, Oncor Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “We appreciate Toyota’s collaboration in pursuing innovative energy solutions through this endeavor, and we look forward to someday implementing the lessons learned from this pilot project in benefit of the many communities we serve.”
Subsequent to the initial phase of this project in 2023, a V2G pilot will be instated with BEVs connected at residences or companies within Oncor’s service area. This process and agreement must adhere to all standard interconnection regulations.
By collaborating, Oncor and Toyota will gain a more comprehensive understanding of their customers’ present and future needs. This new insight will aid in the swift expansion of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, fulfill customer requirements with precision, better support electric vehicles and accurately assess V2G’s impact on the electricity grid.
The Bigger Question
One question I don’t see addressed very often, and that Toyota may be able to help address, is how they’ll get EV owners to participate in concerted V2G efforts.
One challenge V2G efforts will face is fear of degradation. The more you use a lithium-ion battery, the more capacity it’ll lose. At what price will participation be seen as a net benefit for a car owner? The answer to that is probably something economists can study, but it’s no simple answer. Different people will have different ideas about how much risk they’re willing to take with their car, different levels of community-mindedness, and more.
Along those same lines, the Texas freezes probably highlight another issue: whether people will want to help the grid or help their own families first with that EV power. It’s becoming increasingly well-known that EVs and hybrids can supply power in emergencies, and this is literal life or death stuff. Will Texas EV owners want to help the grid stay up, or will they want to give their own family heat first in a nasty cold snap?
I don’t want to get into politics or other nasty things, but these things are worth looking at productively now, before they’re an issue in the heat (or cold) of the moment. Instead of deciding who to blame after a big freeze doesn’t go according to plan, companies working with EVs, utilities, and V2G projects in Texas need to think now about making sure there’s nothing to blame anybody for next time.
We know that jerks like Greg Abbott will lie about EVs, renewables, and energy storage regardless of what we do, but that doesn’t mean we need to make it easy for them!
Featured image provided by Toyota.
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