Brad Wills explores some of the pros and cons of using electric vehicles for home energy resilience
There is no doubt that the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is skyrocketing. Already more than 112,000 plug-in electric vehicles (hybrid and battery) have been sold in 2022. Beyond the benefits this will have on the environment, the trend offers a new opportunity for our energy ecosystem as newly developed electric vehicles can be used as backup power. source for home. However, it is extremely important to understand what using EVs as alternative energy sources means for the larger grid.
With hurricane season approaching and natural gas prices soaring, home resiliency is already a crucial requirement for homeowners. Electric vehicles identified and promoted for their home power capabilities – as seen with the recently released Ford F-150 Lightning – are rapidly gaining popularity as a potential power source. Yet consumers often buy these cars without thinking too much about potential safety issues or what using an EV as a generator means at a granular level. What do these smart solutions mean for our energy ecosystem? What immediate actions should be taken to avoid a network outage?
Challenges in Preventing Power Grid Problems
While there are high hopes that internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will be replaced by electric vehicles, their gasoline-powered generator counterparts still have a role to play in the home resilience conversation. As many in Texas learned last year, adding a generator to a home electrical plan can’t be an afterthought. Homes should be pre-wired to allow easy and above all safe use of a generator, and roadblocks should be in place to prevent electricity from flowing back into the grid.
The truth is that when using renewable energy sources like electric vehicles for power, the installation process is not straightforward. This stems from the way homes have traditionally been wired: metaphorically, powering the home used to be a one-way street. As we add more renewable energy sources (rooftop solar, batteries, and now electric vehicles), this street becomes a highway and more complicated to navigate.
When a home has two or three solutions in play, the system progresses even further and feels like a full-fledged highway that requires additional (and equally complex) technologies for efficient and safe operation. Without these safeguards, there is an increased risk of electricity being fed back into the grid, creating a dangerous situation for all. Line workers were seriously injured and killed because secondary power sources were not isolated from the utility power grid.
The aspiration to action gap
Despite many complexities and challenges, there is no doubt that we need to provide homeowners with multiple backup or alternative power options, especially with the lingering questions about power grid resilience and society’s growing desire to become more sustainable. However, there remains a large gap between aspiration and action for lasting change to occur, particularly at the federal level, as the United States is only just beginning to recognize the need to invest more in its service infrastructure. public, with the recent push to modernize and expand the capacity of power. Grid.
The safest way to use an EV as a backup power source today
Despite the slow momentum in this space, there are solutions available that allow homeowners to use their EV as a power source – they are just not as simple as we would like. To properly use an EV as a backup generator, disconnecting other power lines and ensuring one-way flow is not only necessary, it’s crucial. At the consumer level, solutions such as Schneider Electric’s Square D Energy Center are able to streamline the architecture required to support bi-directional charging.
Create long-term solutions
While there are immediate steps consumers can take to safely harness the power of their new electric vehicle, these are only band-aid solutions at this time. Providing reliable home energy must involve more than homeowners; governments and suppliers must also play their part. Working in tandem, governments with the power to fund energy infrastructure transformations, providers tasked with developing safe renewable solutions, and consumers interested in these technologies have the power to make (safe) home energy resilience the norm. Through this collective effort, interest in energy resilience will increase as well as the funding needed to make it accessible. Only then will outages and outages commonly experienced in recent years become less frequent and homeowners can experience a more energy resilient future.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Brad Wills is Director of Strategic Customers and Programs at Schneider Electric
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