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Through a cooperative agreement announced this week, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and General Motors (GM) declared intentions to investigate the feasibility of integrating bidirectional electric vehicles (EVs) onto the electric grid as local energy resources.
Though not the first to address or theorize on the issue, it would be a major win for renewables and electric vehicles, allowing the electric system to benefit from vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-home uses. Further, proponents like these companies hope it could improve both energy reliability and grid resiliency as long as they can nail down how to best make an interplay of EVs, chargers, and batteries. In this case, the new partners will study three capabilities, specifically: vehicle to home, vehicle to grid, and a virtual power plant to utilize distributed resources through cloud-based software.
“Vehicle-to-Grid technology can help transform our energy system and provide tangible, positive benefits to our customers in Southern California,” SDG&E CEO Caroline Winn said. “EVs can help us improve community and grid resiliency in the face of climate change as we work with the state and partners to meet our shared climate goals.”
GM also announced a new business unit to go along with this: GM Energy. Together with SDG&E, this unit will study the hardware, software, processes, and construction necessities to hasten vehicle to grid integration (VGI) options. In addition to the aforementioned, efforts will include documenting best practices to better communicate benefits to customers and integrating EVs into microgrids – smaller power grids that can be islanded during times of trouble to provide greater grid resiliency for communities.
“Through GM Energy, working with companies like SDG&E will play an important role in accelerating new technology and energy management solutions to market for customers,” Travis Hester, GM vice president of EV growth operations, said. “As GM continues on its journey towards an all-electric future, expanding the capabilities of EVs represents a significant opportunity to help strengthen grid resiliency and mitigate the impact of disruptions.”
The pair pointed out that cars are parked an average of 95 percent of their useful lifetimes, according to research from University of California Los Angeles professor Donald Shoup – raising their potential as an untapped resource, particularly as California transitions to all zero-emission new vehicle sales as of 2035.
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