Germans Poised to Earn Money by Owning a Nissan Leaf
With governments everywhere attempting to reduce powerplant emissions while simultaneously moving the teeming masses out of ICE vehicles and into electric cars, an energy brick wall quickly approaches. You’re faced with a situation where more people are drawing more power from the grid, but — for environmental or financial reasons — generating more power is out of the question.
In Germany, one solution is to get those EV drivers to stop what they’re doing and plug back into the grid, allowing the contents of their just-filled batteries to flow back into the plug it came from. Goodbye, brownouts. Possibly. If the solution seems odd and potentially self-defeating, it is, but the country’s government just approved the Nissan Leaf for exactly this use.
As reported by Reuters (via Automotive News Europe), the German government’s thumbs-up makes the Leaf the first EV approved for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) power generation. To make the system viable, Leaf owners would have to utilize a wall charger capable of reversing the flow of current, drawing the car’s power back into the grid.
“We strongly believe in an emission-free future,” Guillaume Pelletreau, Vice President and Managing Director of Nissan Center Europe, said in a statement. “Leaf batteries could make an important contribution to energy transition in Germany and a sustainable future.”
The UK, as well as other European countries, began examining this type of system years ago. Currently, a UK government-backed 2-year pilot project is examining the feasibility of such a setup. It also uses Nissan Leafs. The pilot shows how car owners would be compensated for having strangers tap into their car’s juice, though this method only seems to work if the car owners are also homeowners.
How exactly Germany plans to compensate the Leaf owners isn’t immediately clear. Calling on Leafs and other electric vehicles to be pressed into service as mobile power stations during periods of high energy use is a novel idea, but owners won’t feel compelled to do it unless a different type of green flows into their wallets. While EV owners talk a good game about helping their fellow man, no one likes feeling like a chump.
HotPotato on Oct 24, 2018
V2G would be an interesting idea in places where extremes of climate and geography are leading to accidental or deliberate brownouts on a regular basis. The ol' fires, floods, n' mudlsides trio. Of course, if your neighborhood is browned out, it's probably in an evacuation zone, so you and your EV are probably both long gone from your garage.
Conundrum on Oct 24, 2018
Electricity Distribution systems vary widely by country. Canada/US are similar with the notable exception of New York City, but Britain operates on a different ring main system from local transformers, with both them and wiring underground except in really rural areas, where their version of overhead is primitive. Don't know about Germany. And no, I'm not talking about high voltage transmission, just distribution at lower voltages from substations. Having random houses and or small hydro producers wanting to feed back into the grid here required some thought as to what backfeeding voltage into downed lines does for the safety of linemen out repairing damage after a storm. A home generator trying to power several hundred homes on a suburban line back to the fault will just cough and die, because it cannot support the load - a toaster will make small units moan, and an electric water heater will stop it. But every situation is different and the average citizen's understanding of how the system works is somewhere between zero and minus 11. Hence the need to isolate a home with a generator from the local system in dire circumstances and the squawks from homeowners at the expense of installing such disconnect equipment was fierce. Now there are solar-powered houses everywhere and things are standardized. Voltage support for brownouts is another matter. On the face of it, it all seems lovely, but a few then maybe a plethora of EVs trying to support the local grid becomes an operational issue unless the grid is undamaged. Then how the backfeed is controlled so as to not discharge a battery too rapidly has to be taken into account. Perhaps the Germans have all this figured out. Using a giant 290,000 kWh battery such as Tesla supplied to the obviously incompetently-planned South Australia Electricity authority's system is much easier to operate than a bunch of pipsqueak batteries randomly located. On the face of it, it would seem more logical for the EV to just power the residence of the vehicle's owner under brownout conditions, and be isolated from the local grid. If enough homes and their associated loads are removed from the grid, the lower power/load requirement from the grid will automatically raise brownout voltage levels locally for the remainder of the customers. Who knows what they're thinking in Germany ... Whoever wrote that the ratty efficiency of changing AC to DC to charge a battery then the other way around to support voltage under brownout, wasn't wrong. It's like everyone has decided to use what was once regarded as a technically pure but expensive source of energy to instead become the prime mover of future society. And all the jumping up and down about wind and solar replacing base-load thermal plants because it can generate energy cheaply when it is actually windy or sunny, overlooks the need for 24/7 electrical power supply, and large industrial loads. General knowledge for how an electrical supply system actually works is, as I said, somewhere between zero and minus 11. People disregard any reason but what suits them personally, and cannot or will not grasp the wider implications, tossing them into the garbage can of irrelevancy so far as they're concerned. The rugged individualism approach is useless for the power distribution system, no matter what the logic of its propounders, whether propelled by political views or blue-sky dreaming. After all, the average person thinks that if they live next to a hydro dam that somehow their energy comes from there, directed by magical forces that have about zero to do with an interconnected alternating current electrical supply grid. Then we have politicians who are of course, those all-knowing intellects who try to inject their expertise on technical matters attempting to muscle reality into their limited horizons of experiential thinking. Sure, everyone's a techno marvel these days, if running an app on a smartphone makes you an Einstein. Or a Tesla, the real one.
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