Electric cars will save money when they stay plugged in

The implementation of “smart” charging stations for electric cars is still in its infancy, but two technologies tested in particular in the southern French city of Villeneuve-le-Avignon should contribute to reducing CO2 emissions, stabilizing the grid and even reducing fees. .

“There are only 200 such terminals in France. Tens of thousands will be needed for this, and that will happen,” assures Tanguy Poupart, founder of Dreev, a subsidiary of EDF, which specializes in the development of smart charging for electricity. transport wehicles.

Behind him, in the small parking lot of the municipal technical center of Villeneuve-les-Avignon, two white utilities are connected to one of the so-called “V2G” terminals that have been installed for nearly two years in this town of 12,000 inhabitants. City of Popes.

Soon, two new “V1G” type terminals will be installed behind the town hall, especially for charging municipal vehicles.

V1G, or smart charging, allows terminals to optimize vehicle charging, for example, taking into account the local production of solar panels. This nifty management saves up to 20% on the bill, according to EDF, which plans to launch its first offer open to individuals in the spring.

– Car to Network –

Vehicle to home (V2H) and vehicle to grid (V2G) technologies go even further.

In development, they allow electric vehicles to charge their batteries when electricity is plentiful (at night or when the wind is blowing). When there is no power (for example, in the evening), they tap back into the home (V2H), the neighborhood, or the grid in general (V2G).

On the way home, the driver shows the autonomy he will need the next day and his terminal controls the charge according to his needs and the needs of the network.

“This is one of the solutions for tomorrow’s electricity system,” emphasizes Olivier Dubois, responsible for electric mobility at EDF. “This will enable the development of intermittent renewable energies (solar, wind). This will prevent the need to call thermal power plants during peak periods, in winter.”

With the spread of electric cars, V2G could meet the electricity storage needs of most countries around the world by 2030, according to calculations by Chengjian Xu, a researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

This calculation also includes the reuse of used batteries, which are considered insufficient for cars due to a 20% or 30% loss of autonomy, but remain valuable for storage.

Olivier Dubois explains that V2G should first be developed for systematically connecting buses or trucks.

The Occitanie region supports communities and companies to equip themselves with 1,500 euros for V1G and 3,000 euros for V2G.

The UK is also experimenting with several hundred chargers, while Renault and Hyundai are testing such equipment in car parks in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Renault on Monday unveiled a new compatible charger that will hit the market in 2024.

“It’s promising, but it’s not a miracle solution,” said Luis Lopez, an expert at the International Energy Agency. This storage capacity on wheels will likely be insufficient and will also be needed for the electrical system, charging stations and cars to “speak the same language”.

– Snowstorm –

Several car models are starting to talk about V2G: in addition to the flagship Nissan Leaf, the most powerful Volkswagens (77kWh motor) are compatible with this two-way charging, as well as some Teslas.

In the United States, Ford F-150 pickup trucks have already provided electricity to destroyed homes after hurricanes or during snowstorms.

Xu warns that drivers will not plug into the grid unless asked to. This will include the creation of micropayments for individuals and bonds for businesses.

Owners of electric vehicles may especially fear that these cycles will reduce battery life, which is limited to a few thousand cycles. Renault’s head of advanced technologies, Jean-Francois Sales, assures that, unlike ultra-fast chargers, “soft” charging at the terminal at home does not harm the chemistry of the batteries.

“+ Lunging + the battery can keep it up, it’s like a mobile phone,” emphasizes Mr. Salessy. “And if you go on vacation, you leave your car plugged in and it makes money while you’re gone.”

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