Tackle existing challenges before V2X

Bidirectional charging offers a world of possibilities. But execs suggest we need to get the basics right first

Tackle existing challenges before V2X

“Sometimes I feel we go very, very fast without getting the basics to work,” Michael Halbherr, CEO of Swiss charging infrastructure supplier ABB E-mobility, told the IAA Mobility conference in Munich earlier this month — as he cautioned about going too fast on V2X, where EV batteries share back their power with either domestic homes (V2H), external devices (V2L) or the grid itself (V2G).

“There has never been an energy transition or mobility transition being done so fast,” he continues. “I personally feel that at the moment we need to go and make the current stuff work, and then we can move forward.”

With the rise of decentralised renewables, Halbherr already sees “less hierarchical energy systems” — citing as an example the French initiative to mandate solar panels on parking lots. The norm where electricity is always sourced from the grid will change, he predicts.

But it may be too early to expect V2G to play an imminent role. “There is a lot of technology involved to make this work — AC charge will have to move to DC for V2X,” he says.

“There is this dream where you have a multi-tenant house where all the cars in the basement can act as a battery for the house and you trade the energy. But there is a lot of work in load management and business models for this to work,” Halbherr cautions.

V2G is “quite attractive for everybody trying to add more use cases to the same environment for an infrastructure developer”, says Dmitris Bountolos, chief information and innovation officer for Spanish infrastructure firm Ferrovial. But, again, he is cautious of running before we can walk. V2G “will require such a level of standardisation, and we are far away from fulfilling the basics”, he warns.

But Mujeeb Ijaz, CEO of American battery supplier Our Next Energy, is much more bullish. “Bidirectional charging and being able to connect a vehicle and aggregate that energy to the grid makes a ton of sense,” he contends.

“If you think about 15 years ago and the advent of smartphones, I would have never predicted that so many industries would be born from a portal that was originally about communication — it became banking, became instant food delivery, became everything that you needed to connect your life,” he says. “It went from a communication device into much more than that in terms of our ability to connect and to aggregate business opportunity.

“Vehicles that have energy have the same opportunity,” Ijaz says. “We are thinking of it as transportation. But… that bidirectionality will create an ecosystem of new business opportunity.

“And think about rural countries where electrification and infrastructure being deployed is a problem. Mobility can bring infrastructure in aggregate distributed local networks in a unique way in the long term. I think, 15 years from now, bidirectional is an absolute standard, and then the business model grows,” he predicts.

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