Volvo launches energy solutions business
The Sino-Swedish automaker aims to benefit from leaning into EV smart infrastructure
OEM Volvo Cars has launched an energy solutions business unit that will offer energy storage and bi-directional charging technologies and services.
The firm is launching a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot programme in its home city of Gothenburg, Sweden with local power utility Goteborg Energi to test the technologies.
“With bi-directional charging, you can use your car battery as an extra energy supply, for example to provide power to your home, other electric devices or another electric Volvo car,” says Alexander Petrofski, head of Volvo Cars Energy Solutions. “The next step would be to enable this feature all around Sweden, and hopefully that will pave the way for even broader acceptance of similar charging and energy storage services around Europe.”
Volvo has calculated that the total battery capacity of its fleet in Sweden will reach around 50GWh by 2025.
Data from the Volvo fleet shows that the average daily drive in Europe uses less than 10kWh, while 90pc of all daily drives use less than 20kWh — meaning cars are likely to have ample battery capacity remaining.
That battery capacity could be fed back to the local grid at times of peak electricity demand, with the car then charging at times of low demand, typically during the night.
“With the help of smart charging, you can charge your electric Volvo at the best available time from a sustainability and economy perspective,” says Petrofski. “Now imagine you could use that energy later, perhaps during peak times when prices are higher.”
As well as V2G technologies, Volvo’s new business unit will be looking at vehicle-to-home (V2H) and vehicle-to-load (V2L) products and services.
V2H technology allows customers to send back energy to their house to power appliances and reduce grid energy usage. Vehicle-to-load (V2L) services allow electric car batteries to charge other devices such as electric bicycles or equipment used outside the home.
Japanese OEM Honda and technology firm Mitsubishi signed a memorandum of understanding in mid-October to explore the possibility of V2G technology.
South Korea’s Hyundai, China’s MG and BYD and US OEM Ford's EVs also have V2L capabilities, while Kia’s EV9 and Nissan Leaf are amongst the vehicles currently on the market that offer V2G technology.
But consultancy Cenex predicts that the largest OECD markets for EV — France, the UK, the US, and Germany — will likely only experience commercial-scale V2G rollout by 2030-2035.
A McKinsey study on V2G technology in the US found that a number of hurdles need to be overcome before adoption becomes widespread. These include: clear, universal standards for chargers; predictable rate structures and a wider availability of certified bidirectional chargers.
The analysis found that a heavy-duty or medium-duty truck or school bus in Southern California had the potential to earn $7,000 to $12,000 per vehicle annually from V-2-X capabilities by 2030.
Polestar joins smart party
Volvo Cars is not the only member of the OEM brands associated with China's Geely making progress with greater integration into the wider smart EV infrastructure piece. EV pure play Polestar has announced a collaboration in the UK with charging firm Ohme for the latter to be official home charging partner.
The agreement will see Polestar recommend Ohme chargers for all its sales supporting drivers who need an EV charging solution. "With Ohme’s technology giving drivers the control to get more from their EVs, Ohme and Polestar are a natural partnership. Smart charging with Ohme could cost a Polestar driver just over £100 for an entire year of motoring,” says Ohme CEO David Watson.
"Ohme’s ability to charge when the National Grid has the highest levels of renewable energy while providing customers with a significant cost saving on charging makes this an ideal collaboration," says Jonathan Goodman, head of Polestar UK.
Ohme’s dynamic smart chargers can connect with the UK power grid in real time, with their software able to automatically adjust charging for drivers to take advantage of all the times of low price charging with smart off-peak tariffs. For a limited time, buyers of the Polestar 2 will also benefit from a package deal that sees a complimentary Ohme charger with standard installation included in the list price of the car.