What’s powering renewable energy adoption? Part 2/3

Powering Electric Vehicle Adoption

Since Tesla popularized electric vehicles, consumers consistently cited affordability, range and charging station infrastructure as reasons they may not purchase an EV. A 2020 survey by Consumer Reports found 71% of respondents would consider buying an EV at some point in the future but many wanted an EV that could travel more than 300 miles (50% of respondents) and many were concerned about purchase price (43% of respondents). 

In the past decade, the median range for EVs has increased by almost 4x with many now surpassing the 300-mile range consumers desire. This increase in range is influenced by the innovations in battery technology and storage, enabling EVs to travel further and charge faster to directly address consumers’ desires. 

Source: EPA 

By 2024, Consumer Reports estimates that over 100 battery electric vehicles will debut in North America. Battery improvements are driving additional competition and making EVs a necessary part of any automaker’s lineup. This increase in competition will help address the key concerns consumers have when considering purchasing an EV. 

In addition to improving affordability and driving range, automakers are highlighting new features enabled by EV batteries. The new Ford F-150 Lightning can power a household for up to ten days with power rationing on a single charge. The vehicle-to-household technology enables EVs to help consumers address concerns about power outages and rolling blackouts that are increasingly common due to high energy demands and extreme weather events. 

In 2011, there were only 16,000 battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles sold in the United States. In 2021 434,879 EVs and 801,550 hybrid vehicles were sold. While there are many factors that contribute to the adoption of EVs, lithium-ion battery technology is one of the key drivers.

Powering Vehicle-to-Grid Technology 

As batteries continue to increase storage capacity, much of that stored energy may not be used on a daily basis. Many EVs sit idle during the day and night, creating opportunities to leverage their stored energy in ways that can help offset the cost of ownership. 

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology enables EV batteries to return unused energy to local power grids. This technology enables them to power homes (like the Ford F-150 Lightning) during a power outage, supply local grids with electricity during peak hours and potentially provide owners with a small passive revenue stream while their EVs are parked and charging. 

Currently, less than 1% of school buses in America are electric according to the World Resources Institute. One reason for this slow adoption is the higher upfront cost for an electric school bus (around $230,000) compared to a diesel school bus (around $110,000). While the long-term fuel and maintenance savings generally offset the upfront cost differential, many districts are hesitant to convert their fleets. 

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act addresses this by allocating $5 billion to the electrification of buses. While federal funding will drive adoption in the long run, V2G technology presents an additional, more immediate incentive for districts to electrify their fleets. 

School buses are in use for a few hours per day and are generally unused during summers. This is an ideal case for V2G technology allowing electric buses to contribute power to regional electric grids and school districts to be compensated. 

In Beverly, Massachusetts, the Beverly Public School District piloted this use case. They reported that one of its leased electric buses supplied 3 MWh of electricity to the regional electric grid during the summer. Overall, it provided power to the grid for 50 hours over 30 events during the summer. Not only did this help lower strain during peak hours, the Beverley Public School District was compensated for its energy services which helped offset the upfront cost. 

This example highlights an important use case created by battery storage improvements. V2G can provide an additional passive revenue stream for companies, school districts and even consumers. This incentive helps create a passive way for owners to offset some of the upfront costs of switching to an electric vehicle while contributing to a more sustainable power grid.

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