Mobility Portal, Spain
Date: June 26, 2024
Innovation or controversy: bi-directional charging in the electric mobility debate
By Lucía Colaluce

Innovation or controversy: bi-directional charging in the electric mobility debate

During the International Mobility Portal Summit, industry leaders shared their visions for the future of bi-directional charging. What does this technology truly hold for us, and how might it revolutionize the way we use energy?
bi-directional charging

Amidst the ongoing development of electromobility in Europe, grid congestion remains an issue that’s hard to ignore, making bi-directional charging emerge as a potential innovative solution to alleviate this pressure.

Michael Keller, a board member of CharIN.

However, a duality of opinions arises among key industry figures: Is the continent ready for this system, or is it a technology too advanced?

I one respect, at the International Mobility Portal Summit organized by Mobility Portal Europe, a optimistic outlook emerged.

Taking a positive stance, Michael Keller, a board member of CharIN, states: “Overall, the system is very stable and the cure to supply all users and all loads on the grid.”

Fernando Nevado, technical sales advisor at Fronius Spain.

“Bi-directional charging is an important issue because it supports numerous future aspects that will happen if new energies on the grid become more and more flexible,” he elaborates.

Similarly, Fernando Nevado, Technical Sales Advisor at Fronius Spain, declared their firm’s belief in the feasibility of this alternative.

“Technically, we believe it is possible. In fact, we are already working on it to launch the first chargers to the market,” details the representative.

He further adds, “There should be specific regulations for these chargers with which we can support ourselves, and in turn, the manufacturers of the electric vehicles (EVs) should be ready to allow the recharging of this external element.”

Steven van der Burg, Sales Director at Ebusco.

Moreover, this type of charging is also being considered in other areas besides passenger cars.

In fact, Steven van der Burg, Sales Director at Ebusco, states that “bi-directional charging will come for the future.”

He also indicates: “Optimization will be extremely interesting to provide eBuses overnight, for a better grid balance.”

Furthermore, within bi-directional charging, there are derivatives, such as Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology, a system in which energy can be sold to the electrical grid by the driver of an EV or plug-in hybrid when it is connected to the grid during times when it is not used for transportation.

Hannes Schifferegger, Account Executive at gridX.

Regarding this, Hannes Schifferegger, Account Executive at gridX, states: “V2G has many components and will undoubtedly be present and remain in the energy sector.

And he adds: “We all know that it takes some time until car manufacturers and legislation are ready to offer such a service.”

However, not everyone shares the same confidence in this emerging technology.

Among attendees, more skeptical and critical positions on the topic were also expressed.

Torben Fog, co-founder and CIO of Spirii.

These divergent opinions add a layer of complexity to the debate surrounding bi-directional charging, underscoring the need for thorough analysis and a balanced approach to its implementation.

Torben Fog, Co-founder and CIO of Spirii, states: “Although V2G is something we’ve been looking for for a long time, it’s a bit ahead of us.”

On the other hand, providing a more decisive view on the new technique, Bart Scholte van Mast, Business Innovation Manager at go-e, concludes: “I see no benefit for V2G, smart charging is much more cost-effective and efficient.

Bart Scholte van Mast, business innovation manager at go-e.

“There are much better and cheaper methods, basically, by making software and creating legal possibilities to do exactly the same thing,” he determines later.

What does bi-directional charging really imply?

Bi-directional charging for electric vehicles is more than just a flow of charge in both directions; it represents a key innovation in electric mobility.

While traditional unidirectional chargers allow electricity to flow from the supply grid to the vehicle, bi-directional chargers open up the possibility for electricity to move in both directions.

How does this process work?

When an electric car is charged, alternating current (AC) from the supply grid is converted into direct current (DC) by the vehicle’s or charger’s converter, allowing the vehicle to use the electricity.

However, with bi-directional charging, the DC stored in the car’s battery can be returned to the grid or used in the home, requiring the DC to be converted back into AC. 

Although bi-directional equipment is not as common in the market, they all come equipped with internal converters that facilitate this conversion.

Moreover, these devices have the ability to control the amount of energy the battery sends or receives, making them a powerful tool for intelligent energy management in the future of electric mobility.

In addition to the aforementioned, the technology offers various utilities, adapting to different energy needs:

On one hand, Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), as mentioned earlier, allows the energy stored in the car’s battery to be returned to the electrical grid, contributing to the stabilization and flexibility of the electrical system.

This energy feedback capability can not only help balance demand and supply on the grid but also generate additional income for electric vehicle owners.

On the contrary, Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) harnesses the electricity from the car’s battery to power a home in case of power outages or to optimize electricity consumption during times of high demand. 

This function not only provides a reliable backup solution in emergency situations but also can help reduce energy costs by utilizing electricity stored during lower tariff periods.

Additionally, bi-directional charging also includes Vehicle-to-Load (V2L), which allows connecting other devices to the vehicle’s power outlet and using the battery’s energy for various applications, such as power tools or electronic devices

Such versatility offers electric car owners the ability to use their vehicle as a portable power source in a variety of situations, from recreational activities to home emergencies.

Finally, Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) facilitates an electric car being able to supply power to other electric units, such as electric bikes or scooters, expanding the possibilities of sustainable mobility and creating a more interconnected and efficient energy ecosystem. 

This collaboration between different modes of transportation helps maximize the use of stored energy and promotes greater autonomy and flexibility in urban mobility.

Relive the International Mobility Portal Summit:

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