How Much Money Can I Make, Granting Smart-Grid, Public Access To My Electric Car Batteries?

Daily grid load versus power regulation or "conditioning," for increased grid reliability.
Image credit:John Laumer, courtesy PJM & University of Delaware

Last week we approached the question of How Long Will Tomorrow's Automotive Lithium Batteries Last? Short answer: battery longevity won't be an issue for electric car owners. This follow-up post extrapolates from that answer, with the question: "What is the profit-making potential for vehicle to grid (V2G) sharing of electric vehicle battery power?"

Note: we previously explained "vehicle to grid (V2G)" technology in the post titled, Who Revived The Electric Car?

Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center energy researchers have some preliminary estimates of revenue producing capacities for V2G. Short answer: you can make a buck; but, profitability of grid sharing is highly dependent upon battery replacement cost (hence the concern with longevity). See below for details.The preliminary abstract from the research follows. I'll post more details when the paper goes final. Meantime, wish me luck explaining this at a Town Hall Meeting. (joke)

This post headline focused only a single aspect of battery power sharing: regional grid power conditioning, via networked electric vehicle access. Another approach would be to charge one's car batteries on off-peak hours and, if the car is going to stay garaged at home and is charged, use some of that power during peak hours to run home appliances and lighting.

A corollary would be for the electric vehicle's owner, while parked at work, to lease battery power access rights to his employer. This assumes the owner would end the work day with enough juice left in his car to drive home, or whatever.

Smart grid technology will be the glue that holds such opportunities together. See our related posts, below, for further explanation.

The Economics of Using PHEV Battery Packs for Grid Storage
By: Scott Peterson, Jay Apt, and Jay Whitacre

We examine the potential economic implications of using vehicle batteries to store grid electricity generated at off-peak hours for off-vehicle use during peak hours. Hourly electricity prices in three U.S. cities were used to arrive at daily profit values, while the economic losses associated with battery degradation were calculated based on data collected from A123 Systems LiFePO4/Graphite cells tested under combined driving and off-vehicle electricity utilization. For a 16 kWh vehicle battery pack, the maximum annual profit with perfect market information and no battery degradation cost ranged from ~$140 to $250 in the three cities. If the measured battery degradation is applied, however, the maximum annual profit (if battery pack replacement costs fall to $5,000 for a 16 kWh battery) decreases to ~$10-$120. It appears unlikely that these profits alone will provide sufficient incentive to the vehicle owner to use the battery pack for electricity storage and later off-vehicle use. We also estimate grid net social welfare benefits from avoiding the construction and use of peaking generators that may accrue to the owner, finding that these are similar in magnitude to the energy arbitrage profit.

Related posts.
What Exactly Is A Smart Grid?
Q&A; With PJM President & CEO Terry Boston
Plug-Ins Have Higher CO2 Emissions Than Traditional Hybrids Car When Coal Fires Grid, Study Shows