You may have heard of the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) concept in which electric vehicles can supply their battery power to electricity grids during peak hours and other electricity shortages. Nissan recently decided to apply a somewhat similar concept to the Nissan Advanced Technology Center in Atsugi City, Japan. The company calls it “Vehicle-to-Building.” During peak hours, when electricity prices are highest, the vehicles supply their battery power to the building, enabling them to avoid this peak charge.
Wait… doesn’t the battery power come from the grid anyway?
Yes, it does. However, the energy stored in the car batteries is cheaper, as it is obtained during off-peak hours, when electricity prices are lowest. Nissan said it achieved this without affecting workers’ commutes, and the electric vehicles‘ batteries are guaranteed to be fully charged by the end of the day.
According to Nissan, this will also be applied to homes. The company calls this “Leaf to Home.”
It is a win-win situation because power grids get to sell their surplus electricity, and homes/buildings get to enjoy cheaper electricity.
Why Does All This Matter? Why Is Electricity More Expensive In The Afternoon?
Typical thermal power plants (coal, natural gas steam, and nuclear) are slow to adjust to fluctuations in power demand. Therefore, when electricity demand spikes during the peak hours mentioned, they cannot scale up in time, and in some cases, they can’t scale up at all, due to a lack of generation capacity. Therefore, peaking power plants are used instead, as they can start quickly to prevent blackouts and brownouts. There is a catch, though. Peaking power plants are expensive, which is why electricity is expensive during peak hours.
Similarly, excess electricity supply from thermal power plants at night results in very cheap electricity at night. In regions where prices are based on this demand and supply balance (like in the story above), if you have the ability to “buy low and sell high,” you can make some serious cash.
Image Credit: Nissan
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