Automakers and consumers alike are waking up to the bevy of benefits offered by electric vehicles, whether it be lowering operating costs, cheaper insurance, or just the fun offered by instant torque. One benefit of EVs that doesn’t get nearly enough attention though is their ability to plug back into the power grid or serve as mobile battery banks in remote locations, or on the scene of a natural disaster.
In light of the devastating earthquake that has rattled Nepal, the importance of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) has once again highlighted how important battery-powered vehicles can be in an emergency situation. Cars like the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV provided emergency power and transportation in the wake of Japan’s tragic earthquake/tsunami combo. VIA Motors often highlights the ability of its VTrux to provide electricity to remote locations, which could come in good use for firefighters or other emergency works. Nissan is continuing to improve the V2G capability of the LEAF EV, with the hopes that it could provide several days of backup power to properly equipped homes.
Alas, Nepal has relatively few electric vehicles, and with most of the country’s transportation still reliant on fossil fuels, remote areas of the country are finding themselves running low on the energy needed to maintain the bare necessities. When combined with a solar power array, an electric car can provide limited but long-term electricity for those cut off from civilization. Unless you have an oil refinery on site, once the gas or diesel is gone, combustion engines become basically useless.
But if the world transitions to microgrids powered by wind and solar power, backed by banks of stationary batteries and EVs, then it would greatly aid humanitarian efforts like those going on in Nepal and other hard-hit areas right now. Electric cars aren’t just about a cleaner atmosphere — they are tools to ensure the betterment and safety of all mankind. That might sound like a lot of hyperbole, but at least in my opinion, the benefits of EVs to society as a whole are getting harder and harder to overlook, even for the staunchest opponents.