Potential of electric vehicles

Electrical Cars as Mobile Storage Units

Based on the premise that renewable electricity is used for charging, electric mobility is one of the keys to a sustainable, environment-friendly and zero-carbon mobility.

Apart from these obvious advantages, electric vehicles have further positive and innovative application possibilities: huge electrical storage capacities can be built up with the batteries of electric cars. An average four-person-household in Germany could for example be provided with enough energy for one week with a 90 kilowatt hours (kWh) battery from the Tesla Model S. Furthermore the German Energy Transformation Initiative Agora Energiewende estimates the technical and economic potential for battery storage systems in Germany at around 200 gigawatts (GW), with electric mobility accounting for 125 GW.

Load Shifting & Grid Stabilization

If one considers the current electricity infrastructure that has to cope with an increasing share of fluctuating renewable power from windmills and PV solar panels, electrical energy storage solutions – as electric vehicles can provide – will become crucial for grid stability.

If the amount of electricity being produced is too high in comparison to the current consumption, electric vehicles can be charged automatically and can therefore store the excess power (e.g. at night when there is usually less energy demand). During peak use periods (e.g. in the evenings) electric vehicles that are connected to the electrical grid can offer the possibility to feed in electricity into the grid from their batteries or can throttle their charging rate. The idea is called vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and is based on the technology of bidirectional charging and smart software solutions that enable intelligent load shifting. Large scale adoption of electric vehicles and their storage capacities have in addition the potential to reduce the need for new power plants as well as new power lines if V2G will be an integral part of smart grids. The batteries from one million electric vehicles could e.g. absorb more solar power and wind power from the grid than all the German pumped storage power plants together.

New Business Models and Market Opportunities

An increasing use of electric vehicles will lead to new business models and market opportunities along the whole value chain. New technological innovations and services will e.g. emerge in the whole field of the charging infrastructure (charging hardware like charging poles, wall boxes, plugs etc. or charging services and navigation), in the power sector (e.g. smart grid applications like demand-side management) and of course in the automotive industry itself (e.g. batteries). New business models arise also in the recycling industry; worn-out electric car batteries have still sufficient capacity to be combined into stationary large-scale storage systems, which could provide system services or an uninterruptable power supply.