Electric vehicles (EVs) may provide a powerful jolt to supply sustainable power to our electric grids.
Through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, battery power from EVs can be harnessed to power homes or share stored energy with electric grids as demand rises. Semiconductor technology will be essential in the V2G rollout, driving electrification forward with new charging and battery-storage solutions.
Here are five things our company’s experts think you should know about V2G:
V2G can ease the strain on aging electric grids
“The problem is not the grid’s overall capacity. The challenge is the grid’s peak capacity. Spikes in demand are getting higher and coming more often as we grow more reliant on power. V2G semiconductor technology could help smooth out these peaks, which can mean less frequent outages and lower overall cost of energy. A key part of this is providing people with smart technologies that can make it easy for them to know the optimal time to charge their EVs. So long as they are not all charging at the same time, like in the evening when they come home from work, the grid will be able to cope.”
- Henrik Mannesson, general manager for grid infrastructure
Bidirectional charging is paving the way to V2G
“Bidirectional charging — the technology that enables electric current to flow in both directions — will become a ubiquitous feature of EVs as more carmakers and owners embrace the idea of using vehicle batteries as power sources. The cost of moving to bidirectional charging is low for EVs, given that they already have onboard chargers and much of the required hardware already fitted. Bidirectional charging is not just about cars returning power to the grid. It also enables EVs to provide power to the home. That will be useful during power outages, for example, allowing people to have a ready backup supply from their EV batteries.”
- Jason Cole, product line manager for current sensing products
V2G will need rapid and efficient charging technology
“The ability of EVs to charge up and give power back to the grid quickly is key for V2G to work. Fast charging means transferring current efficiently from the grid to an EV battery and vice versa. This is where wide-bandgap technology like gallium nitride (GaN) comes in. GaN enables higher power density and efficiency than traditional silicon-based semiconductors for applications transferring power between EVs and the grid. The higher efficiency means less energy is lost to heat. That ensures minimal power is wasted in charging, helping to lower costs and easing the burden on the grid.”
- David Snook, product line manager for GaN products
Current sensing technology will boost V2G efficiency
“Bidirectional charging between EVs and the grid may be conceptually straightforward but the process itself requires sophisticated sensing technology. Sensors must be able to accurately and reliably measure current and voltage between EVs and the charging infrastructure. The better the measurement, the more efficiently energy can be transferred from the grid into the car and vice versa. Sensors paired with semiconductor technology not only meet this need, but also handle high voltages and minimize electromagnetic radiation, enabling uncorrupted measurements and communication to maximize charging efficiency.”
- Navin Kommaraju, product line manager for isolated ADC and isolated amplifier portfolios
Advanced connectivity will help grid operators manage power loads
“For V2G to work on a mass scale, it will require robust and flexible connectivity technologies to help grid operators anticipate and service power demand sustainably across a broad network of charging stations in all manner of locations and settings. This will mean collecting and sharing large volumes of data to ensure that power is available where needed and inform EV owners about the optimal time to charge up or give power back to the grid. Connectivity must be able to bridge multiple platforms, linking human-machine interfaces to EVs and charging stations to the cloud. Smart processors that can harness artificial intelligence (AI) technology are key to enabling this level of connectivity. As more data is collected over time, AI can enable more accurate at predicting optimal charging times and locations for EV owners based on grid behavior and usage patterns.”
- Artem Aginskiy, product line manager for Sitara™ MPU processors
Through bidirectional power conversion, current and voltage sensing, connectivity and energy storage, the relationship between EVs and the grid is becoming more dynamic and connected than ever before. As more EVs hit the road, it will be critical to balance energy consumption and demand, and take steps to increase the grid’s capacity and efficiency through innovations in semiconductor technology.