Toyota says it is setting up a pilot plant in the US to work on vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology that will allow vehicles to transfer energy from their battery back onto the electric grid.
V2G is widely regarded as an added incentive to motorists to go electric as they will be able to sell the car’s excess energy back to the power company, though few vehicles to date are equipped with the necessary technology.
Toyota’s pilot will be run by its electric vehicle charging solutions team, in partnership with Texas electric transmission and distribution group Oncor, marking the first time the world’s biggest automaker will collaborate with a public utility around battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
“We envision a future where Toyota BEVs provide a best-in-class mobility experience, but also can be utilized by our customer to power their homes, their communities or even power back the electric grid in times of need,” said Christopher Yang, group vice president of Toyota Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions in a statement.
“Our collaboration with Oncor is an important step for us to understand the needs of utilities, as we plan to work closely with them to ensure every community can embrace Toyota’s shift to electrified vehicles,” he said.
Vehicle-to-grid describes a system in which plug-in EVs communicate with the power grid to sell demand response services by either returning electricity to the grid or by throttling their charging rate.
Toyota and Oncor are counting on results from the pilot program to leave them better prepared to support the broader EV charging ecosystem in the US.
Toyota is also hoping it will lead to an elevated the customer experience for Toyota BEV customers, as well as accelerating efforts in carbon neutrality and providing advances in business opportunities.
“Electrification is coming, and it’s Oncor’s job to build a safer, smarter, more reliable electric grid that can enable the needs of our customers, the state of Texas and the ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) market,” Oncor executive vice president and chief operating officer Jim Greer said.
ERCOT operates Texas’s electrical grid, which supplies power to more than 25 million customers and accounts for 90 percent of the state’s electric load.
“We appreciate Toyota’s collaboration in pursuing innovative energy solutions through this endeavour, and we look forward to someday implementing the lessons learned from this pilot project in benefit of the many communities we serve,” Greer said.
How the pilot program will work
Initially, the two companies have agreed to a research project that will use Oncor’s research and testing microgrid near Toyota’s U.S. headquarters. The microgrid is made up of four interconnected microgrids that can be controlled independently, but also operated in parallel, tandem or combined into a single, larger system.
The microgrid and its subsystems also include a “V2G” charger, solar panels and battery storage for testing and evaluation. Toyota and Oncor plan to use a BEV along with the system to better understand the interconnectivity between BEVs and utilities.
Beyond this initial phase, a second phase of the project slated for 2023 will include a V2G pilot where testing will be conducted with BEVs connected at homes or businesses within Oncor’s service territory.