A new study on Tuesday found that electric car batteries could significantly boost the storage capacity of electricity grids and accelerate the transition away from planet-harming greenhouse gases.
Renewable energy is important for the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, but the need to scale up quickly and the intermittency of wind and solar have raised concerns about meeting electricity demand.
One best method to help solve this problem is boosting the storage capacity of electricity grids so that even when there is no sun or wind energy supply won't be interrupted.
New research published Tuesday found that EV batteries could help boost short-term grid storage in times of increased demand or lower supply, either by setting up "vehicle-to-grid" or "second use" schemes.
"Harnessing this potential will have critical implications for the energy transition," said the study published in Nature Communications.
A "vehicle-to-grid" approach would allow drivers to connect car batteries to the grid for short term-storage when needed, the authors said.
Take an example, commercial fleets could inject power into the grid when at a depot. "Second-use" schemes will allow drivers to donate or sell EV batteries once they can no longer be used to power vehicles, which is generally when their capacity falls less than 70 to 80%.
Micro payments - Even a low level of participation from drivers can make a big difference, the researchers said.
"Less particpation rates of 12% to 43% are required to give short-term grid storage demand globally", study co-author Chengjian Xu, of Leiden University in The Netherlands, told AFP.
"Short-term grid storage demand could be met as early as 2030 across most regions", he added, saying this was a conservative estimate.
By reaching 2050, it would exceed the storage capacity needed to help limit global warming to well below 2C, as outlined by the International Renewable Energy Agency.
The work examined global data - along with the main electric car battery markets in India, China, the European Union and US - taking into consideration average driving distances, driver behavior and temperature, all of whic can affect car battery health condition.
The authors said that the governments should introduce incentives and regulations to ensure vehicle-to-grid and second use schemes can take off.
"This can include market-based efforts such as micro-payments for services to the grid," Chengjian said, adding that vehicle-to-grid use would have little harm on battery life.
Few car firms like Hyundai and Renault are already testing EVs equipped with vehicle-to-grid-technology, while few Teslas are already compatible.
The International Energy Agency estimates that there will be some 200 million electric cars sold in 2030 about 20% of all cars sold an 11 fold increase from toda's numbers.
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