People like to spend their time off with friends and family. Be it on a sunny Sunday afternoon or on public holidays – many people jump into their cars for short trips into the city or the countryside. Now imagine that these people drive electric cars and have the opportunity to charge them for free during their holiday trips. What sounds like a marketing promise might become a reality in the future and open up new opportunities for EV drivers and companies alike, says Sytse Zuidema, CEO of New Motion.
Energy surplus during public holidays
The key to ‘free’ charging is energy surplus. An energy surplus occurs when more energy is produced and fed into the power grid than required. Since an increasing amount of energy is produced from renewable sources like sun and wind, an energy surplus most likely occurs on sunny or windy days. On sunny days more solar power is produced, while more wind energy is produced during windy weather. Also, energy surplus regularly happens during Sundays or holidays since there is less energy demand during those days: offices are closed, factories reduce their output, and people tend to enjoy these days outside using up less energy in their homes. Sunny and/or windy Sundays are typically the ideal conditions that result in an energy surplus.
An energy surplus can also lead to negative energy prices. This means that energy producers will have to pay to feed energy into the grid. On the other hand, an EV driver might even get money back if the car is charged with surplus energy. Combined with new technologies like Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) and smart charging solutions, this opens up a whole new world of opportunities for e-mobility.
For example, on Easter Monday 2019, there was an enormous energy surplus in Germany. Projected production exceeded demand which resulted in low and even negative prices for a total of 300 GWh1. This is enough to charge 25 million EVs or drive 1.5 billion electric kilometers – which corresponds to 37,500 trips around the globe. On the same day, overproduction led to negative prices for 100 GWh in France, as well as in and many other European countries. As more and more countries and municipalities focus on renewable energy sources, overproduction might even become a regular occurrence in many European regions.
Benefits for EV drivers
Although free charging during an energy surplus momentum is not possible yet, it might become reality in the future. Technologies such as V2X might soon enable drivers to charge smarter and more flexibly than ever. What benefits will EV drivers have when charging during times of energy surplus?
- Earn money: In the future, EV drivers might be able to earn money by charging their vehicles during times of energy surplus. Charge point operators and mobility service providers like NewMotion might offer an award system for charging during this timeframe with low demand or could even reimburse your charging costs.
- Charge green: On sunny days more renewable solar energy is generated. Thus, more green electricity is fed into the grid and people can charge their EVs with the power of the sun.
- Balance the grid: Charging during peak times of the energy production helps balance the grid and reduce the risk of grid failure or overload.
- Charge flexible: V2X technology enables EV drivers to charge more flexibly. Not only can people earn money while charging during times of energy surplus, V2X also enables them to use their car’s battery as an energy storage. When they need energy in their homes, the V2X system can feed it back from the car battery into their home’s power grid. They might even sell it back to the public grid during times of high demand.
What’s true for private homes is of course also valid for companies. For companies that maintain electric fleets or offer charging services for their customers, V2X and negative pricing will open up various new business opportunities. For example, companies could offer free charging to customers and employees during peak times or feed energy into their office buildings. They can even sell the energy stored in parked fleet cars when the demand is high and earn extra money.
1) Source: EPEX SPOT