Canadian Electric Vehicle-To-Grid Project Uses Blockchain

Electric vehicles have a number of benefits that gas-powered ones do not. To name just a few, they have zero direct toxic emissions, they produce very little road noise, they have fewer moving parts that need replacement or repairs, and in some cases their batteries can be re-purposed for second life use in stationary energy storage products. Another advantage is vehicle-to-grid technology (V2G), which allows plugged-in EVs to draw electricity from the grid and they can also send it back.

In Canada, a V2G project is using a Nissan Leaf connected to a technology platform created by SWTCH that allows electricity to flow from the Leaf’s battery to a multi-tenant building. SWTCH’s CEO, Carter Li, answered some questions about the project for CleanTechnica.

Why is the SWTCH blockchain-based, EV-to-Building pilot being conducted?

The three-year pilot demonstrates how commercial and multi-family building operators can accommodate the growing demand for EV charging stations while simultaneously improving the building’s energy efficiency and reducing building operational costs. Leveraging SWTCH’s bidirectional, vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging technology, our pilot will explore viability of vehicle-to-grid charging technology in high-density multi-tenant buildings to store energy using EVs during off-peak hours and redistribute that energy to the building and other uni-directional EV chargers during on-peak hours. The technology and model developed by SWTCH is unique as it includes a financial incentive structure for EV owners to participate in the program which leverages blockchain technology. The SWTCH platform tracks when energy is being discharged from an EVs battery and when it’s being charged, creating a history of credits and debits securely managed through a third-party distributed ledger system that participants can monitor using their smartphones.

What are the pilot project goals?

The clean energy pilot aims to improve the electric vehicle (EV) charging access in high-density buildings by addressing the barriers to deploying EV charging infrastructure within the built environment by creating an energy distribution business model that benefits both building operators and EV owners. As electric vehicles gain popularity and adoption, the question of how to accommodate a rise in EV charging infrastructure without additional strain on building electrical infrastructure and the electrical grid becomes increasingly relevant. Vehicle-to-grid technology allows buildings to draw energy from EVs during on-peak hours rather than the grid. During the pilot, the V2G-enabled EVs will store energy during off-peak hours and redistribute that energy to the building and the EV chargers in use, creating an energy flow that is cost-effective and environmentally sustainable. The project also employs bi-directional V2G DCFC charging stations, smart unidirectional Level 2 AC charging stations, and stationary battery energy storage systems as distribute energy resource assets for demand response, peak shaving, and peer-to-peer energy trading purposes.

Image credit: IBI Group

What are the potential benefits of using V2G technology for EV owners and for building owners?

V2G and energy storage technologies could provide a low-cost alternative to ramping up expensive, carbon-intense generation in the face of accelerating demand from EVs. Building load management and demand response (DR) could manage the speed at which cars charge to mitigate their peak demand impact, and the same technology could enable V2G using EV batteries to reduce demand peaks during the times when EVs go unused and the grid is strained. V2G will also provide the additional grid-critical resources for primary and secondary frequency control as well as help grid operators better manage line constraints and forecast demand. Additionally, implementation of demand response technologies will provide a cost-effective solution to managing increased energy demand from localized, high-density deployments of EVSE. Finally, our project’s open standards approach to demand response and distributed energy resource aggregation will increase penetration of EVSE and DER assets in the power grid, alleviate constraints on distribution networks from localized, high-density deployment of EV charging infrastructure, and allow energy storage units to respond to real-time individual EV charging demand.

Why was a Nissan Leaf selected for the pilot rather than a different kind of EV?

Currently, only CHAdeMO-port based EVs are capable of V2G out of the box. As the Nissan Leaf is the most prevalent CHAdeMO-based light-duty passenger vehicle on the North American market today, we selected it because it was the most standard representative of a V2G-enabled light-duty passenger EV.

How will you determine if the pilot is a success or not, and how will you share the results?

The overall objective is to demonstrate that EV charging stations and bi-directional EV energy storage systems can be aggregated and optimized using blockchain-technologies as DER assets to respond to market generated location and time specific price signals. DER assets will be optimally aggregated and controlled to provide rate mitigating tools for LDCs and charger providers to respond to price signals and reduce peak loads. Project plans to successfully reduce daily peak load by up to 25% through EV charging operation optimization using V2G, battery energy storage, and DER aggregation technologies. Project aims to also reduce EV charging transaction costs by up to 50% per transaction through a blockchain-enabled wallet payment system. Project results will be shared at EV industry conferences, trade shows, online publications, and white papers.

Image credit: IBI Group

If the pilot is successful, will the EV to building technology be expanded to more EVs and more buildings?

Yes, through our partnership with IBI Group and Slate Asset Management, as part of the Smart City Sandbox initiative, we plan to expand our technology to high-density commercial buildings across North America. The mission of the Smart City Sandbox has always been to cultivate the next generation of smart buildings and infrastructure by bringing together established market leaders with innovative technology startups to develop technologies that improve efficiency, the environment, and citizen engagement. We believe the pilot embodies all tenets of this mission by allowing EV owners to participate in an innovative solution that supports decarbonization and promotes sustainability in our cities.


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