Your future home might be powered by car batteries
When Damien Maguire moved to the countryside outside Dublin, he struggled to keep the lights on at home because of the town’s constant power outages. He found a solution inside his electric cars: their batteries.
A tinkerer who posts videos of his hand-built vehicles on Youtube, Maguire devised a wiring system that lets him suck power out of them when they’re parked in the garage. Now that the house and cars are connected, he can also use the batteries to store energy from his backyard solar panels, another power source that’s not totally reliable given Ireland’s weather.
“You have the light-bulb moment,” said the 41-year-old electrical engineer. “There’s a big battery in the car, so how about I use that?”
An even bigger light-bulb moment is happening for utilities and automakers, who want to use the batteries inside electric cars as storage for the entire public power grid. The idea, known as “vehicle-to-grid,” is to someday have millions of drivers become mini electricity traders, charging up when rates are cheap and pumping energy back into the grid during peak hours or when the sun simply isn’t shining. If it works — and it’s a big if — renewable energy could get much cheaper and more widely used.
“We really, really need storage in order to make better use of wind and solar power, and electric cars could provide it,’’ said Daniel Brenden, an analyst who studies the electricity market at BMI Research in London. “The potential is so huge.’’
You can see where this is going and clearly we need a mindset change when it comes to grid storage and energy distribution, as well as EV car design, to harness this on a far larger scale.