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Electric vehicles could soon provide power for Ontario

 Electric vehicles could soon provide power for Ontario

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Imagine a future where electric cars help provide extra juice to power our homes and businesses.

It may seem far-fetched, but the so-called vehicle-to-grid concept is already undergoing trials by electric utilities in the Netherlands and the U.S.

It’s an idea that is being investigated by OPG as electric vehicles (EVs) begin to populate Ontario’s driveways.

An electric vehicle plugged in to charge.
Electric vehicle batteries can help balance power supply and demand.

​“Every EV has a battery in it, and each of those batteries could potentially serve the power grid,” said Keegan Tully, Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives at OPG. “We’re looking at what we can do when these batteries are sitting idle or charging. Is there an opportunity to use the batteries to perform different services?”

Such a system would see plug-in EVs aggregated into a significant resource that could sell services to Ontario’s power grid by either returning electricity to the grid or by managing the vehicle’s charging rate.

Vehicle-to-grid systems could create value for the EV owner, who may receive financial incentives for allowing their battery to be used, while generators like OPG can utilize the electricity stored in EV batteries to help balance power supply and demand.

“EVs would interact with the grid to help manage the demand of other charging EVs and other system loads,” Tully said. “If the demand is managed well, this could be a source of clean energy in the near term.”

As Tully explains it, EV owners could have full control over when their car will serve the grid and when it will draw power to charge the battery. The technology already exists to allow for bi-directional flows in EV batteries, but not all automakers are on board yet, Tully said. That could change as EVs become more pervasive in North American cities.

While it’s still early days, EVs could eventually represent a huge, new source of electricity demand. Ultimately, integrating these vehicles into the grid could create commercial opportunities benefiting both EV owners and electricity customers. It’s all part of OPG’s broader electrification strategy being led by the company’s Environment team.