To make renewables work well our smart energy future is going to require lots and lots of battery storage, because if the wind's not blowing and the sun's not shining, where else will all the electrons come from? The Electric Vehicle can become the cornerstone - a massive distributed battery storage network!
Conventional wisdom thinks of EVs in terms of:
- how many miles per charge,
- time to charge,
- where are the charge points going to be (and who's going to pay for 'em)
- ...and the list goes on
We also consider EVs to be like-for-like replacements for our current gas vehicles - this is comparing peaches to lemons.
In the future, as people switch away from driving in exchange for more sustainable transportation (i.e. public transport, bikes and motorbikes), cars will be left to "rest" in garages and on the street. If these cars are Electric Vehicles that's a lot of untapped energy potential!
Each EV has its own internal battery; a fleet of EVs can form a massive mobile battery storage network. Just plug your EV into an available outlet - I've got at least 50 of them in my small home - to connect it to the grid. As an EV owner you will be able to offer your electron storage facility to your local energy community in an electron "swap and share" program. You may even be able to profit from selling your stored energy back into the grid at peak times.
Our cars will be able to power our evening activities and can provide spare capacity for people who may need a certain amount of energy for an upcoming trip. It's like asking your neighbor to borrow a few buckets of electrons so you can pop down to the shops for the weekly grocery trip. This is the sustainable energy "missing link," the solution to our energy storage problem.
Eventually solutions applications and technology will be developed that will make this a reality, and allow for seamless management of our energy on an increasing community basis.
Things will be very different in time, and it's going to be amazing to watch our smart energy future evolve.