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Battery technology – more positive than negative
Put simply, although technology has got better, batteries have not. Thankfully, new innovations in battery technology are starting to make a difference.
Despite there now being more than a million electric cars in Europe, progress is still slow. Plug-in vehicles only account for 2% of all new car and van registrations across Europe. Charging the battery remains a key issue – there aren’t enough charging ports and any surges in electricity demand could unbalance the grid.
To help solve this problem, Hitachi, Mitsubishi Motors and ENGIE have developed a “bi-directional electric vehicle charger”. Unlike a traditional charger, the bi-directional technology can draw electricity out of vehicles, as well as put it in.
Why is that important? A bi-directional charger solves the issue of availability and balancing. A trial in Zaandam, The Netherlands, proved the benefit by connecting a car to ENGIE’s office energy supply. When the building generated more solar power than it needed, the excess energy was stored in the battery of the electric car and later discharged back if appropriate. This back and forth of electricity means the battery can act as an energy storage source for the building, helping to reduce the peak energy cost, and the driver leaves the office with a fully charged car. In an emergency, the car could also act as a back-up energy source.