If you think of the family car as a machine that simply consumes power, think again!
Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand (MMNZ) has set out to trial vehicle-to-house power as they feel the technology for electric vehicles to provide power for our homes is just around the corner.
In June, MMNZ became the first organisation in New Zealand to install and operate a vehicle-to-house unit, which allows electricity stored in an EV’s battery to be supplied into a building’s power network.
The company had previously installed solar arrays on the roof of its headquarters at Todd Park, Porirua to charge its fleet of plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs).
By installing a Wallbox Quasar vehicle-to-house module, MMNZ can now use the solar-generated charge stored in the PHEV batteries to power the electric hoists in its parts operation and other electrical appliances in the business.
MMNZ’s technical services manager Lloyd Robinson says the company has been keeping a close eye on the development of this cutting-edge technology for some time and, as the country’s largest seller of new PHEVs, it has been encouraging its Japanese parent Mitsubishi Motors Corporation to fast-track vehicle-to-house technology in its cars.
“We have been aware that vehicle-to-house modules would eventually land here and so have been able to ensure that all of our current generation Outlander and Eclipse Cross PHEVs, and our previous generation Outlander PHEVs, with CHAdeMO DC fast charge connections are vehicle-to-house ready,” said Robinson.
While still in its infancy for New Zealand, the technology has the potential to provide stored energy resilience both the power grid, by helping to buffer peak demand, and in circumstances where properties may either lose connection to the grid or are permanently off the grid and have alternative sources of power generation (such as solar) to recharge the batteries.
Depending on the model, a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV battery has a total power capacity of up to 20kWh, which is about the daily power consumption of an average Kiwi household with two adults and two children.
“Vehicle-to-house [technology] is a really exciting development,” said Robinson.
“And, while there are still some regulatory considerations to be worked through, I think we’ll start to see consumers looking at their cars in a whole new way.”
Currently, the vehicle-to-house modules can only be connected to properties with 3-phase power networks and can only be active during normal operation of the power grid.
“The system can’t currently be used during a power outage because there is no fool proof way to ensure the power from the battery doesn’t flow back into the grid and place electrical workers in danger,” said Robinson.
“However, those types of hurdles will be overcome as uptake of the technology grows.
“The units themselves are also quite expensive – again, this will change as demand grows,” he added.
In the meantime, late model Mitsubishi PHEV owners who have properties or businesses with 3-phase power and who charge their vehicles on night rates or via an alternative generation source, can now store that cheap power in their vehicle’s battery and pass it back into their premises’ when electricity prices are higher.