Bidirectional charging of electric cars: the key to making the energy system more flexible

March 16, 2022|Berlin, Munich

New cross-sector initiative issues position paper outlining demands on policymakers to fully exploit the technology’s ecological and economic potential.

2022-03-16_PM_Initiative-Bidirektionales-Laden (c) conenergy AG.jpg

The “Bidirectional Charging Initiative” launched in fall 2021 is presenting itself to the public today with a position paper to promote the technology. The initiative is an alliance of companies from the automotive, energy and charging infrastructure sectors, accompanied by a parking company, a software specialist and two consulting firms. “Our aim is to establish bidirectional charging as an important and decisive building block of the energy and transport transition in politics and society, and then to implement it commercially,” explained Marcus Fendt, Managing Director of The Mobility House.

The bidirectional charging technology is a new, promising and decentralized approach that allows EV batteries to be both charged and discharged. This turns them into relevant and flexible storage capacity for the power grid, which will have greater demand for flexible storage as the energy transition progresses, with a view to meeting the needs of sectors such as electricity, heat and mobility, all the while maintaining grid stability.

The German Federal Government is currently projecting that there will be at least 15 million fully electric cars on Germany’s roads by 2030. This harbors immense potential for bidirectional charging. If we harness the capacity of these mobile storage facilities, this wouldn’t just be a key contribution to power grid stability; we could also use it to further advance the energy transition and therefore the decarbonization of both economy and society,” remarked Ralf Klöpfer, Member of the MVV Energie AG Board of Directors and one of the co-founders of the initiative. The technology is at an advanced stage of development, added Martin Roemheld of Volkswagen subsidiary elli, which is also involved in the initiative. However, he also commented that: “The regulatory framework is still inadequate to make bidirectional charging interesting for all the stakeholders too.

The initiative launched is aiming to close this gap. The 17 members in total want to lobby for the advancement of the regulatory framework necessary for bidirectional charging in a targeted manner to make it economically interesting for companies and consumers alike. In addition to existing positive momentum from European and German federal policy, the position paper published today presents specific steps for the market launch of bidirectional charging:

  1. Creating a concrete, uniform legal definition as a prerequisite for technical and energy industry developments.
  2. Establishing a special, temporary support program for bidirectional charging infrastructure to prevent further lock-in effects by exclusively supporting a unidirectional charging infrastructure and to quickly create competitive conditions on the market.
  3. Further developing control of consumer devices and flexibility procurement in the distribution network.
  4. Reducing the minimum bid size in the control energy market from 5 MW to 1 MW to reduce entry barriers for mobile storage.
  5. Providing an exemption from ancillary electricity costs for mobile storage systems by putting them on an equal footing with stationary storage systems to prevent the threat of double taxation of electric vehicles used as storage systems.
  6. Expanding the communications infrastructure through speeding up smart meter rollout in a targeted manner by providing incentives for voluntary installation of smart meters.
  7. Increasing the economic incentive for grid operators by taking into account the grid-friendly flexibility usage of (mobile) storage systems, the digitalization of grid technology and the associated operating costs in incentive regulation.

Details of the demands can be read in detail in the “Bidirectional Charging” Initiative’s current position paper. The paper is available here (available in German only).