Polestar Is Betting on This Bi-Directional Charging Tech

diagram, engineering drawing
Polestar Is Betting on This Charging TechnologyPolestar
  • Polestar plans to test vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging in Sweden, in cooperation with local utilities, using Polestar 3 models.

  • The EV maker is hoping fleets of EVs will be part of a power ecosystem in the future that will allow them to use their batteries to automatically store and dispense power, in connection to the grid, based on grid needs, with owners monetizing the batteries in their EVs in this manner.

  • Polestar plans a similar V2G pilot project in California, in collaboration with the California Energy Commission.

Vehicle-to-grid charging has long been seen as one of the next steps in the evolution of smart homes, allowing EVs to transfer power back to the grid when it is advantageous to do so, and to charge during off-peak hours. But until recently, there haven't been enough compatible EVs with bi-directional charging to attempt such a project at scale.

Now, Polestar is undertaking a large-scale vehicle-to-grid (V2G) project in Sweden that will connect a sizable fleet of Polestar 3 SUVs, allowing them to serve as a Virtual Power Plant (VPP).

The project is aimed at allowing owners to monetize their EVs while they're parked at home, all done automatically without any management on the part of owners, with a cloud based VPP calculating the collective capacity of all the connected batteries and performing charging or discharging based on demand.

"Vehicle-to-grid has the potential to not only benefit individual customers, but whole communities. The average car is parked 90% of the time," said Thomas Ingenlath, Polestar CEO.

Polestar paints the process as completely free of intervention from owners. All they'll need to do is plug in their EV at home, and let the VPP manage the rest. At least in theory.

Polestar will undertake this pilot project along with Swedish National Grid authority Svenska kraftnät, regional energy distributor Vattenfall Eldistribution, Chalmers University of Technology, home charging provider Easee, and with local grid owner Göteborg Energi Nät. So quite a few partners are needed to make this work even on an experimental scale.

A similar project is planned for California, where Polestar will collaborate with non-profit energy R&D institute EPRI and the California Energy Commission.

"With the bi-directional charging capabilities of Polestar 3 and the Polestar VPP, we can explore business models and community solutions that can unlock the true potential of V2G and enable owners to support the energy transition when they don’t need their car for driving," Ingenlath added.

However, it's still too early in most countries to get ready for thousands of EVs providing power back to the grid when advantageous. In the present day, bi-directional charging is far more useful for V2H (vehicle-to-home), V2L (vehicle-to-load), and V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) charging.

V2G charging, on the other hand, requires collaboration from all stakeholders of an energy grid, as well as some infrastructure investments. In addition, most EV owners have been more interested in getting power from the grid into their EVs—not the other way around. Consumers will only sign on for something like this if they are assured to have more juice in their EVs in the morning than when they parked them the previous night.

Natural market forces also have to play some role in the investment into V2G technology, as this can't be another case of something you only see in science-fiction films that seems neat, but may not be all that economical.

EV owners also have to be on board, to some degree, with subjecting their vehicles to constant charge and discharge cycles in the name of some savings. As we know, EV battery lifespans are quite finite.

Will we see home energy storage become commonplace in the second half of this decade in households with EVs, or will this process take longer? Let us know what you think in the comments.