The vehicle-to-grid vision: unleashing the power of electric vehicles

2017-04-14 00:00

Enabled by semiconductor technology, vehicle-to-grid (V2G) bidirectional charging can provide battery power to reinforce electric grids during peak demand and power your home when electricity is expensive or out

23 AUG 2022

Our wide-bandgap power, sensing and connectivity technologies enable engineers to make V2G energy storage a reality, contributing to more sustainable, efficient and affordable energy management

Aging electric grids face unprecedented demand around the world and the strain may only grow with vehicle electrification. But what if electric vehicles (EVs) could ease the burden by returning power to the grid?

The concept — known as vehicle-to-grid, or V2G — envisions fleets of EVs providing battery power to reinforce electric grids, particularly during peak demand. The vision is gaining traction as new charging and battery-storage solutions emerge and proven technologies are redeployed.


Learn more about how our technologies enable V2G bidirectional charging.  

It is also driven by environmental goals as countries strive to reduce emissions and increase renewable energy sources. While vehicle electrification is part of that journey, managing the power demands of millions of EV owners will be a challenge. The energy required to drive the average EV 100 miles is about the same amount needed to power the average home each day. If everyone charges up at the same time, grids could face serious stress.

“The problem is not the overall capacity of the grid," said Henrik Mannesson, our company’s general manager for grid infrastructure. "It is the peak capacity of the grid that is the challenge. We all know these peaks are getting higher and coming more often as we grow more reliant on power. Extreme weather events add more strain on the grid. With semiconductor technology, V2G bidirectional charging could smooth out these peaks, which would benefit us all."

Semiconductor technologies that enable bidirectional charging can turn EVs and their batteries into energy storage systems that can return power to the grid when required. Wide-bandgap power management, sensing and connectivity technologies can ensure a more reliable, smarter and safer grid by optimizing power load management, potentially paving the way for the expansion of renewable energy sources.

GaN enables faster, more energy-efficient charging

One of the building blocks for creating more efficient V2G solutions is wide-bandgap technology like gallium nitride (GaN). GaN effectively triples the power density — the amount of power managed in a given form factor — of the power supply or power management system in applications such as on-board chargers in EVs, EV charging stations and energy storage systems, compared to traditional silicon devices. That translates into designs with faster charging, reduced system size and lower cost of ownership.

"GaN helps engineers achieve triple the power density of conventional transistors and significantly reduces the size and cost of applications like DC wallboxes,” said David Snook, a manager for GaN products at our company. "Size and weight reduction are the exciting things about GaN for these applications."

Smaller and lighter charging stations enable more flexibility, allowing grid operators to roll them out to more places more easily. And more portable systems, such as DC wallboxes, also mean more convenience at home for EV owners to recharge or power their home when needed.

Current sensing technology brings energy savings

Sensing technology is also key in the pursuit of efficiency when moving energy between EVs and the grid. To implement the voltage and current control loops in power conversion systems, microcontrollers need isolated, fast and accurate voltage and current readings. Our isolated amplifier and analog-to-digital converter (ADC) portfolios work with small current shunt resistors to lower power dissipation and enable high resolution measurements, allowing accurate control when power is returned to the grid.

“Accurate current sensing enables us to turn energy storage in batteries into AC (alternating current) that the grid can use," said Navin Kommaraju, who manages our isolated ADC and amplifier