Smart energy: EVs power Japan’s grid

EV car charging and impact on US grid
According to IHS, the global EV charger market is forecast to grow from more than 1m units in 2014 to more than 12.7m units in 2020

In Asia, Japanese automakers are seeking to broaden the appeal of the CHAdeMO battery electric vehicles standard by sending electricity from vehicles back to the grid.

CHAdeMO is the trade name of a quick charging method for battery electric vehicles delivering up to 62.5 kW of high-voltage direct current via a special electrical connector. CHAdeMO is the de facto standard for EV charging in Japan.

The group of automakers, suppliers and power companies that developed the standard in 2010 are building a case for making cars a viable energy source for buildings, external batteries and appliances.

“I think that’s how CHAdeMO can expand,” said Toshiyuki Shiga, CHAdeMO Association president and vice president of Nissan, maker of the Leaf electric vehicle.

“Now we are talking about vehicle to home. It is not only a charging system, but CHAdeMO can also be a discharging system.”

Fierce competition

The CHAdeMO standard has been in use since its inception in 2010 and has been employed by numerous countries around the world. There are some 8,760 CHAdeMO chargers in use worldwide and 5,400 in Japan. This has risen from just 1,400 units globally in 2012. In the US, there were 1,238 CHAdeMo chargers in use at the end of May.

There has been increasing competition to the widely adopted standard, with a Japanese sect opting for a ‘home-grown’ system, and further afield – Germany and the US pushing a Combined Charging System which requires just one single charging inlet in the vehicle that can be used for all available charging methods.

CHAdeMo EVs aren’t compatible with the Combined Charging System and vice versa.

Advocates of the CHAdeMo standard hope that making it more compatible with vehicle-to-infrastructure charging – will put CHAdeMo ahead of its rivals as the preferred standard.

To this end, CHAdeMO has partnered up with the Electric Vehicle Power Supply System Association – which promotes the use of vehicle-to-infrastructure charging equipment and includes companies such as Panasonic, Toshiba, Hitachi and Unisys.

Despite these efforts, there is skepticism around the longevity of the CHAdeMO standard. Supporting this notion, Ben Scott, senior analysy at IHS said: “This will change over the short to mid-term, as more vehicles with the CCS [Combined Charging System] standard enter the vehicle parc [density – vehicles per square kilometre]”.

Scott describes countries in Europe, supporting the Combined Charging System as the ‘sleeping giants’ of e-mobility.

“There will gradually be a more even split,” he noted.