Electric Vehicles as Energy Storage

How electric vehicles can help keep the lights on without fossil fuels

Electric vehicle charging. Photo by Kārlis Dambrāns / Creative Commons.

By 2035, all new passenger vehicles purchased in California will be electric. Transitioning away from gas-powered vehicles will not only reduce climate and air pollution, it will also unlock a new opportunity to improve the resilience of the state’s electrical grid. 

Electric cars, trucks, and buses are an untapped asset for reliable energy. Vehicle-grid integration technologies can be used to power homes and businesses by using the batteries in electric vehicles when the grid goes down. These mobile energy sources can also be moved where they’re needed most during power outages, like backing up medical centers, fire stations and food stores. For example, electric school buses that charge during the day — and hardly operate at all during the summer — could be deployed as a fleet of batteries on wheels in communities across California.

California’s EV fleet — and its battery capacity — is growing rapidly. According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California is expected to be home to 5 million electric vehicles by 2030. 

The Climate Center advocates for regulatory structures that incentivize the use of electric vehicles as resilience and grid assets. As technology improves, costs come down, and gas-powered vehicles are phased out, electric vehicles will become a cornerstone of the grid for the future.