Volkswagen has confirmed that from next year all electric cars built on its next generation MEB platform will support bidirectional charging, giving a significant boost to vehicle-to-grid technologies.

It brings closer a major potential secondary benefit from electric vehicles in which cars become mobile energy storage units and put power they don’t need back into the grid. In effect the car fleet could be used to balance loads on the grid and reduce the need for peak power generation.

Electric utilities have proposed various new business models in which EV owners would be compensated by the electric utility for the use of their battery pack.

“The test vehicles are running, we are in the last pulls with the preparations,” confirms VW Development Board Member Thomas Ulbrich in a recent interview with German business newspaper Handelsblatt.

As Handelsblatt notes, Germany wastes as much as 6,500 gigawatt-hours a year, or one per cent of Germany’s annual consumption – largely this is renewable power generated on windy days by its turbines in the North and Baltic Seas but lost due to insufficient storage capacity.

VW calculates that if there were 2.7 million battery-electric cars with bidirectional capabilities they could absorb this energy and release it to the grid when the supply is low. In this way, electric cars would help network operators better manage fluctuations in the supply of green electricity.

The big problem to date is not many EVs support bi-directional charging. VW’s MEB platform, which is used on sister brands Audi, Skoda and Seat, collectively could deliver as many as 300,000 cars with vehicle to grid capability during 2022.