Research Projects

Vehicle-to-Grid Microgrid at Airports In Reserve

As electric vehicles reach the consumer mainstream and decarbonization moves energy loads from natural gas to electricity, airports will be under increasing pressure to upgrade their electrical capacity. This research paper would explore the potential use of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology as a local microgrid, offsetting peak electrical demand and providing increased levels of electrical system redundancy.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

As cities, states, and countries phase out the sale of internal combustion vehicles, electric vehicles (EVs) and their charging infrastructure will rapidly become common fixtures on airport parking lots. Simultaneously, concerns about carbon emissions and local pollutants will lead to the phase-out of natural gas-fired heating and cooking systems. These two trends have the potential to increase electrical loads by an order of magnitude. Finally, the effects of climate change may lead to more frequent severe weather events which may make the electrical transmission grid less reliable.

While EV charging at airports introduces an electrical capacity problem, it also contains the seeds of a solution. With vehicle to grid (V2G) technology, each EV's battery can be both a source and a sink of electrical demand. With major airports containing tens of thousands of parking stalls, average parking durations of days rather than hours, and the ability to know with a high degree of certainty when a vehicle will leave the parking facility, airports are uniquely situated to take advantage of V2G technology to offset peak demand and provide greater redundancy in the event of grid outages.

This research paper would investigate the feasibility, costs, and benefits of large-scale V2G adoption at airports. It would provide airports with a written report as well as an Excel-based tool, using inputs including EV parking stall count, utilization rate, V2G participation rate, parking duration by facility type (short-term, long-term), and electrical load profiles.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The research paper and accompanying Excel modelling tool would provide decision-makers with a framework for evaluating the feasibility of implementing a V2G microgrid at their airports, using their own airport-specific data.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

Researchers would conduct a literature review of V2G, microgrids, and vehicle electrification to develop the background from which the study would proceed. While this information will be key to understanding feasibility, it should be assumed that policy barriers can be overcome given a compelling business and environmental case.

Researchers would solicit real operational data (see above) from small, medium, and large hub airports with varying amounts of on-site parking and use those data to evaluate the feasibility of using V2G to reduce or offset electrical demand increases, and/or to provide additional redundancy separate from the regional electrical grid. The feasibility study would also compare the V2G option with other options, including advanced electrical load management systems, dedicated batteries, and regional electrical capacity upgrades.

The framework would evaluate V2G feasibility from the perspective of both the airport and the parking customer. Specifically, the framework should evaluate the cost of additional wear cycles on EV batteries and potentially include pricing strategies which could partially or wholly offset the cost of battery wear (e.g., "Free charging if you allow V2G").

As part of the framework development, researchers would develop an Excel-based modeling tool (see above) to allow individual airports to use their own data to evaluate their own potential V2G microgrids.

Idea No. 630