Emanuella Wallin, Polestar. Foto: Polestar

eMove360° Women-In-Tech-Interview: Emanuella Wallin, project manager at Polestar for V2G

In the eMove360° Women in Tech series, we introduce inspiring women who have gained a foothold in the automotive industry. For the March issue of eMove360° magazine in german language, editor-in-chief Sabine Metzger spoke to Emanuella Wallin, project manager for V2G at Polestar, about the vehicle-to-grid projects initiated by Polestar and how a virtual power plant could support the energy transition.

Ms. Wallin, to start off our Women in Tech interview, a few words about yourself. Could you briefly outline your professional career? How did you get into the automotive industry?

Emanuella Wallin: Polestar piqued my interest with its stunning cars, its commitment to innovation and its status as a startup. Before joining Polestar, my career was mainly focused on short projects in the automotive industry. Throughout my career, I have focused on software and new technologies, covering various industries such as energy, telecommunications, hygiene and contract analytics. I started as a software developer and then became the lead product manager of a machine learning and analytics team before finding my place at Polestar. Given the automotive industry’s increasing reliance on software and cutting-edge technologies, my previous experience fit seamlessly with the requirements of my current role at Polestar.

When did you join the Polestar team? What are your core responsibilities as project manager for V2G?

Wallin: I am now approaching my third year at Polestar as a member of the dynamic Charging and Energy team. I play a crucial role in managing various projects that require both technical knowledge and a strategic vision for commercialization. From overseeing technical tasks to promoting business related initiatives. The team is instrumental in the development of the vehicle’s components and software, as well as cloud-based software services, all focused on developing innovative products. These innovative offerings, which include advances in charging efficiency and seamless experiences as well as smart and eco-friendly solutions, are designed to meet the changing needs of our stakeholders and customers. In addition to the internal Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) projects, I lead our engagement in external initiatives on a global scale. I have recently received approval for two projects that are externally funded by Vinnova. The first is a large-scale pilot project in Gothenburg and the second is a collaboration with EPRI and CEC to develop a V2G roadmap in California.

How do you assess the potential of V2G technology and how can it support a transformation of the energy infrastructure?

Wallin: With vehicle-to-grid technology, electric cars can not only be charged with electricity from the grid, but also feed electricity back into the grid when required. In addition, electric vehicles can be used as decentralized buffer storage units that temporarily store surplus electricity and make it available again when needed. If the demand for electricity is low and the electricity price is low, the vehicle can be recharged. In times of high electricity demand, the electricity grid can be relieved by taking the temporarily stored electricity from electric vehicles. This is good for the wallet and good for the environment. Used on a large scale, V2G technology offers great potential to support the electrification of society and the transition to more renewable energies.

How can an entire fleet of electric vehicles be used as a flexible energy source in the energy market? Previous approaches have focused on a single homeowner.

Wallin: Since a single electric vehicle is too small a resource to participate directly in various energy and flexibility service markets, an aggregator is needed to connect multiple resources and provide a larger bid. We are developing a virtual power plant (VPP) that connects all participating Polestar 3 vehicles to the grid as a single unit. The cloud-based VPP calculates the total capacity of the connected batteries and initiates charging or discharging based on grid demand and battery life optimization. The available capacity or stored energy of the entire fleet can then be sold on the energy market and support the grid.

Can you already estimate how many electric vehicle owners would have to participate in a V2G program in order to meet the energy storage demand by 2030? Is it even possible to break this down for individual countries and cities or even worldwide?

Wallin: To provide a comprehensive answer here, a detailed analysis would be required that takes into account the specific characteristics of each region, the pace of electric vehicle adoption and the evolving energy landscape. To determine the number of electric vehicle owners needed to meet the demand for energy storage through V2G programs by 2030, one needs to know the size of vehicle batteries, the charging infrastructure and the specific energy needs of each region, as well as the regulatory bodies in place. All of this can be broken down to individual countries and cities, but with so many different factors at play, this is a very complex task. However, we can look at current examples: If one million vehicles each supply 10 kWh (about 10-20% of the battery), this can feed about 10 GW into the grid in one hour, which is more than a third of the maximum electricity demand we normally have, even on the coldest winter day in Sweden.

Selling electricity back into the energy grid can help finance your own car. This means that V2G could also reduce the costs of running an electric vehicle. How high do you estimate this amount to be?

Wallin: That’s right. By participating in the grid services, electric cars could become a source of income instead of standing around unused when they are not needed. Our pilot project aims to explore possible business models for V2G in order to find a model that benefits all parties, including the owners of electric cars. In order to estimate how much revenue could be generated, several variables need to be taken into account, such as the level of electricity prices, the length of time the electric car is on the grid and driving behavior. In short, it is still too early to give precise figures for revenue or cost savings, but the search for incentives for electric car owners is a priority.

In order to be able to determine the demand of the overall system at any given time, the charging stations for V2G would have to be equipped with software that communicates with the central power grid. What are the challenges here?

Wallin: The challenges relate to communication protocols and standards, data security, demand forecasts, regulatory framework conditions and infrastructure investments. On the one hand, not all the necessary communication protocols and standards have been developed yet. However, to ensure broad acceptance, interoperability is important, which means that the correct data to be exchanged between systems must be defined in a standardized way. As this is sensitive information about energy supply and demand, the data must be protected by robust cyber security measures. On the other hand, accurate forecasts of energy demand in real time are important for grid stability – this is a prerequisite for participation in the flexibility market. It is also important to create a legal framework that supports the integration of V2G.

When do you expect vehicles to be equipped with bidirectional charging options across the board?

Wallin: Many players are currently announcing V2G pilot projects. However, in view of the challenges, I assume that it will take several years before V2G with interoperable standards becomes more widespread. There is a possibility of earlier market entry for vehicle-to-home (V2H) technology. Although V2H technology shares technical aspects with V2G, V2H could catch on faster as it eliminates some of the additional technical complexities associated with participating in the grid.

Looking to the future: Where will the automotive industry go in the next 20 years?

Wallin: We will see more changes in the next twenty years than ever before. Unlike in the past, this change will not be gradual, but radical. The biggest challenge is to shape the transition to sustainable mobility. Electric cars are part of this sustainable mobility, but electric cars are not yet green per se. Electric cars are only truly environmentally friendly if they are powered by renewable electricity and if we succeed in decarbonizing the entire value chain. This is probably the biggest challenge of our time. V2G is an important building block in supporting the transition to renewable energies. In terms of production, we have set ourselves the ambitious goal of developing a truly climate-neutral car by 2030 with the Polestar 0 project – without taking misleading compensation measures such as planting trees. With these initiatives, we also want to raise awareness of the need to act now. The entire automotive industry is called upon to move towards zero.

Finally, a personal question: How do you recharge your own batteries?

Wallin: I recharge my batteries by spending time with family and friends and being out in nature. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, whether it’s raining or the sun is shining, I go jogging in the countryside. It’s my reliable ritual to recharge my batteries by observing the constant change of seasons and embracing the elements, be it snow, rain or sunshine.

Thank you for the interview.

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14.03.2024   |  

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