Vehicle-to-grid power fundamentals. The aspects of measuring costs, potential benefits and socio-technical barriers for sustainable improvement of the transport sector in Nordic countries

Scientific Study, 2016

10 Pages, Grade: A


Vehicle-to-grid power fundamentals: measuring costs, potential benefits and socio-technical barriers for sustainable improvement of transport sector in Nordic countries.


Electric power vehicles are exceptionally complementary as systems for managing energy and power. Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland) have been considered as one of the frontrunners for electrification in their transport sector. So, this study is to investigate the current concerns of costs, potential benefits and socio-technical challenges of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) transition for sustainable improvement in Scandinavian transport sector. Literature review section presents a clear understanding of previous researches around this topic. However, very few researches have been conducted in Scandinavia around this issue. This study intends to adopt qualitative method with a multi criteria analysis. According to the expected result of this study, Electric Vehicles (EV) and V2G contribute to the national energy systems, which allow integration of much higher levels of wind electricity and also greatly reduces national CO2 emissions.

Keywords: Electric vehicles, vehicle-to-grid power, V2G alternative fuels in transport, socio-technical systems, transportation policy, sustainable energy, infrastructure investments.

Introduction & Background

Various previous studies show that transition to vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology has much to offer to society (Gass, Schmidt, & Schmid, 2014; Kley, Lerch, & Dallinger, 2011; Siskos & Capros, 2015; Sovacool & Hirsh, 2009; Zhou, Qian, Allan, & Zhou, 2011). Researchers further added that reducing petroleum use would help insulate oil importing economies from petroleum price spikes and shocks to the global market. It would also greatly improve the quality of the environment, displacing noxious emissions and the health, ecological, and climate-changed damages (Anandarajah, McDowall, & Ekins, 2013; Neubauer & Wood, 2014).

Five Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland) are considered as pioneers in the world for renewable energy system (Meibom, Weber, Barth, & Brand, 2009). Various studies about Scandinavian transportation and energy system presented that V2G technology offers the motorists potential cost savings from their use of electricity as a fuel instead of gasoline (Andersson et al., 2010; Ingvar & Persson, 2010; Lund & Kempton, 2008; Su, Eichi, Zeng, & Chow, 2012). It is farther explained that, technological alternatives and energy planes play a significant role in Scandinavia (Lund & Mathiesen, 2009; Sovacool, 2013). It is widely accepted that Nordic countries have been become frontrunner for electrification in their transport sectors (Lund & Kempton, 2008), with the growth in travel demand including climate change and oil demand at a global scale (Steinhilber, Wells, & Thankappan, 2013). Therefore, it is a major concern to assess the cost & potential benefits of sociotechnical perspective of V2G technology in these countries.

Despite the fact that ‘Alternative Fuel Vehicles’ (AFV) are often considered as a panacea by policy- makers, there are number of barriers to their widespread market penetration and diffusion (Browne, O'Mahony, & Caulfield, 2012). According to the researchers, transportation system suffers from a number of serious problems, such as CO2 emissions, congestion and accidents. Although some of these problems have been reduced in the past decades, transportation system is not considered sustainable (Farla, Alkemade, & Suurs, 2010). Increasing the sustainability in socio-technical systems such as transportation, energy and food production requires large-scale changes and system innovation. An important task for transition management is thus to address the barriers within the transition paths.

Transport sector in a country is confronted with complex decision making processes, which involve different actors with their own stake in the decisions to be made (Macharis, De Witte, & Turcksin, 2010). Several studies stated the importance of identifying the role of different actors in the field of multi-criteria decision making for the wide exploitation of sustainable energy (Awan & Khan, 2014; Mashayekh et al., 2012; Pohekar & Ramachandran, 2004).

Purpose and objective

Therefore, the purpose of this study firstly to measure costs & potential benefits for societal implications of vehicle-to-grid transition in Nordic countries. Secondly, to identify the socio-technical challenges of V2G transition in Nordic countries. Finally, this research is aiming to provide policy recommendations for transport sector of Scandinavia towards sustainability. That means, the objective of this study is to identify the key factors for enabling policy-makers to eventually design targeted strategies towards sustainable development of transport sector in all Nordic countries.

Research Question

The main questions of this study are:

=> What are the current concerns to measure costs, potential benefits and socio-technical challenges of V2G transition in Nordic countries? And how is V2G transition useful for sustainable improvement of transport sector in Nordic countries?

Therefore, in order to answer these two main questions the sub-questions are:

1) What are the expenses for implications of V2G transition in Nordic countries?
2) What are the potential benefits of implication of V2G transition in Nordic Countries?
3) What are the barriers in the transition paths toward sustainable development of transport sector in Scandinavia?
4) How can these challenges be understood and classified?
5) What are the recommendations for the policy makers to design targeted strategies towards sustainable development of transport sector in Nordic countries?
6) What are the implications for managing the transition toward sustainable mobility?

Literature Review

This section presents a critical review of relevant literatures, where the researcher analyses recent and previous empirical studies in the field. There are a number of studies found, which were conducted in the UK and Europe about V2G transition. Similar studies are referring the studies on viable transportation research, transportation and environmental sustainability. According to the above discussion, this study is about cost, potential social benefits, challenges for V2G transition and providing recommendation toward sustainable transportation in Nordic countries. Therefore, in this section of the PhD thesis, the researcher will provide concepts of the key terms based on the past studies.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) & Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)

Transport sector is responsible for roughly 27% of greenhouse gas (GHG) energy-related emissions in the EU, which is actually liable for more than half of transport related GHG emissions (Hill et al., 2012). The European Commission (EC) has taken action to significantly reduce CO2 emissions in transport (EC, 2011). The implementation of regulations by the EC (e.g. 10% renewable in transport, CO2 standards on cars) is likely to drive an increase in the use of biofuels and electricity in road transport (Daly & Ó Gallachóir, 2010). In the longer term, a number of transport policy scenarios and studies conclude that the large scale availability of alternative fuels is a prerequisite for drastically reducing CO2 emissions in transport sector (Capros, Tasios, De Vita, Mantzos, & Paroussos, 2012; Pasaoglu, Honselaar, & Thiel, 2012). Based on these studies, biofuels, electricity and hydrogen are widely considered as key alternative fuels for moving towards a low carbon sustainable transport system.

Justification for Integrating PHEVs to the concept of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) connections started in 1997 with Professor Willett Kempton (Judd & Overbye, 2008), exploring the potential economic and system potential of electric cars connected to the power grid (Cheng, Chang, Lin, & Singh, 2013; Hu, Su, Chen, & Bak-Jensen, 2013; Wu et al., 2010). Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are a new and upcoming technology in the transportation and power sector (Green, Wang, & Alam, 2011). As they are defined by the various past studies, these vehicles have a battery storage system of 4 kWh or more, a means of recharging the battery from an external source, and the ability to drive at least 10 miles in all electric mode (Bakker & Farla, 2015; Mazur, Contestabile, Offer, & Brandon, 2015; Van der Vooren & Brouillat, 2013). According to researches, these vehicles are able to run on fossil fuels, electricity, or a combination of both leading to a wide variety of advantages including reduced dependence on foreign oil, increased fuel economy, increased power efficiency, lowered greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by adopting V2G technology (Yilmaz & Krein, 2013).

Social Beneficial issues

According to previous studies, V2G offers mutual benefits to the transportation and the electric power systems (Peterson, Whitacre, & Apt, 2010; Ravichandran, Malysz, Sirouspour, & Emadi, 2013). It is able to associate by reducing petroleum use (Sovacool & Hirsh, 2009), “strengthening the economy, enhancing national security, reducing strain on petroleum infrastructure and improving the natural environment. It could help the latter by providing a new demand for electricity, ideally during the parts of the day when demand remains low” (Sovacool & Hirsh, 2009).

Consumers may profit from the use of plug-in vehicles because electricity is cheaper than gasoline for equivalent distances traveled (Axsen & Kurani, 2012; Yilmaz & Krein, 2012). In 2006, average residential electricity rates (of 7.6 cents/kWh—actually lower than the more recent national average residential price of 10.4 cents per kWh (Eia, 2007), which has been cited in several other publications (Fernandes, Frías, & Latorre, 2012; Lopez, Martin, Aguado, & De la Torre, 2013). PHEVs in a V2G configuration could provide additional revenue to owners who wish to sell power back to the grid it would cost about $1 for a PHEV to travel the same distance as a conventional car would travel using a gallon of gasoline (Letendre, Denholm, & Lilienthal, 2006; Tomić & Kempton, 2007).

Socio-technical challenges of V2G transition

Transition management activities start with making collective visions of a sustainable future, such as, for sustainable mobility (Reddy & Painuly, 2004). The penetration of alternative fuels in transport is widely acknowledged to be essential towards a sustainable low carbon future of transport system (Tseng, et al. 2005). The main market barrier for alternative fuels is the lack of the associated infrastructure development. The market barriers of new technologies and fuels are classified as economic, technological, market and institutional (Reddy & Painuly, 2004). The main barrier for investing into infrastructure development of alternative fuels is their high capital cost (Tseng, Lee, & Friley, 2005). According to the European Expert group on future transport fuels (2011), the capital cost for building a hydrogen refueling station is estimated between 0.6M€ and 1.6M€, which is between 4 and 10 times higher than an equivalent petrol and diesel filling station (Barrett, 2011). Byrne and Polonsky (2001) present the impediments to consumer adoption of alternative fuels and their impact on other related stakeholders (Raymond B & Polonsky, 2001).

According to recent studies, technology development is in an early stage for hydrogen refueling compare to three other transition paths (Gao et al., 2014; Zheng et al., 2012). Commercial vehicles are not yet available and technological barriers relate mainly with fuel cell and hydrogen storage components (Farla et al., 2010). With regard to physical infrastructural barriers it is clear that each transition path requires its own type of fuel infrastructure. The fuel infrastructural barrier can be explained from the fact that developing fuel infrastructures even in smaller experiments, requires investments (Markard, 2011). The institutional barriers involved in the four transition paths are mainly related to financial uncertainty and uncertainty about the well-to-wheel environmental performance of the technologies in question (Geels, 2011). These uncertainties are so large that entrepreneurs hesitate to take first steps (Steinhilber et al., 2013), which explains financial barriers in addition. Several other studies found public acceptability, administrative order, regulatory or legality, comparative evaluation, policy failures and unexpected outcomes as socio-technical challenges of V2G transition. The objectives of the various actors, once identified, can be translated into criteria and then given relative importance weights (Turcksin et al., 2011). This study contributes to the literature by recognizing various decision makers whose roles are critical for the uptake of alternative fuels in transport and the removal of the market barriers. This is crucial for helping policy makers to design targeted strategies for the refueling infrastructure industry, transport equipment manufacturing industry and consumers. Coordinating the various distinct, yet interrelated, markets comprising of the above different decision makers with different roles and objectives are key challenges for the removal of barriers and the successful uptake of alternative fuels in transport.



This section outlines and explains the methodology and methods, which will be employed to achieve objectives of this proposed research. This empirical research is going to adopt a qualitative approach with intent to capture attitudinal, affective and behavioral responses inherent to stakeholder experiences and reveal barriers to or enablers of V2G facility adoption.

Data collection

Primary source of data for this research will be obtained from semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders within the automotive sector (Steinhilber et al., 2013) in Nordic countries to identify the strategies. The strategies that they employ in response to government policies and their opinions on current regulations, infrastructure investments, R&D and consumer incentives. The stakeholders are expected to be the representatives of institutions in Nordic countries (Ziefle, Beul-Leusmann, Kasugai, & Schwalm, 2014). This study will select these stakeholders due to their involvement in electric cars and electricity provision as because, they are as commercial interest promoters, researchers and policy makers.

Data analysis - Multi criteria analysis

Decision making for sustainable energy requires methods that allow for the complexities of socio- economic and biophysical systems and that address uncertainties of long-term consequences (Saunders, Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2011). For this reason, following the strategies of similar previous studies, this study is going to adopt a combinations of methods. Firstly, the researcher will support the exploration of complexities and uncertainties (A Stirling, 2004; Andy Stirling, 2014) and second, will organize the information and aid decision-making (A Stirling, 2004; Andy Stirling, 2014). Multicriteria analysis (MCA) has become increasingly popular in the context of environmental decisionmaking about energy issues (Mateo, 2012).

This study would like to adopt qualitative method with a MCA, which is defined as potent Integrated Sustainability Assessment (ISA) methodology (Davis, 1999). MCA is to compare different actions or solutions according to a variety of criteria and policies (Singh, Murty, Gupta, & Dikshit, 2012). According to several past studies in the similar field, MCA is a form of Integrated Sustainability Assessment (Davis, 1999; Jefferson, 2014; Kowalski, 2012; Munday, Jones, & Lovett, 2010). According to the authors, ISA is an operational evaluation and decision support approach that is suitable for addressing complex problems and conflicting objectives in various forms of data and information. Moreover, researchers added, ISA aims to support the development of (long-term) crosssectorial policies that specifically aim at sustainable development.

Qualitative and quantitative

Research processes can be divided into two major categories namely qualitative and quantitative (Saunders, Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2011). Qualitative methods are those methods used in analyzing qualitative data. It is more likely to look into people’s in-depth feelings, for example, attitude (Miller & Kirk, 1986), unlike quantitative research, which uses ad hoc procedures to define and measure variables (Seale, 1999), qualitative research tends to focus on describing the process of how we define and measure variables in everyday life (Silverman, 2000). On the other hand, quantitative processes are those, which are used for deductive analysis. Moreover, qualitative researches find precise results of the studies with ‘who’ or ‘what’ research questions (Savin-Baden & Major, 2013). Qualitative methods are more commonly used for inductive purposes to identify concepts and interpretations from transport users' perspective (Gardner & Abraham, 2007; Mann & Abraham, 2006).

Expected Results

This study is expecting linear results to the previous researches in the similar field. According to the expected result of this study, EVs and V2G technology contribute to the national energy systems, which allow for integration of a much higher levels of wind electricity, and also greatly reduces national CO2 emissions. The research is expecting to provide a number of concrete recommendations to the policy makers of transportation sector in Scandinavia. Such as; (i) develop a transition strategy and engage in scenario planning on a cooperative basis with industry stakeholders, ii) identify potential ‘lead adopters’ and develop a strategy for strategic niche management, (iii) develop stakeholder partnerships with industry and consumer groups, (iv) promote the adoption of a new socio technological regime through awareness campaigns and education programs, (v) change the taxation structure by taxing negative externalities and (vi) ensure a consistent mix of policy and regulatory signals, which offer long-term certainty.


Sustainability in European transport sector is certainly a challenge, in fact it is a challenge in all over the world. Substituting conventional fossil fuels with alternative fuels like electricity, biofuels and hydrogen can contribute towards this challenging objective. Restructuring of infrastructure involves complex decision making processes with different actors with their own perspectives.


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Vehicle-to-grid power fundamentals. The aspects of measuring costs, potential benefits and socio-technical barriers for sustainable improvement of the transport sector in Nordic countries
Aalborg University
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Electric vehicles, vehicle-to-grid power, V2G, alternative fuels in transport, socio-technical systems, transportation policy, sustainable energy
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Jobaire Alam (Author), 2016, Vehicle-to-grid power fundamentals. The aspects of measuring costs, potential benefits and socio-technical barriers for sustainable improvement of the transport sector in Nordic countries, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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