Meet the Little-Known Inventor of Vehicle-to-Grid Tech. It is Not a Mere Fad
Under the radar, Willett Kempton is one of the most-cited researchers in EVs
Until the middle of the decade, electric vehicles will cost more on average than combustion. So to attract buyers beyond first-movers, automakers have resorted to sales gimmicks. Among them has been this notional argument: If you have the right technology, you can earn extra dollars by selling the charge in your battery back to the grid. This idea, which goes by the nickname vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, is often touted by EV evangelists who cleverly point out that people’s cars just sit around in driveways and parking lots most of the time.
The result has not been a stampede to showrooms, as most ordinary motorists hold off for big, promised sticker price drops in the middle of the decade when battery technology improves. The theory of a collective fortune to be earned by vehicle-owners, all hooked up to a hungry grid while they obliviously work or sleep, has seemed to just sit there in the annals of hifalutin hypotheses.
Yet it turns out that V2G is no faddish notion, but a term going back to a paper about a quarter century ago. Its inventor, a little-known University of Delaware professor named Willett Kempton, is armed with a fistful of patents for his idea. And Nuvve, a company he co-founded that went public in a Spac in March, saw its share price soar as much as 56% yesterday before ending the day up 30.9%.
Nuvve is part of a groundswell of businesses seeking to prod EVs into the mainstream by seizing on one of their main sticking points — how to quickly charge up. In a niche play, Nuvve’s strategy is to go after public and school bus fleets by offering attractive financing terms. To that end, Nuvve yesterday announced a $750 million tie-up with Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, a New York-based private equity firm. With most municipalities and school districts strapped for cash but increasingly pushed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Nuvve offers a more or less turnkey package in which it finances the cost of a charging hub, including V2G technology. The municipality or school district pays out what it normally would if it were running diesel buses, and through the V2G can defray the cost of…