NextEnergy recently produced an event called the V2B Mashup, which featured speakers from both the building, and automotive markets discussing the connection between vehicles and buildings. The event showed that internet of things (IoT, or as I like to think of it: the onslaught of connected stuff), is opening up new opportunities to have vehicles, buildings and the electrical grid to interact. Three key trends came through from the event that have significant implications for the vehicle-to-building (V2B) market, including:
1. The challenge of identifying the value proposition for building owners and vehicle OEMs
2. A lack of standards or proprietary standards
3. The technology is for the most part market ready – if the business case can be made.
The challenges, however, seem likely to impact the building side of the V2B equation more heavily than the vehicle side. Inherently, the standards for vehicles are going to be limited. Vehicles are already connected through cellular connections and government regulators may push dedicated short range communication (DSRC) for safety, providing another potential path to the cloud. On the building side, the connection between sensors and building network systems has a number of different standards. While the vehicles may become another node in that network, it’s not entirely clear the path that connection will take and what data will be exchanged (beyond a Boolean, I’m here/not here).
Both the cost and the revenue generated from V2B also seem to be more heavily impacting the building side. Developing a business case for building owners will have to account for how costs of new wireless radios, software, and other infrastructure is going to be recovered. Vehicle OEMs are eagerly anticipating the ability to cash in on the potential connection through new on-vehicle hardware or service sales, but the costs for infrastructure are so far keeping building owners questioning the value to them.
During the sessions, I noted that several of the building participants were more likely to speak of community benefits and smart city systems. My interpretation of this is that because this market is still so nascent, building owners are expecting smart city systems to push the connected car market. The direct benefit for building owners is part of the secondary market after a sufficient threshold of connected vehicles are on the road. For the building owner, smart city systems can provide a potential proof of market right in their own backyard without having a direct impact on the bottom line of buildings’ profitability.
Building owners get even more conservative about the V2B market when you consider that charging electric vehicles pose a clear path for V2B revenue, but the market share of EVs is anticipated to be 2% by 2020 according to Navigant Research. This small, likely geographically concentrated niche, will leave building owners to build a murkier case for traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.
Despite all of this, the participants at the V2B Mashup felt that this significant upside for building owners. Surveying during the event showed that the building owners were thought to be the stakeholders that are most likely to benefit from the V2B market.
The implications from all of this is that the two industries will likely find a path forward, but both the revenue potential and cost burden will be more heavily in the building owners court. With that in mind, the real burden will be laid at the feet of building automation system developers. The faster building automation systems develop the recognized standards, software, and defined cybersecurity systems to absorb vehicle data, the better for building owners. Additionally, the smart cities and smart communities systems are simply a motivating tool, albeit a powerful one, to get vehicle OEMs on board with offering connected vehicles. As those at the V2B Mashup said, the market seems inevitable, but not without some fairly significant growing pains on the building side.