Currently, EV owners will typically get home, plug the car in and – thanks to scheduled charging – know that it'll draw power from the grid and be ready to roll the next time it's required. Very few people will currently assume that one day their car will become a part of the grid itself and act as energy storage which can be fed back into the grid as and when it's needed.
Vehicle to Grid (V2G) grids seem like something for the far-off future – a great idea that will take years to get implemented on a large scale. But the technology has existed for several years now, and a head of steam is being built up behind trials which seek to understand how such a smart grid might be used. The latest is being undertaken under the umbrella of Electric Nation – an ongoing project run by Western Power Distribution.
Called 'Electric Nation: Powered Up', this latest trial is being run by CrowdCharge and is the next phase of Electric Nation's pilot activities. Previous schemes include a study to find out how the grid would cope with the extra load of EVs charging simultaneously. You can read about that project here.
Electric Nation: Powered Up is seeking to recruit 100 current or prospective owners of V2G-capable Nissan EVs in the Midlands, South West or South Wales. Successful applicants need to have a Nissan with a 30kWh battery or more and off-road parking to take part, but there are some pretty big bonuses within this.
Chief among these is the free installation of a smart charger worth around £5500 and during the one-year trial are expected to earn back around £120 through V2G rewards. Given that installing an EV charge point at home is known to add value to a property, just taking part seems like a good deal on its own.
However, the real value in the Electric Nation scheme is in the data that will be collected. It will allow electricity distribution network operators to understand how V2G charging could work with their networks. What's more, unlike other V2G trials – such as the EDF and Nissan project in mainland Europe or Octopus Energy's V2G bundle – the Electric Nation pilot isn't limited to a single power supplier. Instead, up to five will be taking part which will further improve the data being collected as representative of a real-world scenario.
Mike Potter, CEO of CrowdCharge, said: “Vehicle to grid charging is a great concept, but it hasn’t yet been trialled sufficiently on Britain’s electricity networks to enable it to be rolled out on a country-wide basis - hence the need for this project. This trial will study the real-world effects of V2G and look to provide a smart solution to provide management of electric vehicle charging.”
Roger Hey, Western Power Distribution’s DSO Systems and Projects Manager, added: “V2G charging has the potential to transform how networks approach the challenge of keeping millions of EVs charged and moving. To introduce up to 38 million EVs to the UK network over the coming years would create great strain on the system, the equivalent of adding the electrical energy of London 14 times. By harnessing flexible systems and introducing V2G charging, it means that we can build a far more efficient and flexible network that doesn’t require billions of investment and a huge uplift in capacity.”
Since applications opened at the beginning of June Electric Nation reports that 200 EV drivers have sought to take part. This has revealed some interesting data about the types of people who are applying, their current and future attitudes towards EVs and wider green energy. Electric Nation found that:
It's not just in EV ownership where applicants are ahead of the game; 45 per cent (90) of those who applied have solar panels installed at their property and 14 per cent (28) have a domestic stationary battery storage device.
Update 19.11.20: Electric Nation has confirmed that is has now installed the first chargers in its V2G trial scheme, with the year-long trial officially commencing in March, 2021. Those who are selected to take part not only stand to get cutting-edge technology installed at their home, they also stand to make back up to £120 during the scheme.
So far, over 450 people have applied to take part, but Electric Nation is still taking applications for the project. Wannabe applicants can find out more here: http://www.electricnation.org.uk/
Vehicle to grid charging will eventually be something that is so normal, we just don't think about it, but for now we're still in the phase of understanding how it will work. Gaining real-world data on how energy flows within a V2G-enabled grid will help pave the way for a more general roll-out across the country. Distributors will know what to expect and will be able to plan for a smarter, greener future.
The bottom line is that coping with increased power demand will require micro storage of energy. Given that EV ownership is set to increase rapidly, using them for that storage is the simplest and most practical solution. Further developments could come in the form of schemes like Tesla's Powerwall, but that's probably some way off compared to 'regular' V2G.