Vehicle-to-grid projects on pole for EV battery utilisation

Vehicle-to-grid technology (V2G) could help to stabilise electricity networks and support renewables


Electric cars do not just reduce greenhouse gas emissions when they are on the road, they also have the potential to supply energy stored in their batteries back into the grid when parked.

By recharging when demand is low and returning energy to the grid when it is high, this so-called vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology could help to stabilise electricity networks and support the increasing use of intermittent renewable energy sources.

Now a major UK effort is underway to develop the technology and business case for V2G charging, with the launch of 21 new projects, each sharing £30m in competition funding.

The projects, which involve 50 research organisations and industrial partners, are being funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, in partnership with Innovate UK. The 21 projects include eight feasibility studies, five research and development projects, and eight real-world V2G trials.

One such project is PowerLoop, led by Octopus Energy, which is developing the first large-scale domestic trial of V2G charging in the UK.

The £7m project, including £3m competition funding, will involve the lease of around 135 electric vehicles alongside a V2G bundle, known as the Octopus PowerLoop, to drivers in London and the surrounding areas. The PowerLoop bundle will include a two-way charger that will allow drivers to charge their vehicle when needed, but also use the charged battery to power their home, or sell unwanted electricity back to the grid.

In this way the project partners, who also include Octopus Electric Vehicles, UK Power Networks, ChargePoint Services, Open Energi, the Energy Saving Trust and Navigant, hope to create a cluster of users that will help them to understand the impact of widespread electric vehicle use on the grid.

Those taking part will be able to lease the cars for a period of two, three or four years, said Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles.

Nissan Leaf

The project partners also plan to develop a platform to allow users to communicate with their service providers.

“So, for example, if you were to get home at 5pm and plug in your car, you may want to ensure that 30 per cent of your battery charge is kept for emergencies,” said Howarth. “But then you might say that the energy supplier can do what they like with the remaining 70 per cent of the battery charge, until 7am when you have to leave for a business trip,” she said.

As well as the PowerLoop project, UK Power Networks is also involved in three other trials, including one known as Bus2Grid, which is aiming to convert a 30-bus garage into the UK’s first V2G bus garage.

The multi-megawatt demonstration at a London garage is being led by electricity supplier SSE, and will also involve electric bus manufacturer BYD.

Another project, called HAVEN, will investigate the value V2G and vehicle-to-home (V2H) charging can offer consumers when used alongside other energy storage systems such as lithium-ion batteries attached to solar panels, and hot water tanks. The project will also consider how the technology’s value varies with different energy consumption and driving patterns.

The consortium, which is being led by cloud-based smart grid company Upside Energy and also includes Honda, Good Energy and Salford University, will create models of different home energy storage configurations.

Meanwhile the Sciurus project, led by Ovo Energy, will develop and deploy V2G chargers to participants who own or lease a Nissan Leaf. The project will also develop a grid balancing platform to support grid operators during times of peak demand.