Electric Nation, the electric car division of UK electricity network operator Western Power Distribution (WPD), is launching a 12-month-long vehicle-to-grid (V2G) trial across three regions including the Midlands, South West Wales and South Wales.
Although naysayers of electric vehicles (EVs) claim that extra pressure on the electricity grid is a reason not to go electric, EVs and plug-in hybrids such as the Nissan Leaf and newer Mitsubishi Outlanders that have bidirectional charging can actually help to do the opposite, and take pressure off the grid.
They can do this by alleviating peaks and troughs in electricity demand, either storing energy or discharging it back to the grid as required, and provide important grid services. But the mechanisms by which this can be properly managed require better understanding if it is to be successful.
It’s a concept that is being explored by many network providers, including in Australia, as electric vehicles become increasingly popular.
Roger Hey, WPD’s systems and projects manager for distribution system operations, said in a statement: “The energy industry has to plan long-term, so it is urgent that we continue working to find the practical solutions to meet the government’s net-zero target. That is why we have begun recruitment for the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project now.”
“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,” Hey said.
In partnership with CrowdCharge, WPD is inviting 100 owners of Nissan Leafs with batteries larger than 30kWh who live in its three regions to take part in the trial, which will run from March 2021 to March 2022.
In return, the eligible drivers will receive a smart charger worth £5,500 ($A9,987 converted) to use in the trial. In return for plugging in their Nissan Leafs at particular times of the day, they will be able to purchase the charger at the end of the trial for just £250 ($A453).
Mike Potter, CEO of CrowdCharge said in a statement that: “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.
“The project can provide an important insight into how the market and the DNO (distribution network operator) can operate for maximum benefit for all customers,” Potter said.
The trial will give WPD and CrowdCharge insight into how V2G technology can integrate with the daily habits and routines of everyday people.
According to Electric Nation, the WPD/CrowdCharge trial will offer more realistic insight into V2G across networks as WPD sources its energy from five energy suppliers, instead of only one.
Over the course of the trial, WPD expects to glean data from more than two million hours of car charging, such as when people charge and what impact different tariffs have.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.