Electric vehicle-to-grid trials secure £11m government backing

UK Power Networks, Octopus Energy, BYD, SSE and University of Leeds will trial technology that stores energy in EVs and buses for use later by the grid

Four UK electric vehicle pilot projects have secured £11m in government funding to trial vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, which stores excess power in EV batteries for use by the grid at times of high demand.

Consortia including electricity distributor UK Power Networks, energy supplier SSE, Chinese firm BYD, Octopus Energy, the University of Leeds and others secured the funding through a government-backed InnovateUK competition.

The winning projects, announced yesterday, will trial V2G across bus, fleet, public and residential EV projects. The four projects are:

  • ‘Bus2Grid’: A project to install V2G technology in a 30-bus garage
  • ‘e4Future’: A trial on 1,000 V2G fleet vehicles
  • ‘Octopus PowerLoop’: A £7m (£3m government funding) domestic customer V2G trial led by a consortium of Octopus Energy, Octopus Electric Vehicles, UK Power Networks, ChargePoint Services, Open Energi, Energy Saving Trust and Navigant.
  • ‘V2Street’: With 60-70 per cent of Londoners lacking off-street charging capability, this project will focus on public charging networks with a local authority and a charge point provider

The pilots will be part-funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), which will fund up to 70 per cent of the trial costs.  They are four of 21 projects to secure total funding of around £30m through the InnovateUK V2G competition.

V2G technology is considered crucial for helping smooth the peaks and troughs in demand on the grid, particularly given the rise of intermittent renewables on the system and the expected mass rollout of electric vehicles.

A report yesterday by Aurora Energy Research predicted the UK could have 10 million EVs on the roads by 2035, adding that such a rollout would necessitate smarter charging systems to ensure vehicles are charged during periods of peak supply and ease pressure on the grid. This, the report said, could also deliver efficiencies as well as saving the average EV owner £170 a year.

UK Power Networks, which is involved in all four of the projects, said it currently has more than 30,000 electric vehicles connected to its networks. By 2030 it expects the figure to rise to between 1.2 million and 1.9 million, many of which will be V2G capable.

Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UK Power Networks said EVs are effectively “energy sources on wheels” that provide “tremendous opportunities” to more efficiently operate the electricity grid as well as benefitting customers.

“In the future you could use your car battery to power your house or earn money by selling its spare energy back into the network at peak times, and all of this whilst ensuring you have enough energy for your next day’s commute,” he said. “We’re innovating to keep our customers moving at the lowest possible cost.”

Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles, also welcomed the funding. “There has been a lot of talk from the sidelines about how vehicle-to-grid technology will change the face of energy, but with this consortium we will be the first in the UK to actually deliver it to hundreds of householdsm,” she said of the Octopus Powerloop project.

Source: Business Green