Vehicle-to-Grid GB: Decarbonising Britain

Published: 1 October 2019

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies could play a key role in the decarbonisation of Britain’s transport and energy systems. Connecting millions of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and coordinating their charging and discharging could minimise the costs of EV battery charging, while allowing the grid to integrate high levels of variable renewable energy sources.

Energy Systems Catapult provided modelling support in a consortium project that is studying how to reward drivers who use their electric car batteries to support the UK’s power grid. The consortium consisted of several energy companies: Nissan Technical Centre Europe, Energy Systems Catapult, Cenex, Western Power Distribution, National Grid ESO, Moixa and Element Energy.

V2GB – Vehicle to Grid Britain – was one of 21 projects sharing nearly £30 million of government funding in a competition run by Innovate UK, which seeks to make the UK a world leader in low carbon vehicles and represents a significant step towards the transition to a low carbon transportation and a smart energy system.

V2G: The Challenge and Opportunity

Current trends show that sales of Electric Vehicles are running at 69% year on year growth, while charging infrastructure growth is at 31%1. The adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles will bring significant benefits to the UK in improved air quality, decarbonisation, and economic growth.

Early UK trials showed that widespread, uncontrolled, EV charging could double peak loads on distribution networks. Yet EVs using smart, two-way charging can feed power back into the network from their batteries at times of peak demand, recharge at times that avoid peak demand on the electric grid and store surplus power when demand is low.

This has the potential to stabilise networks and allow them to operate more efficiently, delay infrastructure investments, increase the deployment of variable renewable energy technologies, reduce curtailment, reduce reliance on fossil fuel power stations and lower the cost of owning EVs.

New business opportunities are set to emerge to help realise these benefits for both EV users and energy consumers more widely. The energy storage capacity of a future EV fleet would represent an energy asset of national significance. As of today, there remain significant gaps in knowledge on potential V2G markets and revenue streams, competition with other technologies, driver behaviour and response to V2G, and commercial arrangements and legislative constraints.

 

The Innovation

The feasibility study V2GB – Vehicle to Grid Britain, led by Element Energy was part of the Vehicle-to-Grid competition, funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), in partnership with Innovate UK.

Drawing on the diverse expertise of consortium members Nissan Technical Centre Europe, Energy Systems Catapult, Cenex, Western Power Distribution, National Grid ESO, Moixa and Element Energy, the project explored both near term niches and enduring large-scale opportunities for V2G to play a role in a flexible energy system in Britain.

National Grid and Western Power Distribution advised on electricity system operation and distribution network challenges and opportunities. Nissan’s European Technical Centre provided real-life data on driver behaviour, drawing on experience of delivering more than 500,000 EVs worldwide.

 

Our Approach

Energy Systems Catapult was the partner of choice for modelling and providing insight on the range of complex scenarios due to our whole systems expertise and unique simulation capabilities.

The Catapult modelling established the energy system impacts of implementing V2G under a range of different vehicle uptake and electricity generation scenarios. We simulated a wide range of business models and technologies to explore both near term niches and enduring large-scale opportunities for V2G to play a role in the energy system in Great Britain – and how it could benefit both operators and consumers. The analysis drew on a vast range of complex data.

Thanks to these cutting-edge models, government and industry have an evidence-based way to see how V2G could work within the wider energy and transport systems.

 

The Outcomes

Project findings show the value of V2G when offering grid services, the effect of V2G hardware cost and how to mitigate it and the whole energy system value and decarbonisation potential of V2G. Project recommendations include pathways to maximise revenues and enable and support adoption of V2G.

Among the key conclusions of the project were the following:

  • Residential V2G charge points could be economically viable in the near term, but to do so will require a combination of high plug-in rates, reduction of the installation costs of high accuracy smart metering equipment for Firm Frequency Response (FFR), stacking of multiple revenue streams, and an agile model to move between revenue streams in a dynamic market environment.
  • To achieve wider uptake and contribute to energy system decarbonisation, the industry must reduce V2G hardware cost significantly, develop viable commercial models to depreciate the assets over 10 years, and remove consumer concerns about range and battery impacts.
  • A 7kW residential V2G charger could capture over £400/year in revenues, but only in ideal circumstances – a typical figure would be ca. £100/year.
  • The cost premium for 7kW V2G needs to drop below £1000 by 2030 for continued viability.
    V2G could help to save £270m of cumulative distribution network investment by 2030.
  • Smart Charging could generate GB energy system net savings of £180m/annum, and V2G could save additional £40-90M annually in GB by 2030.

 

The Impact of Vehicle to Grid Britain

The analysis will enable policymakers, network operators and vehicle manufacturers to quantify the V2G opportunity, understand revenue prospects and create an environment that supports continued EV uptake.

The study provides industry insights of how V2G technology should be structured to be commercially viable and explored pathways for scaling up V2G to be able to support a flexible and efficient energy system.

It was the first time V2G was incorporated into a whole energy system model to show the long-term opportunities. This fills a gap in stakeholder understanding of the long-term viability of V2G, distinguishing V2G from other future sources of flexibility and evaluating the size of the opportunity across several scenarios.



Update: August 2020

Nissan has installed 20 electric vehicle chargers with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities at its European Technical Centre in Cranfield, as it works to develop new ‘smart’ mobility packages for business customers in the UK, France, Belgium and Italy.

The chargers have been installed at the facility, in Bedfordshire, as part of a collaborative project with E.ON. Both companies have contributed funding to the initiative, called e4Future, as has the Government’s Innovate UK agency.




Update: June 2020

Western Power Distribution launched a new V2G trial as part of its Electric Nation project, with up to five separate energy suppliers. The trial will run between March 2021 and March 2022, in partnership with CrowdCharge, with recruitment for 100 participants currently underway.




Update: January 2020

Moixa is working with Islington Council and Honda on a V2G project, with five bidirectional chargers installed in the carpark of Islington Town Hall.

Moixa’s GridShare software will allow the council’s, Nissan e-NV200 electric vans to charge and provide storage for the building. Charging when electricity is cheap and green, usually when demand is low.


Explore more Energy Systems Catapult case studies to discover cutting-edge innovation happening around the UK.