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 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 Nissan Technical Centre Europe, Energy Systems Catapult, Cenex, Western Power Distribution, National Grid ESO, Moixa and Element Energy.
V2GB – Vehicle to Grid Britain – is 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.
The Challenge and Opportunity
Current trends show that sales of Electric Vehicles is 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.
EV charging loads are unprecedented, and early UK trials showed that widespread, uncontrolled, EV charging could double peak loads on distribution networks. As more car companies announce plans to focus on EV drivetrains, the ramping up of this charging load could be very rapid indeed, challenging the stability and security of the electricity grid.
When EVs are left plugged into smart, two-way charging points while not in use, their batteries can actually feed power back into the network at times of peak demand. Smart chargers can then control when cars recharge to avoid adding stress to the network and to 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 consortium is seeking to establish what the opportunity for V2G is and, where benefits are identified, what mechanisms would be most effective to realise that potential – drivers of EVs, owners of smart chargers and charging sites such as car parks, and aggregators of battery capacity.
The feasibility study V2GB – Vehicle to Grid Britain, led by Element Energy is 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 explores 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.
Energy Systems Catapult provided the modelling capability to establish the energy system impacts of implementing V2G under a range of different vehicle uptake and electricity generation scenarios. This analysis informs the opportunity available to future V2G providers and establish key drivers and dependencies that would influence V2G revenue.
Among the key conclusions of the project were the following:
- Residential V2G charging 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 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 £200m 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.