UK Spends £30 million on V2G Technology

As we reported back in the summer:

The United Kingdom Government… pledged to pump £20 million into vehicle-to-grid technology.

After an apparently interminable wait it was announced on Twitter yesterday that:

Today a plethora of press releases have added some flesh to those bare bones. According to UK Power Networks:

UK Power Networks is part of a consortium that has won £11m government funding for four electric vehicle demonstration projects as part of a series of Vehicle to Grid (V2G) innovation bids.

Vehicle to Grid technology enables energy stored in an electric vehicle’s battery to be fed back into the electricity network at times of peak demand. By recharging when demand is low and putting energy into the electricity network when it is high, V2G helps manage the peaks and troughs, balance the network and make it more efficient.

The government is to ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040, and it sees a smarter and more flexible electricity system as a major benefit to consumers and a key enabler to transport’s future growth.

UK Power Networks currently has more than 30,000 electric vehicles connected to our networks and by 2030 we anticipate that figure will rise to between 1.2-1.9m. Many of these electric vehicles will be V2G capable and could be used to support delivering electricity reliably and at the lowest possible cost.

The competition is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and is delivered by Innovate UK.

The four V2G projects that UK Power Networks will be taking part in are:

  • Bus2Grid: Supporting a project to turn a 30-bus garage into the first of its kind in the UK Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) bus garage.
  • e4Future: A trial on 1,000 V2G fleet vehicles
  • Beating Home: Domestic customer V2G trial involving customers in specific areas.
  • V2Street: Public charging networks with a local authority and a charge point provider. Targeted at the 60-70% of Londoners without off-street charging capability.

Note that the £20 million on offer last August has been increased to £30 million today! Perhaps that’s at least a partial explanation for the delay in the appearance of the announcement? UKPN don’t provide much detail on the four out of twenty one projects revealed so far, so let’s look a bit further afield shall we? Heading back to Twitter there’s an announcement of a new product offering and a new EV web site from Octopus Energy unsurprisingly entitled Octopus Electric Vehicles:

which was swiftly followed by another Tweet explaining that:

which put us on the trail of this press release from ChargePoint Services:

Octopus Energy today launched a new consortium to develop the first large-scale domestic trial of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging in the UK, following a £3 million funding injection by BEIS and OLEV delivered by InnovateUK.

Comprising Octopus Energy, Octopus Electric Vehicles, UK Power Networks, ChargePoint Services, Open Energi, Energy Saving Trust and Navigant, the consortium will roll out vehicle-to-grid charging technology to UK electric vehicle (EV) drivers this year.

The £7million project will install 135 V2G chargers in a ‘cluster’ delivery model that will facilitate research into the impact of widespread EV rollout on the UK’s electricity grid. The project will demonstrate the benefits of using domestic electric vehicle batteries to provide grid flexibility, cheaper transport and energy to homeowners, and faster decarbonisation of the UK’s power and transport sectors.

Customers will be able to discover electric vehicles, take them for a test drive and access a special V2G bundle, Octopus PowerLoop, when leasing a V2G compatible car. A two-way charger will enable the driver to charge their vehicle intelligently, using their vehicle battery to power their home during peak times or selling spare power back to the grid – creating value for the driver.

The technology could revolutionise the energy system by enabling electric vehicles to act as battery packs for the grid, helping to solve the challenge of how to harness the full potential of renewable energy whilst making sure that it is always available on demand. Evidence also shows that V2G use has the potential to increase battery life.

The ChargePoint announcement goes on to quote Octopus Electric Vehicles CEO Fiona Howarth:

Octopus Energy was founded to drive down the cost of energy to customers and the planet, and Octopus Electric Vehicles is the next phase in that mission.

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 households. We’re delighted to be working with this consortium of visionary companies, and proud to be backed by Innovate UK.

It sounds as though the Octopus Group are intent on competing head on with OVO Energy who previously “embraced” V2G technology:

We’re hurtling towards a place where ‘two-way’ electric car chargers can enable homeowners with electric cars to sell their energy back to the national network. It’s a smart idea when you consider that over 90% of cars are parked at any one time – which is a lot of energy just sitting there doing nothing. This technology will give you the opportunity to manage your energy your way, and potentially become energy self-sufficient, reducing everyone’s reliance on energy companies. Get solar panels fitted, then adopt vehicle to grid technology and your home could become a private mini-power station!

There are a number of other quotes too. Mark Thompson, Senior Innovation Lead at Innovate UK added:

Vehicle-to-Grid is one of the most iconic parts of the electric vehicle domain, and one that represents a great opportunity for engaging society with the energy system for win-win benefit. The Octopus V2G project is part of a creative, diverse and ambitious group of V2G projects announced today that are way ahead of anything being done currently world-wide, and give the UK a genuine competitive edge in the electrification of transport.

Alex Bamberg, Managing Director, ChargePoint Services, said:

ChargePoint Services’ GeniePoint Network continues to be at the cutting edge of delivering the smartest and most reliable electric vehicle charging network in the UK. With this consortium, we join with existing partners to enable us to provide real benefits to the end user both in terms of efficiency and reduced cost. Our investment in the GeniePoint Network and its class leading reliability is further enhanced, whilst at the same time ensuring protection and flexibility of the UK’s energy Grid.

Ian Cameron, Head of Innovation at UK Power Networks said:

Electric vehicles are effectively energy sources on wheels, so there are tremendous opportunities to explore how electricity networks can use any spare capacity in those batteries to benefit our 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. We’re innovating to keep our customers moving at the lowest possible cost.

Dagoberto Cedillos, Strategy and Innovation Lead at Open Energi said:

Smart charging solutions that align the needs of drivers and the electricity grid are fundamental to the future of sustainable energy and transport. In partnership with our fellow consortium members, we’re applying cutting-edge tech to help realise the enormous opportunity that is domestic V2G charging in the UK, and internationally.

That is of course all very good news, but it raises one big question, in my mind at least. For some strange reason the Beating Home/PowerLoop (depending on which press release you prefer) consortium doesn’t seem to include a bi-directional electric vehicle charging point manufacturer and none of the assorted news releases and quotations mentions that rather essential piece of hardware, or indeed shows a picture of such equipment in action. To right that particular wrong, here’s one I prepared earlier:

A Exeter Nissan e-NV200 plugged in to the V2G charging station at EBRI

There’s also no mention of the activity that I’m currently engaged in. Developing international standards for the protocols that ChargePoint Services’s charging station management system (CSMS for short) might one day use to communicate with the unnamed electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE for short) OEM’s V2G capable hardware installed in 135 Great British homes:

2 thoughts on “UK Spends £30 million on V2G Technology

  1. I am reliably informed that:

    Beating Home was the old name. Octopus PowerLoop is the new name for the V2G bundle that we will be offering.

    Meanwhile Navigant Reseach have issued their own press release about the “PowerLoop” project:

    During the next three years, Navigant will serve as a key advisor and participant in a UK initiative aimed at developing the first large-scale trial of residential vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging.

    For its part, Navigant will contribute project advice, analysis, and dissemination, focusing on grid integration and business model development, and covering areas such as new flexibility markets, customer propositions, and benefits for distribution system operators and market participants.

    Ultimately, the £7 million project will install 135 V2G chargers in a cluster delivery model that will facilitate research into the impact of widespread EV rollout on the UK’s energy grid, according to a Utility Week article. The project will demonstrate the benefits of using domestic EV batteries to provide grid flexibility, cheaper transport and energy to homeowners, and faster decarbonization of the UK’s power and transport sectors.

    Open Energi have also issued a PowerLoop press release. It doesn’t add anything significant to what’s already been covered above.

    Finally, for the moment at least, according to Navigant Director Mark Livingstone:

    Our project focuses on the residential market, so is quite ground breaking as V2G services are in a very early stage in this segment. Very few chargers and EVs are equipped for this role at present, so we will have technical innovation to test as well as customer response and system performance questions.

    As we have discussed at length here over the last five years, there are actually a fair few V2G capable EVs on Britain’s roads already. However the same cannot currently be said for “residential” V2G capable charging stations!

  2. In a press release over the weekend Upside Energy announced that:

    It was successful with three bids to Innovate UK’s recent Vehicle-to-Grid funding call. These projects will extend the flexibility Upside Energy can deliver to the energy system, and the value it can deliver to consumers and product manufacturers.

    The three projects, ‘HAVEN’, ‘V2Street’ & ‘V2GO’, won a total of £4.7m of funding as 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.

    Upside go into much more detail about their joint project with UKPN than the DNO’s original press release

    ‘V2Street’ addresses the chicken-and-egg problem that people who cannot park their cars off-street will not buy EVs, if they cannot see that on-street charging infrastructure is available; and local authorities won’t install infrastructure if they cannot see demand for EVs. V2Street will explore ways to break this deadlock by developing a novel consumer value proposition that uses flexibility in V2F-enabled charging to provide demand side response (DSR) services to the energy system. Revenue from these DSR services then supports investment in charging infrastructure, creating a virtuous cycle of EV adoption and infrastructure investment. Partners on the project include Ubitricity, E-Car Club, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Durham County Council, UK Power Networks, EDF, Imperial College, Loughborough University and Future Cities Catapult.

    ‘HAVEN’ is another project led by Upside Energy. It:

    Will explore the use of EV batteries to provide flexibility to the energy system within the context of other systems in the home, e.g. batteries attached to solar PV arrays, domestic heating and hot water systems. It will use the unique facility of the Salford Energy House, a Victorian terraced house within a climate-controlled chamber, to test different configurations of EV battery and other storage system and hence build a robust suite of models of the value that EV batteries can bring within an integrated home energy storage system. Upside will partner with Salford University, Honda and Good Energy to conduct this study.

    The third project is led by EDF. ‘V2GO’:

    Will develop, trial and evaluate potential business models for fleet operators to engage with vehicle to grid opportunities through the development of ‘on’ and ‘off’ vehicle hardware, products and services. Given the size and usage patterns of fleets, economies of scales could be generated by fleet operators which would encourage large scale uptake of electric vehicles. The project is led by EDF and includes; Upside Energy, University of Oxford, Oxfordshire County council, EV chargers EO, Fleet Innovation Ltd and manufacturer of EVs, Arrival.

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