More March Power Cuts in Cornwall

The UK’s Met Office has issued a yellow warning for wind and rain across South West England this afternoon:

As the Met Office point out:

Some short term loss of power and other services is possible.

We would go somewhat further, and suggest that some power cuts are likely here in Cornwall. Not least because 1,702 properties near Marazion suffered a power cut yesterday afternoon:

[Edit – 14:00 on March 12th]

Would you believe that this afternoon’s first Cornish power cut was in Marazion?

Watch this space!

General Motors Announce V2H Pilot Project

A number of commenters on Twitter are getting very excited about an announcement from General Motors earlier today. Here’s GM’s Mary Barra and PG&E’s Patti Poppe talking with Phil LeBeau on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”:

As Mary says to Phil:

Bi-directional charging will help when there’s a power outage or additional demand, to really help supply energy and keep everybody having the energy they need to live their lives.

Phil suggests:

What you guys are talking about doing is making smart vehicles and a smart grid, where the communication happens and I don’t need to be involved. Correct?

Patti responds:

Automatically! There’s like this value stack for electric vehicles that I don’t think people fully appreciate yet. The first is obviously decarbonising transportation, number one and everybody gets that. And it’s a great driving experience. But then you stack on the resiliency play because of the effects of climate change, and then on a peak summer day imagine being able to leverage the fleet of electric vehicles. In California, in fact in my service area alone, one in five electric vehicles sold in America are in my service area, so we can really deploy them to power homes and to enable the grid.

In the accompanying press release General Motors reveal that:

Pacific Gas and Electric Company and General Motors today announced a breakthrough collaboration to pilot the use of GM electric vehicles as on-demand power sources for homes in PG&E’s service area.

PG&E and GM will test vehicles with cutting-edge bidirectional charging technology that can help safely power the essential needs of a properly equipped home. EVs play a critical role in achieving California’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and already provide customers with many benefits. Bidirectional charging capabilities add even further value by improving electric resiliency and reliability…

Skipping to the “How the pilot will work” section of the news release GM explain that:

PG&E and GM aim to test the pilot’s first vehicle-to-home capable EV and charger by summer 2022. The pilot will include the use of bidirectional hardware coupled with software-defined communications protocols that will enable power to flow from a charged EV into a customer’s home, automatically coordinating between the EV, home and PG&E’s electric supply. The pilot will include multiple GM EVs.

Following lab testing, PG&E and GM plan to test vehicle-to-home interconnection allowing a small subset of customers’ homes to safely receive power from the EV when power stops flowing from the electric grid. Through this field demonstration, PG&E and GM aim to develop a user-friendly vehicle-to-home customer experience for this new technology. Both teams are working quickly to scale the pilot with the goal of opening larger customer trials by the end of 2022.

It seems as though Mary, Patti, Phil et al. are blissfully unaware that pilot projects involving V2H/V2G and several hundred electric vehicles have been under way here in the United Kingdom since 2018.

We have even been running a “cutting-edge bidirectional charging technology” project in our very own car park here in wild and woolly South West England for the last couple of years:

For a more detailed overview of the UK pilot projects referred to above please download the presentation available at our sister web site:

“UK ‘Domestic’ V2G and DSR Trial Projects”

Ukraine War Wholesale Electricity Prices in the UK

Regular readers may recall some of my previous musings on UK electricity prices during previous “shocks” to UK energy markets? The latest proximate cause of apparently absurdly elevated prices is the ongoing war in Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

Here are the maximum UK wholesale electricity prices for the last 3 days according to Drax Electric Insights:

Here too are the Epex Spot day ahead electricity prices across much of Europe for later this evening:

Watch this space!

The State of the UK’s Public Charging Infrastructure?

This wasn’t Plan A, but circumstances beyond our control resulted in Lisa, our ageing V2G R&D Nissan LEAF, making a return trip to Bristol Airport over the last couple of days. Here is a Twitter thread revealing what she discovered en route:

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ISO 15118 Ready for California

The California Energy Commission (CEC for short) have recently undertaken a consultation on Assembly Bill 2127, which mandates a biennial assessment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in California. Following that consultation they have now published a technical note which recommends the “Deployment of ISO 15118-Ready Chargers “. It states amongst other things that:

California Energy Commission (CEC) staff recommends that charging providers pursue widespread deployment of ISO 15118-ready chargers. CEC analysis indicates that ISO 15118-ready chargers are needed to support current and upcoming vehicle features, critical vehicle-grid integration capabilities, and an easier-than-gas user experience.

The technical note provides an “ISO 15118-Ready Hardware Definition” which states that:

Based on dozens of stakeholder conversations, CEC staff has identified the following capabilities needed to support ISO 15118 communication for chargers using the J1772 or CCS connector. An “ISO 15118-ready” charger is capable of, at minimum:

  1. Powerline carrier (PLC) based high-level communication as specified in ISO 15118-3.
  2. Secure management and storage of keys and certificates.
  3. Transport Layer Security (TLS) version 1.2; additional support for TLS 1.3 or subsequent versions is recommended to prepare for future updates to the ISO 15118 standard.
  4. Remotely receiving updates to activate or enable ISO 15118 use cases.
  5. Connecting to a backend network.
  6. Selecting the appropriate communication protocol used by the vehicle.

An ISO 15118-ready charger uses at least one J1772 or CCS connector; this includes multiple-connector DC chargers with at least one CCS connector. ISO 15118-ready chargers should have onboard hardware to support the above capabilities, although software implementation of specific ISO 15118 use cases is not included in the scope of this recommendation. For example, an ISO 15118-ready charger should have the onboard hardware needed for Plug and Charge, but might not yet have Plug and Charge software implemented.

ISO 15118-ready chargers should be capable of selecting the appropriate communication protocol used by the vehicle. AC chargers should support pulse-width modulation control as specified in J1772 and be capable of communicating using ISO 15118-2 and/or ISO 15118-20. DC chargers should support DIN 70121 and be capable of communicating using ISO 15118-2 and/or ISO 15118-20.

The CEC then mention an area dear to our heart here at V2G UK, bi-directional charging:

CEC staff estimates that the marginal hardware components needed for ISO 15118 readiness cost less than $6 per charger. Despite the growing number of electric vehicle models using ISO 15118 for Plug and Charge and grid-integration features, many existing chargers, particularly AC chargers, are not equipped to reciprocate such communication. To fully support these vehicle models and capabilities, CEC staff recommends widespread deployment of ISO 15118-ready chargers.

The capabilities of an ISO 15118-ready charger identified above outline a hardware baseline for chargers using the J1772 or CCS connector and do not discourage additional functionality. ISO 15118-ready chargers may optionally support bidirectional charging. ISO 15118-ready chargers do not affect the use of other communication pathways (such as vehicle telematics).

All in all it sounds as though smart charging stations destined for the Californian market will in future bear a close resemblance to their European equivalents, albeit with some differences. A 60 Hz supply for example, and a CCS1 DC plug rather than CCS2:

Image by Mliu92, CC BY-SA 4.0,

There is however a fly in the ISO 15118 ointment:

CEC staff also plans to monitor related market indicators, such as PLC transceiver lead times.

V2H on the VW ID. Buzz Surf Bus!

In a press release earlier today VW announced that:

The world premiere of the ID. BUZZ concept car at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2017 triggered a sensational response around the globe. The positive feedback made only one decision possible: the concept car had to be transferred to full production. Five intensive years of development work followed. Now the time has come: the ID. Buzz – an electric motoring game-changer – is ready. Volkswagen is therefore activating the countdown for a double world premiere: on 9 March, the all-electric Bulli will be simultaneously taking off emission-free as the ID. Buzz (5-seater) and Buzz Cargo (van).

The ID. Buzz in Barcelona

The ID. Buzz looks like the iconic electric surf bus for the 2020s and beyond?

Not having had a chance to test drive the Buzz ourselves as yet, here for your delectation is Jonny Smith’s initial review on his Late Brake Show .

By all means rewind to the start and watch the entire video, but I’ve chosen to look first at the section captioned “Bi-directional charging”:

According to Markus Arand, head of brand and product communications at VW Commercial Vehicles:

When you have solar panels on your home, for example, this car will be able to have a thing called bi-directional charging. You can give the energy from the ID. Buzz back to your home. This is the combination we are talking about.

The other technical innovation of particular interest to yours truly, since I sit on the international standards committee that developed it, is that the ID. Buzz evidently supports the ISO 15118-20 communications protocol between the EV and the charging station. The resulting ability to “Plug & Charge” without messing around with plastic cards or dodgy apps is mentioned at 25:46 in Jonny’s video.

The Buzz “data sheet” doesn’t mention its vehicle-to-home capability, but does include the following information:

Important dates

• World premiere: 9 March 2022

• Start of production ID. Buzz Cargo: first half of 2022

• Start of production ID. Buzz: first half of 2022

• Market launch in Europe: autumn 2022

Here at V2G UK we await more technical details about the Buzz’s V2H capabilities with barely bated breath! A test drive to the seaside would also be much appreciated. And also a bit of vehicle-to-home interoperability testing in our suitably equipped car park:

Lisa our Nissan LEAF also cannot wait to meet Buzz. She gets very lonely at times:

Storm Franklin Power Cuts

There are still numerous faults across South West England caused by Storm Eunice last Friday that haven’t been repaired yet. Now a lot more power cuts have been added to the long lists of UK DNOs thanks to the arrival across the British Isles of yet another named storm yesterday, Storm Franklin. Here’s how the Met Office initially announced the news:

Storm Franklin has been named as the low-pressure system is expected to bring high winds during Sunday night and into Monday morning for much of the UK.

The latest storm follows on from a week in which Storm Dudley and Storm Eunice also impacted the UK, although wind gusts from Storm Franklin are expected to be lower than Eunice which triggered two Red Weather Warnings.

Northern areas of Northern Ireland are covered by an Amber Wind Warning that will be in force from early Monday morning. Within the Amber Warning area, winds could be in excess of 80mph in exposed coastal areas, but more widely between 60 and 70mph. Damage to buildings is possible, and there’s likely travel disruption.

An extended Yellow Warning for wind which covers much of the rest of the UK, except the northeast, has also been issued for Storm Franklin. Within the yellow warning area, wind gusts will be 65-75mph in coastal areas, and more widely 50-60mph further inland. The coasts of the northwest of England and the southwest of Scotland could see gusts of up to 75mph for a short period on Sunday night and early Monday morning.

Here are the by now all too familiar live power cut maps from across the British Isles this morning, starting with the island of Ireland:

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Storm Eunice Blacks Out Davidstow

It’s just gone 10 AM, and Storm Eunice is raging outside. Our lights went out and our uninterruptible power supplies started beeping a couple of minutes ago. The lights came back on and the beeping stopped a few seconds later. There are 13,884 properties suffering a power cut in Cornwall, but at least ours was brief!

However some other local residents are not so fortunate:

Western Power Distribution currently estimate that the fault will be fixed by 1 PM, but what with one thing and another that strikes me as being a bit optimistic.

[Edit – 11:00 February 19th]

WPD have been gradually fixing the faults on their network in the Davidstow area following Storm Eunice yesterday. However there are still 690 properties that have been without electricity for over 24 hours:

There are also still several more faults nearby:

[Edit – 14:00 February 19th]

It seems our flickering lights this morning meant that we’ve just dodged another metaphorical electric bullet here on the fringes of Davidstow. Whilst yesterday’s fault is now almost fixed:

another big high voltage fault hit this side of the Atlantic Highway this morning:

[Edit – 18:00 February 19th]

We may have managed to dodge the first two bullets, but unfortunately not the third. I went on a bike ride around the neighbourhood this afternoon try to find some WPD engineers. More on all that in due course, but I failed miserably in my mission until the very end of my ride. This was the sight that greeted me at the end of our lane:

This was the reason for their visit:

[Edit – 12:00 February 20th]

We’ve received some unexpected good news this morning. Thanks to the efforts of Western Power’s engineers by floodlight overnight electricity is already flowing around our ring mains once again!

Storm Eunice Wreaks Havoc

Regular readers may recall our own recent power cut in the wake of Storm Arwen before Christmas? Whether we experience another one tomorrow remains to be seen, but I am confident that many other people down here in South West England will.

The Met Office issued a rare “red” wind warning for our part of the world earlier today:

The Met Office forecasts that:

Extremely strong west to southwesterly winds will develop over southwest England and south Wales early on Friday. Widespread inland gusts of 70-80 mph are likely and up to around 90 mph near some coasts, with dangerous conditions on beaches and seafronts. Winds are expected to ease from the west during the late morning.

What to expect

  • Flying debris resulting in danger to life
  • Damage to buildings and homes, with roofs blown off and power lines brought down
  • Uprooted trees are likely
  • Roads, bridges and railway lines closed, with delays and cancellations to bus, train, ferry services and flights
  • Power cuts affecting other services, such as mobile phone coverage
  • Large waves and beach material being thrown onto coastal roads, sea fronts and homes, including flooding of some coastal properties

In the aftermath of Storm Dudley here are the current power cut maps for Western Power Distribution:

and ESB Networks:

I cannot help but wonder what they will look like by noon tomorrow?

[Edit – 13:00 on February 18th]

In a slightly belated answer to the question I posed last night, here are WPD’s current map and tables of woe:

Together with ESB Networks map for Eire:

Plus Scottish and Southern’s south coast map:

plus UK Power Networks’ map for South East England:

The other DNOs don’t provide handy tables of real time outage numbers, but WPD’s reveal that at 12:40 there were 123,955 properties without electric power across their four regions of the UK, of which 26,479 are here in Cornwall with another 30,642 next door in Devon.

Storm Franklin arrived on our shores before all the faults caused by Storm Eunice were repaired. Hence the story continues over at:

Storm Franklin Power Cuts

UK Publishes Interim Report on Storm Arwen Review

As yet another named storm arrives on the coast of North Cornwall the UK Government has just published what they describe as an “interim report” into the events of last November when Storm Arwen struck more northern parts of the nation. As the news release puts it :

The review was launched last year by the Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng in the wake of one of the worst storms in decades, with Storm Arwen bringing significant and widespread severe weather to the UK and leaving just under 1 million households experiencing power cuts, 59,101 of whom were without power for over 48 hours and 3,032 for a week or more.

Today’s Interim Report has identified early key findings and initial recommendations based on preliminary evidence including that call wait times for customers to speak to network operators were too high, and that some households, especially in rural areas, experienced unacceptably long power cuts.

Nearly 90% of those affected received compensation payments by 24 January, following the Business and Energy Secretary writing to network providers to ensure this was paid as soon as possible – with the timeliness of payments a key focus of the review.

As the government made clear at the time, it was completely unacceptable that thousands of homes were left without power for so long, which is why a specific review into how network operators responded to Storm Arwen was launched to identify lessons and recommendations for the management of future power disruption events.

Some of the key initial findings in the Interim Report include:

  • recognising that wait times for some customers to contact their network operator were unacceptably high, and recommending that more needs to be done to manage both the method and content of customer communications effectively during severe events to allow customers to make informed decisions about their welfare
  • identifying the unusual northerly wind as putting the network at more risk, recommending Network Operators and partners should better account for wind direction as well as speed and duration in their escalation thresholds
  • acknowledging there were unacceptably long power cuts to some households, especially those in rural areas, and recommending enhancing strategies to reduce the length of time customers remain off supply following severe and widespread power disruption
  • recommending that new processes should be established to ensure payment of compensation to affected customers occurs without delay

The review is in addition to the industry regulator Ofgem’s which is looking at how each individual network operator performed against the legal standards they are required to, such as whether network operators made sufficient investments in infrastructure in areas that experienced faults. Where operators did not meet these standards, Ofgem will consider if appropriate enforcement action needs to be taken against them.

Ofgem can impose financial penalties of up to 10% of a licensee’s turnover, make consumer redress orders and issue provisional/final orders, where appropriate, for breaches of relevant conditions and requirements under the Gas Act 1986 and the Electricity Act 1989.

A final report, detailing specific actions and delivery plans for their implementation, is due around the end of March 2022, when Ofgem will also publish findings from their review into the handling of the storm. In the meantime, the review will continue to work on the issues that have been identified, in order to learn lessons and develop recommendations for the prevention and management of storms.

A brief extract from the interim report itself discusses the primary causes of damage:

The impacts of Storm Arwen were felt across Great Britain’s electricity system, with 13 of the 14 network licence areas being affected, although to differing extents. The only network licence area not affected was UK Power Network’s London area.

In total, nearly 6,500 faults were recorded by the network operators, predominately to overhead line circuits. On the peak day of the storm, 27 November, Network Operators recorded 2,478 faults, 10 times more on average than a typical day. These faults on the electricity system resulted in just under 1 million customers being without electricity for between 3 minutes and 12 days. This equates to 3.2% of customers across Great Britain experiencing a power cut for more than three minutes as a result of Storm Arwen.

The damage inflicted by Storm Arwen on electricity networks was far more severe in some regions of Great Britain compared to others, with Scotland and Northern England, particularly along the Eastern Coast in regions such as Aberdeenshire, Northumberland and Yorkshire being the most affected.

The high number of fallen and broken trees was due to the high wind speeds from the north, which is not the prevailing wind direction for most of the UK. Trees grow to withstand winds coming from the prevailing direction, which in most cases is from the south-west. As a consequence, Storm Arwen brought down and uprooted/snapped more trees causing more faults on the electricity networks than similar wind speeds from the south-west would have done.

Storm Arwen caused relatively little damage to higher voltage lines, although this varied geographically, largely due to them being supported by more robust lattice towers, rather than wooden poles. The vast majority of faults occurred on the lower voltage lines. The main causes of failure were caused by:

  • Trees falling directly onto the overhead lines/wooden poles.
  • Flying debris bringing down/getting entangled in the overhead lines or on to equipment within the substations
  • Strong winds snapping overhead lines or wooden poles that support them.
  • Ice forming around the overhead lines causing them to break under the weight and additional resistance in the sustained high winds.

In some places underground cables are used in place of overhead lines. While more resilient to high winds, they pose other technical challenges, and the cost of undergrounding is between 2 and 20 times more expensive than overhead lines. The decision to invest in underground cables is driven by a balance of risk and costs that is regularly reviewed by operators and the regulator.