Weather Forecasts to Expand National Grid Capacity?

In a press release yesterday National Grid Group PLC announced that:

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) has partnered with the Met Office on an innovative weather data project to help expand capacity on the electricity transmission network for wind and solar power.

The partnership is aiming to explore the value that can be derived from utilising higher specification weather forecasts to boost capacity on the electricity overhead transmission power lines, allowing more renewable energy to flow.

Currently, the electricity transmission system is limited by the individual power rating or capacity of the circuits connecting everyone across the country and, with the growth in renewable electricity generation, power flows across the existing grid infrastructure are changing, particularly at peak periods.

Historically, standard assumptions made for weather conditions have been conservative, therefore assets have operated at ratings lower than the actual capacity. To expand capacity, the £545k project, funded through the Ofgem’s Network Innovation Allowance mechanism, looks to utilise significant advances in weather forecasting by assessing the feasibility of integrating a cloud-based weather forecasting service into NGETs present Dynamic line rating (DLR) calculation methodology.

Assessing the DLR and varying the capacity of an overhead transmission power line dynamically, depends on the conductor’s physical properties as well as environmental factors such as wind speed, wind direction, ambient temperature, solar radiation etc.  If the environmental conditions are favourable enough to cool the conductors sufficiently, more power can be pushed through the lines, relieving some of the network constraints – helping to meet the country’s energy needs.

Given that the United Kingdom’s energy needs are currently being met at great expense, let us all hope that every little helps.

Tesco and the rest of us!

Nissan Announce Townstar eVan

In a press release yesterday Nissan announced their replacement for the venerable e-NV200 electric van:

PARIS – Nissan reveals the next generation compact Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV), the all-new Townstar. With a fully electric powertrain in addition to a fuel-powered option, this new LCV range is primed to future-proof business operations and accelerate the transition towards electrification.

Demonstrating Nissan’s most technologically comprehensive LCV offering to date, the all-new Townstar brings a suite of 20+ technologies to the compact van offering, presenting a bold contender within the segment.

Building on the success of the Nissan e-NV200, a pioneer and leader in the electric LCV market, the fully electric version of the all-new Townstar is optimised to meet customer needs. With an enhanced 44kWh battery, advanced technology and low running costs the electric Townstar offers an efficient, sustainable mobility solution.

Here’s the Townstar launch video:

In view of the captions I cannot help but wonder when a right hand drive version will become available! In the meantime the press release tells us that:

The fully electric all-new Townstar will be equipped with a 44kWh battery and advanced technology. It will combine intelligent energy management and effective battery thermal cooling in one optimised package. The new van will replace the range offering of the e-NV200 and offer 245Nm of torque and 285km [range] (pending homologation)…

With a broad range of safety technologies and advanced driver assistance features such as Side Wind Assist and Trailer Sway Assist, the all-new Townstar provides a reassuring and confident experience behind the wheel. Intelligent Emergency Braking featuring Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection and Junction Assist, as well as Hands-Free Parking and Intelligent Cruise Control puts Townstar at the forefront of the category.

Nissan is integrating the Around View Monitor (AVM) for the first time in the compact van segment, democratising this cutting-edge technology. Using a suite of cameras, the system displays a 360-degree overview of the area around the vehicle, providing drivers with full peace of mind when parking in the city.

Customers of the fully electric all-new Townstar will also enjoy the innovative ProPILOT advanced driver assistance system. Supporting motorists with highway driving, the feature allows the vehicle to automatically slow to a full stop and accelerate by following the vehicle ahead, as well as keeping it centred in the lane – even around a gentle curve.

Convenient connectivity features such as E-Call, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and wireless phone charging will be available across the range from launch, with further enhanced Connected Services available from the launch of the fully electric version.

These connected services will be presented via an 8-inch touchscreen, which is linked to a 10-inch digital combimeter in front of the driver in the fully electric all-new Townstar.A

Built on the Alliance CMF-C platform, the all-new Townstar has been built from the ground up with quality and functionality in mind. It will bear the new Nissan brand logo, making it the first European model to be produced with it and the latest to be introduced under the Nissan NEXT transformation plan, which prioritizes sustainable growth and profitability across the company’s global operations.

The all-new Townstar van version has been developed to perfectly meet the needs of customers like SMEs who are looking for versatility, convenience, space and cargo on top of a hands-free parking system for complex city parking.

The combi version of the all-new Townstar will support families on the go with vast smart storage options that go up to 775 litres. From refined seat and door trims to a modern centre console and instrument panel finish, the all-new Townstar’s cabin welcomes customers with passenger-car-like comfort.

The fully electric all-new Townstar will reflect aesthetic cues of Ariya, including signature standard LED headlamps and an aerodynamic front shield integrating an intricate Kumiko pattern and a fresh V-motion design with daytime running lamps…

Featuring up to 3.9m3 of cargo space with a swivelling bulkhead, the new compact van can transport two Euro pallets and up to 800kg of cargo with ease, while the powerful powertrains allow the vehicle to offer a 1,500kg towing capacity, adapting to each businesses’ specific requirements.

The cargo area integrates large sliding doors on the side which facilitate unloading the van and the possibility to have 60/40 French doors with 180 degree opening or a tailgate at the rear. It also includes smart storage solutions and a dedicated space for on-board office tools.

Nissan presenta la nueva furgoneta Townstar: un cambio de juego dentro del mercado de Vehículos Comerciales Ligeros (LCV)

Unfortunately none of the above tells me what I really want to know, the ins and outs of (dis)charging the Townstar! Since there is no mention of it I can only assume that initial deliveries of the Townstar will not incorporate the vehicle-to-grid technology familiar from the e-NV200. However the Townstar specification sheet at the end of the press release does include some charging information:

Battery Capacity ( Usable )44 kWh
Max. power90kW (122HP)
Max. torque245
Range estimationUp to 285 (pending homologation)
Charging type AC11 kw standard, or 22 kw optional
Charging type DC75  DC in CCS
Charging time DC0 to 80% 42 min
Battery coolingYes (with 22kW AC charger, or opt with 11kW)

If Nissan are working on incorporating V2G technology in the Townstar and/or the Ariya I wonder whether it will be AC or DC?

Last, but not necessarily least, here is a picture of the ICE Combi version of the Nissan Townstar:

Now I cannot help but wonder when we will be able to test drive one here in soggy South West England.

Legal Eagles Target Tesla Grid Scale Storage Down Under

According to a Reuters article yesterday:

Australian Energy Regulator (AER) has filed a lawsuit against Neoen SA (NEOEN.PA), saying the French firm’s Tesla “Big Battery” in South Australia did not provide backup power during four months in 2019 for which it had received payment.

Neoen said it was disappointed with AER’s decision. It did not comment on the actual allegations.

On-demand power from storage is critical for preventing blackouts in Australia which is increasingly dependent on wind and solar farms from which energy is not always available.

Neoen’s Hornsdale Power Reserve was the world’s biggest battery when it was switched on in 2017, built after Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk said his firm could prevent blackouts in South Australia with its “Megapack” batteries….

Tesla Powerpacks at Neoen wind farm in Hornsdale, South Australia September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Sonali Paul

AER said Hornsdale Power Reserve had offered to provide market services and was called on by the Australian Energy Market Operator to dispatch power in July to November 2019 during frequency disturbances – or power drops on the network – but that the energy was not supplied as needed.

“It is vital that generators do what they say they can do if we’re going to keep the lights on through the market’s transition to variable renewable generation,” said AER Chair Clare Savage.

The regulator is seeking fines and court costs for a “significant number of breaches” over the four-month period. Each breach of national electricity market rules carries a maximum penalty of A$100,000…

The AER action comes as Neoen faces potential delays with what will be its biggest battery in Australia, the 450 megawatt hour Victoria Big Battery, following a fire in one of its Tesla Megapacks.

Nissan/DREEV Announce Fleet V2G

A few days ago EDF announced in a press release that:

EDF, through EDF Group subsidiary DREEV, has launched a new commercial charging service using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology in the UK, in partnership with Nissan. This means businesses can support the grid by consuming low carbon energy, and progress towards their net zero and decarbonisation targets, whilst reducing their costs.

The V2G technology developed by DREEV, which is a joint venture between EDF and Nuvve – the global leader in V2G technology, allows for two-way energy flow; both recharging an EV’s battery when electricity is at its cheapest, and discharging excess energy to sell back into the grid.

The EDF V2G offer is available for fleet owners of Nissan’s LEAF and e-NV200 models and will allow fleet customers to achieve around £350 savings per charger each year, which equates to approximately 9,000 miles of driving charge per year[1].

EDF’s V2G business solution includes:

  • The supply and installation of a two-way connected compact 11kW charger capable of fully charging a Nissan LEAF, depending on the battery model, in just 3 hours and 30 minutes – 50 per cent faster than a standard charger – with integrated DREEV technology.
  • A dedicated DREEV smart phone application, to define the vehicles’ driving energy requirements, track their state of charge in real time, and control charging at any time

I’m not entirely sure that I agree with the copywriter’s assertion stating “Nuvve – the global leader in V2G technology” though. Take a look at the image accompanying the press release:

I’d swear I’ve seen that picture somewhere before. In the background can be seen a wallbox bearing the ABB logo. It looks an awful lot like the unit pictured in this recent ABB video:

Perhaps I’ve blinked and missed it, but I don’t recall seeing the announcement of Nuvve’s takeover of ABB?

The DREEV/Nissan announcement concludes with:

The V2G business solution is now available in the UK. Businesses that are interested should visit https://www.edfenergy.com/electric-cars/vehicle-grid for more information.

California ISO Urges Electricity Conservation

Midsummer’s Day is a few days away, and on the west coast of the United States things are heating up. Here is the surface temperature map for the western USA yesterday afternoon:

Those sort of temperatures mean that lots of air conditioning units are working hard, and consequently the California Independent System Operator (CAISO for short) called for a voluntary “Flex Alert” yesterday, in order to persuade its customers to voluntarily reduce electricity demand:

The desired aim seems to have been achieved, with the evening demand peak having been “shaved” somewhat, and with last year’s rolling blackouts averted so far in 2021:

Here’s how the differing sources of electricity supply coped:

Here’s an expanded view of the contribution of the ever expanding amount Californian battery storage to electricity supply during the evening demand peak:

The California heat wave is forecast to continue today, as is another high peak in demand:

And so:

According to the California ISO news release:

Consumers are asked to conserve energy tonight and tomorrow evening by:

  • Setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, if health permits
  • Avoiding using major appliances
  • Turning off all unnecessary lights Consumers are also encouraged to use fans for cooling, and to unplug unused electrical items.

To be as comfortable as possible during the Flex Alert hours, consumers can take these steps earlier in the day:

  • Pre-cool your home by lowering the thermostat
  • Use major appliances, like your dishwasher, and clothes washer and dryer
  • Close window coverings to keep your home or apartment cool
  • Charge electronic devices
  • Charge electric vehicles

The ISO is continuing to monitor weather and grid conditions and will have additional announcements as information becomes available.

The 2021 G7 Summit in Cornwall

The forthcoming summit of the G7 nations is taking place just down the road from the V2G UK office in North Cornwall. According to the G7 UK web site:

In June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will welcome fellow G7 leaders to one of the most beautiful parts of the UK: Carbis Bay in Cornwall.

Other parts of the region will also play a key role in the Summit, including neighbouring St Ives, Falmouth and Newquay airport.

With over 400 miles of coastline, Cornwall’s stunning landscape provides a perfect setting for world leaders to come together and discuss how to respond to global challenges like coronavirus and climate change.

Here’s one of my recent pictures of some of that coastline, including part of Cornwall’s industrial heritage and some large waves!

Climate change is top of the G7 agenda along with Covid-19, and that must mean that UK and global energy policy will be somewhere very near the top as well. Obviously I’ll be reporting on what transpires in Carbis Bay in a month’s time, but for now here’s some topical G7 “tech” news:

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5 Spots Left on Octopus Powerloop V2G Trial

The introduction to a recent article on the Octopus Electric Vehicles blog about their Powerloop vehicle-to-grid trial reads as follows:

Powerloop is providing a crucial insight into the viability of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), as well as helping improve the customer experience for the installation of other smart technologies. The project is run by Octopus Electric Vehicles in partnership with UK Power Networks, Energy Saving Trust, ENGIE EV Solutions, Open Energi, Guidehouse and our sister company, Octopus Energy, Here, we discuss how Powerloop works, why V2G is so important, and how learnings from this project are helping UK Power Networks improve the broader smart technology onboarding process!

What is V2G?

Put simply, V2G enables an electric vehicle (EV) owner to be both the generator and the consumer of energy, using bi-directional charging technology to allow the user to charge and discharge their EV. This means that, unlike household appliances that can only receive energy, such as a kettle, the car’s battery becomes an energy asset that can transfer energy back to the grid.

However our readers located in UK Power Networks’ service area might be most interested in the following exciting information?

Powerloop is V2G in action, and is still open to new participants (just five spots remain!). Combining the Nissan LEAF with the Wallbox Quasar V2G charger, Powerloop is gathering real world data to help show how V2G can be a valuable asset to the UK’s energy network by helping flatten peak grid demand and making the most of renewable energy whilst using an EV.

By all means read the Octopus article in full, but if you want one of the last available chances to get a Wallbox Quasar on your own wall as part of the Powerloop V2G trial get in touch with Octopus PDQ!

Volkswagen’s V2G Vision

Back in March 2019 I was in Amsterdam to watch Volkswagen’s Martin Römheld give the final keynote speech at the rEVolution conference:

Amongst many other things he said that:

For VW I can tell you, and I think you can read that from the papers and the news currently they’re really doing a paradigm shift. The top management is really turning around the company big time.

and then went on to outline VW’s ID series of electric vehicles:

Volkswagen ID.4 1ST Max

At the rEVolution after party I asked Martin whether Volkswagen had any ambitions by way of bidirectional power transfer. He dropped a heavy hint, but I was of course sworn to secrecy. Now at long last VW Development Board Member Thomas Ulbrich has revealed much more about those ambitions in an interview with German newspaper Handelsblatt. I’ve been hoping for a definitive English language version to appear, but no such luck. Hence what follows is aided by Google Translate.

According to Handelsblatt:

In order for a fleet of millions of EVs to be used as a new, flexible energy storage facility, electric cars must also be able to return the electricity to the grid at any time – they must be designed to be “bidirectional”. The VW group will be the first major manufacturer to start doing so next year.

I assume Handelsblatt must actually mean “the first major German manufacturer”, since on this side of the North Sea Japanese EV OEM Nissan certainly count as “major”, and they’ve been offering V2G capable vehicles for quite some time! Moving on we are told:

From 2022 onwards, every electric car from the Volkswagen Group that is based on the MEB (“Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten” but “modular electrification kit” according to Google) electrical platform can not only be charged with electricity but also return it to the grid. In addition to VW, the MEB is also used by the sister brands Audi , Skoda and Seat-Cupra.

The first generation of MEB models that Volkswagen has been delivering since autumn last year is not yet designed to be bidirectional. These cars can only charge. Volkswagen will be able to retrofit V2G to those cars with comparatively few technical changes and additional software.

Production should begin in December, and the bidirectional electric cars will go on sale after the turn of the year. At least 300,000 vehicles are likely to be manufactured at the VW plant in Zwickau alone in 2022.

Nissan does then get a mention, albeit a rather Deutschland centric one:

Nissan’s e-models have been able to charge bidirectionally as a standard feature since 2013. “The fact that this ability has not yet been exploited is solely due to the lack of relevant functions in the current charging stations,” said a Nissan spokeswoman.

But if the European industry leader opts for bidirectionality, then many other competitors will have to follow suit for competitive reasons alone. “Volkswagen is setting things in motion”, says Stefan Bratzel, professor at the Center of Automotive Management (CAM) at the Bergisch Gladbach University of Applied Sciences.

Other automakers are likely to present similar offers for the foreseeable future. Hyundai from Korea has already made a corresponding announcement.

We have recently covered that Hyundai V2x announcement in detail, and I have to say that I very much look forward to a wide variety of VW’s competitors shipping hundreds of thousands of V2G enabled electric vehicles beginning in 2022 or shortly thereafter.

However there remains the issue of that unfortunate “lack of relevant functions in the current charging stations”. Currently installed V2G capable charging stations use the Japanese CHAdeMO system, and even Nissan’s new Ariya EV has dropped that way of doing things here in Europe. Hence I cannot help but wonder how hundreds of thousands of VW MEB/ID compatible bidirectional charging stations are suddenly going to spring up along the highways and byways of Europe. And the United Kingdom too of course.

In conclusion, here is an infographic from Volkswagen’s current Energy Storage FAQ:

For some strange reason it bears a striking resemblance to our SaMDES banner at the top of this article. However in VW’s V2G vision the EV is outside the garage rather than inside!

Global Power System Transformation Consortium Announced

Imperial College announced in a news release yesterday that:

US and UK ministers launch a global effort – which features Imperial expertise – to speed up the energy transition.

An innovative public-private partnership to accelerate the clean energy transition by transforming our power systems has been formally launched, ahead of US President Joe Biden’s Earth Day climate summit.

The Global Power System Transformation Consortium (G-PST), which includes technical expertise from Imperial, was officially launched by the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Kwasi Kwarteng and US Secretary of the Department of Energy Jennifer Granholm, alongside CEOs of power system operators and institutions from around the world.

G-PST aims to enable the integration of renewable energy sources into power systems at an unprecedented scope and scale, contributing to a 50 per cent reduction in emissions of all pollutants over the next ten years.

The Global PST Consortium Action Areas

Kwasi Kwarteng pointed out that:

Tackling climate change requires international cooperation and if we want to successfully achieve cost-efficient, green energy networks that work for everyone, we need to work together.

As a world leader in both technological innovation and the renewable energy market, I am delighted that the UK is co-hosting the launch of this new consortium, uniting the very best of business, research and academia to bring world-class renewable energy to the grid – key for economic growth, job creation, the climate and building back greener.

Unfortunately Kwasi didn’t go into detail about exactly how “building back greener” would “bring world-class renewable energy to the grid “, desirable as that undoubtedly is.

However some academics and engineers are members of the Global PST Consortium:

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Hyundai Announce V2B Partnership with We Drive Solar

The press release is in Dutch, so I’m relying on Google Translate somewhat for this article! There is no explicit mention of V2x technology, but lets read between the lines:

Hyundai and mobility provider We Drive Solar announced on April 13th a strategic partnership to provide housing projects with the energy system of the future.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a hint of vehicle-to-building already. Moving on:

Hyundai is well on its way to becoming a top 3 manufacturer of zero-emission vehicles worldwide, with a specific focus on 100% electric propulsion. By 2040, Hyundai aims to have its global car line-up fully electrified, aiming for a market share of 8 to 10 percent of the global EV market.

In addition to a leading role in electric driving, Hyundai also wants to accelerate the transition to sustainable mobility and optimally unburden customers with the help of innovative services, fully in line with the brand’s Progress for Humanity philosophy. In that context, Hyundai is expanding its e-mobility activities in the Netherlands significantly this year. Hyundai recently announced its partnership with Jedlix, the market leader in smart charging. Starting today, Hyundai is adding a new chapter in accelerating sustainable mobility by announcing its partnership with We Drive Solar.

Smart charging, sometimes referred to as V1G, is part of the equation but what about smart discharging? The press release continues:

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