Western Power Distribution (WPD), the electricity distribution network operator for the Midlands, South West and Wales, has launched the next phase of its Electric Nation project with a new Vehicle to Grid (V2G) trial in partnership with Marlow, Buckinghamshire-based CrowdCharge.
The UK is among Europe’s largest markets for electric vehicle sales. Hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles are tipped to account for more than 10 per cent of car registrations in the United Kingdom in 2020, with charging times and high costs associated with the purchase of a new electric vehicle are among the main concerns among new car intenders in the United Kingdom.
Projections by National Grid suggest that the UK stock of EVs could reach between 2.7 and 10.6 million by 2030 and could rise as high as 36 million by 2040.
Western Power Distribution’s electric vehicle trial is opening up recruitment for domestic V2G users by offering free installation of smart chargers worth £5,500 to Nissan electric vehicle (EV) drivers who live in the three regions.
The rapid growth in the adoption of electric vehicles will mean more demand on local electricity networks if EVs are all plugged in at the same time, such as during the peak between 5pm and 7pm in the evening.
Smart charging, which allows management of the time when EV charging occurs will help to avoid this situation.
However, V2G charging will be more effective than smart charging. This is due to the ability to link EVs together and put significant levels of energy back into the grid at peak times, like a huge decentralised power station. This will help to reduce the grid’s need for additional energy generation, either through fossil fuels or renewable energy, at peak times. V2G charging will help to transform EVs from being seen as a challenge in relation to grid capacity issues to being a solution as an additional source of energy.
To undertake the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project, CrowdCharge is recruiting 100 people to trial domestic V2G smart charging to help Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and others to understand how V2G charging could work with their electricity networks.
Although the application process for the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project is now open, the timescale for charger installations is subject to confirmation based on government advice in relation to COVID-19.
Western Power Distribution says that Electric Nation is different to other V2G projects because it is using up to five different energy suppliers instead of just one, making the trial a more realistic simulation of a future world in which many streets will have a number of EVs using V2G chargers operated by different energy suppliers.
In the Electric Nation trial, each supplier will use their chargers to test their various energy services using CrowdCharge’s demand management charger platform, which provides optimised charging sessions.
Roger Hey, Western Power Distribution’s DSO Systems and Projects Manager, says: “The energy industry has to plan long-term, so it is urgent that we continue working to find the practical solutions to meet the government’s net zero target. That is why we have begun recruitment for the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project now.
“V2G charging has the potential to transform how networks approach the challenge of keeping millions of EVs charged and moving. To introduce up to 38 million EVs to the UK network over the coming years would create great strain on the system, the equivalent of adding the electrical energy of London 14 times. By harnessing flexible systems and introducing V2G charging, it means that we can build a far more efficient and flexible network that doesn’t require billions of investment and a huge uplift in capacity.
“However, I would like to reassure everyone that we will not be visiting customers’ homes to install equipment in the near future. There are a number of steps we have to go through before we reach that stage. These will take several months and are all carried out remotely.”
Mike Potter, CEO of CrowdCharge, added: “Vehicle to grid charging is a great concept, but it hasn’t yet been trialled sufficiently on Britain’s electricity networks to enable it to be rolled out on a country-wide basis – hence the need for this project. This trial will study the real-world effects of V2G and look to provide a smart solution to provide management of electric vehicle charging. The project can provide an important insight into how the market and the DNO can operate for maximum benefit for all customers.”
The V2G trial follows the first Electric Nation trial from 2018/19 which, at the time, was the world’s largest EV smart charging trial, providing real life insight into people’s habits when charging their vehicle. The trial provided data from more than two million hours of car charging, revealing the user habits on timings of charge, where and for how long, as well as the impact of different tariffs.
By plugging in at specified times and putting energy back into the grid, active participants of the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project are expected to earn a minimum reward up to the monetary value of £120, available over the one-year trial period from March 2021 to March 2022. Recruitment will take place from this month.
- Must be resident in the Western Power Distribution (WPD) licence area (Midlands, South West and South Wales)
- Must have a Nissan EV with a battery capacity of at least 30kWh or more
- Need to have the vehicle until the end of the trial (March 2022)
- Need to have off-road parking
- Will use the CrowdCharge mobile app to manage charging
- May need to switch to a new energy tariff if required by their assigned project energy supplier
- May need to have a new smart meter put in/updated as part of the project participation.
- Western Power Distribution (WPD) is the project DNO
- CrowdCharge is leading the project
- DriveElectric which is based in Henley, Oxfordshire, is helping with recruitment of trial participants
- EA Technology, based in Cheshire, is modelling the network impact