Gamification to help electric vehicles unlock Britain’s smart energy grid?

Electric Vehicle

A new £400,000 government-funded project is being launched to investigate whether gamification, including virtual currencies, competitions and raffles, can encourage electric car drivers to engage with Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technologies – and be a part of Britain’s smart energy grid future.

There are 150,000 electric cars on the road in Britain.  Through harnessing their batteries to store and release energy when it’s most needed by the grid, electric vehicles (EVs) could play a big role in a smart, green and more stable energy grid in Britain.

The challenge will be how to get EV drivers to sign up and be a part of the solution, allowing energy companies and the National Grid to harness EV batteries, and even adapting their travel plans.

The project will look to answer the behavioural questions on how to overcome that challenge – and will consider the effectiveness of a range of innovative consumer engagement methods and behaviour change techniques, focusing on mobile phone applications and the use of gamification.

It will also analyse the business case for V2G technologies and their impact on the National Grid.

The new project is a partnership between Britain’s greenest energy company, Ecotricity, Gengame, EnAppSys, Newcastle University and Northern Powergrid, and received almost £300,000 from Innovate UK, with additional funding coming from the partners themselves.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: “Electric vehicles have been central to our view of the future for the last decade, not just for their potential to clean up the air we breathe but also for their potential role in the Smart Grid that we need to build to deliver an energy future that is affordable and clean.

“Technology is at the heart of delivering this but it has to engage energy users. This study will help us better understand the relationship between people and technology.”

Stephane Lee-Favier, CEO of Gengame, said: “GenGame has over 3 years’ experience leveraging gamification and behavioural science techniques in our mobile applications to engage consumers with the smart grid.

“We see a lot of great work on demonstrating V2G technology, but not always considering why a consumer would want such technology in their home, or how to address some of the concerns they might have: such as the impact on the life of their expensive car battery. We aim to solve these problems as part of this project.”

Phil Hewitt, director of EnAppSys, said: “EnAppSys has been providing information and analytics to companies active in the electricity market for 15 years, breaking down barriers to entry for smaller companies to the market.

“We see this project as an opportunity to continue our work in democratising the energy market by allowing ordinary consumers to engage directly in the market and to facilitate the transition to a decentralised, clean future energy system.”

The project 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. The full partners involved in the project are:

  • Ecotricity – Britain’s greenest energy company. Ecotricity built and runs the Electric Highway, Britain’s leading electric car charging network. The company also offers the Fully Charged bundle, an electric vehicle charging offer that includes the cheapest EV tariff on the market, an exclusively discounted Rolec home charger, and half price charging on the Electric Highway.
  • GenGame Ltd – Which uses gamification and mobile gaming tools and techniques to deliver engagement with energy.
  • EnAppSys – Independent energy market monitoring specialists.
  • Newcastle University – Newcastle University is a leading UK academic institution engaged in cutting-edge research, as part of academic and industrial collaborations around electric vehicles, flexible smart infrastructure and integrated energy systems.
  • Northern Powergrid – which distributes electricity to 3.9 million homes and businesses across the region through its network of more than 63,000 substations and some 60,000 miles of overhead power lines and underground cables spanning 9,650 square miles.