UK distribution operator dips toe into V2G technology

Published on: February 8, 2018 10:50 amBy: Jade Beevor


Distribution operator UK Power Networks announced on January 23 it is to launch four vehicle-to-grid (V2G) projects to demonstrate how electric vehicles can be used for peak shaving and possibly deferring reinforcement costs.

The projects, in the south east and east of England as well as London, will look at how the technology can use discharges from an EV battery for residential power during peak periods, and then recharging the EV battery when demand is low.

The four V2G projects are:

  • Bus2Grid: Supporting a project to turn a 30-bus garage into the first of its kind in the UK, a 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

A spokesperson from UKPN told ESJB that the projects would use a new type of smart chargers and software algorithms rather than AI or block-chain technology.

This will be developed through a consortium of manufacturers, power industry operators, and academic partners that won £11 million for the project through Innovate UK government funding.

The spokesman said: “It’s not block-chain or AI but there will be new technology. V2G needs smart charging that can connect and control the bi-directional flow of power at charge points, which can then pass on data to us or third party aggregators.

“It’s not necessarily beyond block-chain or AI, just different. We do use AI and are in the early days of looking at block-chain, so those things will happen. But V2G smart chargers will be able to control power flow on chargers and power electronics.

“It will also use a technology platform with algorithms that can co-ordinate the different charge points. So if you have a fleet of a thousand cars the software will be able to manage the flow of power in and out of those charge points.”

The technology could defer system upgrade costs because fundamentally peak shaving services means the company needed to put less copper in the ground, build less sub-stations or defer work for a few years or removing reinforcement costs.

The need for V2G technology comes after the UK government announced it would ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040.

UKPN has more than 30,000 EVs connected to its networks and believes that by 2030 that figure will rise to between 1.2 million to 1.9 million.

The project is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, and will be delivered by Innovate UK.

Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UKPN said there were tremendous opportunities to explore how electricity networks could use any spare capacity in EV batteries.

“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 while ensuring you have enough energy for your next day’s commute. We’re innovating to keep our customers moving at the lowest possible cost,” he said.

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