A consortium of industry and academic partners will develop vehicle-2-grid technologies in a three-year project to advance the electric vehicle-charging infrastructure on UK roads, the University of Warwick announced on February 23.
The £5.6 million ($8 million) project, funded by Innovate UK, is due to begin exploring the technology’s viability and worth to businesses and EV owners next month, led by James Marco, reader in vehicle electrification and energy storage at WMG at the university.
The EV-elocity consortium will build a techno-economic model of how V2G will be viable within the UK, as well as a project to demonstrate and develop the technology across UK locations, including airports and business parks.
Marco’s team will analyse real world battery usage data from electric fleet vehicles to develop a model of how battery degradation occurs in an EV pack within a V2G context. The analysis will underpin new methods of optimizing a vehicle’s battery system.
Marco, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to study the possible benefits of V2G technology in the real-world and to construct a holistic model of how best to optimize the ever-increasing integration of electric vehicles and our energy infrastructure.”
V2G technology enables plug-in electric vehicles to intelligently communicate with the power grid — potentially returning excess electricity back to the grid while the vehicle is parked or inactive, which can power buildings and infrastructure.
Recent research from WMG found that V2G technology might be able to improve lithium ion battery life in EVs.
The EV-elocity consortium includes US consulting firm AT Kearney, Honda UK, University of Nottingham, The Peel Group, Cenex, Ecar club, Brixworth Technology, Leeds City Council and Nottingham City Council.
In an exclusive interview, ESJ spoke to James Marco about the project’s goals, how V2G technology can enhance battery performance and the role AI and virtual power plants will have in its adoption.
Can you tell us a little about the project’s goals?
The overall project is a demonstration scheme, so there will be real world people and vehicles using V2G going around. From the university’s point of view the interesting thing is you have real world data. We will be collecting the user behaviour and how they use the vehicle and integrate that into the grid, such as when will the vehicle’s battery be presented to the grid. From this we will study and extrapolate the wider impact of V2G technology.
How do you see the complex web of vehicles being managed at grid level?
The idea that most people seem to be gravitating toward is the virtual power plant arrangement where it looks purely at where it can support your local smart grid, so at the 11kV system level. A VPP will aggregate different cars and batteries together.
In terms of how they do that depends on how smart the system is and the connection between it and vehicle, so in the simplest form the system could take a set amount of power from the vehicle’s battery. Then that opens up opportunities, such as the algorithm knowing when a vehicle is going to be used again so it can use more of the battery but ensure it’s at the right state of charge when needed.
Would this allow the motorist to have more control of the battery’s usage?
It comes down to connectivity of the system, but in theory the user could define what is their main requirement of the battery, and if they are happy to run it down to 30-40%. Also, if the system knows what kind of journey the vehicle will do, for example the Friday commute or potentially driving more on a Saturday, it can be more flexible in the use of energy.
Why is battery optimization important in V2G applications?
We are primarily looking at bettering the system and optimizing the charging and discharging of the battery to maximize the battery life because a battery’s warranty is an issue, especially for the manufacturer. Why would they let the vehicle battery be used in this way if they might have to replace it under warranty, so we are looking at battery optimization in the context of V2G usage.
How can V2G data increase a battery’s performance?
What people need to understand is there are different chemistries and form factors that all behave differently. One of the things that we have done recently is look at the impact of calendar aging. So you know the battery will degrade by increasing the charge throughput and, equally the battery will age simply by leaving it at a higher state of charge or temperature. So there might be the scenario where the vehicle is charged to its maximum and left overnight or the vehicle is left in a high state of charge overnight that will potentially degrade the battery more than if it’s discharged to its optimal state of charge to minimize its aging and is then cycled at that optimal state of charge.
WMG is investigating a wide range of chemistries and flavours of lithium ion, as well as lithium sulphur and silicon cells.
Could it smooth the energy duck curve?
It partly comes down to economics and what the controlling system is being asked to do. Using V2G technology you would assume with the correct level of intelligence and connectivity the vehicle would be charged at the most economical point and the power released at the most economical point. The other question is how do you make money out of this. But the actual real-world benefits of V2G have yet to be proven and quantified at scale, hence the UK government’s part funding of this project.