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EVs can be a solution to increasing demand on electricity network, says WPD

Western Power Distribution (WPD) says that electric vehicles (EVs) could be a solution to increasing demand on the electricity network and is demonstrating this through its Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid (V2G) project.

In partnership with CrowdCharge, WPD’s Electric Nation project is recruiting 100 Nissan EV owners in the Midlands, South West England and South Wales to take part in the trial of V2G smart charging technology.

EVs provide a nationwide battery storage resource, which can feed electricity back into the grid during times of peak demand, says the WPD.

Roger Hey, WPD’s DSO systems and projects manager, trialled V2G charging before EV drivers were invited to take part in the Electric Nation project, and said he was amazed to see how much energy an EV battery could store.

Hey said: “One of the latest Nissan LEAFs with a 62 kWh battery would be able to put energy back into the grid that would be the equivalent of powering a house for days. Multiply this by millions of EVs across the UK and there is the potential for huge storage which can mitigate the peaks in electricity demand. And people could be rewarded for offering their EVs as a service to the grid.”

Hey says V2G is a ‘huge opportunity’ to reduce the extent and the cost of upgrades to the electricity network and the building of new electricity generation.

Charge point provider Pod Point recently told Fleet News, that while time of use tariffs which target periods of low demand overnight work, the cost of generation has always been more variable and that “this variability is increasing markedly with the proliferation of renewables”.

James McKemey, head of insights at Pod Point, said: “As more renewable energy comes online, there will now be a new variable - high and low supply. With renewable energy like wind and solar proving to be very inexpensive and extremely low carbon, we want to move consumption to match these periods, wherever possible.

“Adaptive pricing tariffs that relay a more accurate picture of the cost of electricity are now available. With increasing regularity, price will go negative - particularly in the somewhat artificial low-demand environment of lockdown. Customers are being paid to consume electricity.

“This reflects the need for the electricity system to find a home for generation that would otherwise need to be constrained.”

Currently, only Nissan EVs can be used for V2G charging due to their CHAdeMO technology. The majority of EVs have the CCS charging system, which is due to be V2G compatible by 2025.

The Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project is offering the free installation of V2G smart chargers worth £5,500 to Nissan EV drivers.

CrowdCharge is recruiting 100 people for the trial to help Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and others to understand how V2G charging could work with their electricity networks.

Over 300 EV drivers have applied to join Electric Nation so far, however recruitment remains open to ensure the project secures 100 participants that meet all the eligibility criteria.

The V2G trial follows the first Electric Nation project from 2018/19 providing real life insight into people’s habits when charging their vehicle. The trial provided data from over two million hours of car charging, revealing 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.

Trial applicants:

• 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.

Although the application process for the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project is open, the timescale for charger installations is subject to confirmation based on government advice in relation to Covid-19.

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