Your next car could support the electricity grid with a "Vehicle-to-Grid" system


EV charging symbol on the ground

Imperial College London are part of a new £9.8m project to allow electric vehicles to support the country's electricity grid.

Imperial College London is working with Nissan and five other partners from academia and industry to investigate using electric vehicles as flexible energy storage for the UK’s electricity grid.

This project will provide us with a detailed understanding of how flexibility from EVs can help the system reduce carbon emissions at low cost for the customers.

– Professor Goran Strbac

Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

The idea of integrating electric vehicles with the electricity grid, known as Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), has been gaining traction recently. The principle is that electric vehicle (EV) owners can charge the battery during low-demand, cheap tariff periods but during high demand times they can feed the electricity stored in the vehicle’s battery back to the grid.

Using V2G technologies would help reduce strain on the grid and could generate additional revenue for the EV owner. It would also help improve the amount of renewable sources in the UK’s energy mix.

The team behind e4Future are creating a large-scale system to test the commercial value of V2G for companies that run a fleet of electric vehicles. This demonstrator will include collecting data from 1,000 individual charging points to understand the technical characteristics of vehicle to grid charging, for both the vehicles and the electricity network.

“Our previous work has clearly demonstrated that in order to increase the share of renewables the production and consumption of electricity will need to become more flexible,” says Professor Goran Strbac, of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, “V2G is one of the most promising flexible technologies to emerge with an increased uptake of EVs. This project will provide us with a detailed understanding of how flexibility from EVs can help the system reduce carbon emissions at low cost for the customers.”

EV being chargedThe timing is crucial because the current number of EVs on our roads is quite low. However it is estimated there will need to be more than two million electric vehicles on the UK’s roads by 2030 to meet the UK’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions. Understanding how V2G can be integrated before there is widespread adoption of EVs makes planning a support infrastructure easier.

If even only a million EVs are plugged into the grid using a 10kW V2G charger, and each EV battery can store 40kWh then this offers a potential energy storage resource of approximately 40GWh and around 10GW of power capacity. This is significantly bigger than any energy storage system currently installed or planned. Ensuring this is used properly will make it easier to build a reliable, flexible low-carbon energy system.

The e4Future project is part of a wider £30m initiative sponsored by the government to support 21 projects in the area. It will run from 1 April 2018 for 3 years. The full list of partners is Imperial College London, Nissan, NUVVE, National Grid, UK Power Networks, Northern Powergrid and Newcastle University.


Neasan O'Neill

Neasan O'Neill
Faculty of Engineering

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