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By 2050, up to 45% of households will actively provide Vehicle to Grid (V2G) services, according to National Grid ESO’s Future Energy Scenarios, published in July 2020. But will the average Electric Vehicle driver be able
to use V2G charging over the next few years?

The rapid growth in the numbers of electric vehicles on our roads will mean more demand on local electricity networks if EVs are all plugged in at the same time, such as during the peak between 5pm and 7pm. Smart charging, or ‘V1G’, which allows management of the time when EV charging occurs, will help to avoid this.

However, V2G charging will be more effective than smart charging. This is due to the ability to link EVs together and put significant levels of energy back into the grid at peak times, like a huge decentralised power station. V2G will therefore help to reduce the grid’s need for additional energy generation, typically supplied by fossil fuels at peak times, as well as reducing demand on electricity networks, and allowing EV drivers to use greener and cheaper electricity. And a key benefit of V2G is that the storage battery already exists in the consumer’s vehicle, reducing the need for additional investment.

Assuming that the technical challenges can be resolved, a whole-system analysis suggests V2G-related savings will be worth £3.5bn per year by 2040 (from ‘Blueprint for a Post-Carbon Society’, Imperial College/OVO).

Why our electric vehicles should be using vehicle to grid chargingHowever, at present only Nissan Battery Electric Vehicles  (Leaf and e-NV200 van) can use V2G due to their CHAdeMO charging technology. Virtually all other EVs instead use the Combined Charging System technology; the body promoting CCS, CharIN, has said it will be 2025 before it can support V2G. The EV manufacturers also need to develop their own products and bring them to market.

So today, and seemingly for the next few years, V2G with BEVs in the UK is only possible with the Nissan Leaf and the Nissan e-NV200 van due to their CHAdeMO charging technology. And another barrier to take-up is that currently V2G chargers are expensive.

Therefore, there’s a need for V2G, but there’s also the potential inability of most EVs to use bidirectional charging technology over the coming five years.

So that actions can be taken to implement V2G technology ahead of time, Electric Nation, a Vehicle-to-Grid trial, is currently being delivered by Western Power Distribution in partnership with CrowdCharge.

Electric Nation is different from other V2G projects because, for the first time, it’s using not one, but up to five different energy suppliers. This means that the trial is a more realistic simulation of a future world in which many streets
will have a number of EVs using V2G chargers operated in different ways by a range of energy suppliers.

It’s hoped that the learning from Electric Nation will help the automotive, charging and energy industries to bring V2G to market more quickly.

A solution to the expected delay due to EVs with CCS not being able to use V2G charging may come in the form of disruptive technology that isn’t currently on the radar – with companies such as Tesla having a demonstrable track record in this area. If V2G is both  standard and user-friendly in an EV, it will be much easier for consumers to embrace the technology.

However, unless the UK takes action following projects such as Electric Nation, which are trialling and raising awareness of V2G, we could fall behind with exploiting the technology.

For more information about the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project visit www.electricnation.org.uk