WPD launches Vehicle to Grid (V2G) trial

Network operator Western Power Distribution (WPD) has launched a new Vehicle to Grid (V2G) trial to help understand how electric vehicle (EV) charging could benefit the electricity network.

The trial, which is being run in partnership with CrowdCharge, is the next phase of WPD’s Electric Nation EV project.

The EV trial is looking to recruit domestic V2G users by offering the free installation of smart chargers worth £5,500 to Nissan EV drivers in the region.

According to WPD, the rapid growth in the numbers of EVs will mean more demand on local electricity networks if EVs are all plugged in at the same time, such as during the 5-7pm evening peak. Smart charging, which allows management of the time when EV charging occurs – as trialled by the original Electric Nation project – will help to avoid this situation.

V2G charging is said to be more effective than smart charging due to its ability to link EVs together and put significant levels of energy back into the grid at peak times, much like a huge decentralised power station.

This can help to reduce the grid’s need for additional energy generation, either through fossil fuels or renewable energy, at peak times.

To undertake the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid trial, CrowdCharge is recruiting 100 people to trial state-of-the-art domestic V2G smart charging to help Distribution Network Operators (DNOs), like WPD, to understand how V2G charging could work with their electricity networks.

Although the application process for the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project is now open, the timescale for charger installations will depend on government guidance in relation to Covid-19.

Electric Nation is different to other V2G projects because it is using up to five different energy suppliers instead of just one. 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 by different energy suppliers.

In the trial each supplier will use their chargers to test their various energy services utilising CrowdCharge’s demand management charger platform, which provides optimised charging sessions.

Roger Hey, WPD’s DSO systems and projects manager, said: “The energy industry has to plan long-term, so it is urgent that we continue working to find the practical solutions to meet the government’s net-zero target. That is why we have begun recruitment for the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project now.

“V2G charging has the potential to transform how networks approach the challenge of keeping millions of EVs charged and moving. To introduce up to 38 million EVs to the UK network over the coming years would create great strain on the system, the equivalent of adding the electrical energy of London 14 times. By harnessing flexible systems and introducing V2G charging, it means that we can build a far more efficient and flexible network that doesn’t require billions of investment and a huge uplift in capacity.

“However, I would like to reassure everyone that we will not be visiting customers’ homes to install equipment in the near future. There are a number of steps we have to go through before we reach that stage. These will take several months and are all carried out remotely.”

Mike Potter, CEO of CrowdCharge, added: “Vehicle to Grid charging is a great concept, but it hasn’t yet been trialled sufficiently on Britain’s electricity networks to enable it to be rolled out on a country-wide basis – hence the need for this project. This trial will study the real-world effects of V2G and look to provide a smart solution to provide management of electric vehicle charging. The project can provide an important insight into how the market and the DNO can operate for maximum benefit for all customers.”

The V2G trial follows the first Electric Nation trial in 2018/19 which was the world’s largest EV smart charging trial at the time of its launch, providing real life insight into people’s habits when charging their vehicle. The trial provided data from more than two million hours of car charging, revealing the 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. Recruitment will take place from June 2020.

For more information and to apply to join the project visit www.electricnation.org.uk

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