The Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid (V2G) trial, a project of Western Power Distribution (WPD) and CrowdCharge that will demonstrate how electric vehicles (EVs) can provide V2G services, has announced Flexitricity as its first energy partner.
Flexitricity aggregates lots of distributed power generators as well as sites which consume power, in order to balance the load on the electricity grid. The EVs that are part of the Electric Nation trial will be used to put power back into the electricity grid when required and will be charged during periods of excess supply in the system.
Flexitricity is the pioneer of customer-side flexibility in the GB electricity market, with over 12 years of operational experience. It was the first open-market demand response aggregator in Britain, the first company of its type to enter the GB Capacity Market, and the first electricity supplier to bring business energy customers into the Balancing Mechanism.
The Balancing Mechanism is one of the main tools National Grid ESO uses to balance supply and demand on the electricity system in real-time. Through the Balancing Mechanism, flexibility providers (such as Flexitricity) can offer to increase or decrease electricity generation or demand of their aggregated assets (e.g. connected EV V2G chargers) to adjust power levels to help balance the system. During the initial stages of the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project, Flexitricity will be simulating the conditions of the Balancing Mechanism to gather valuable data and explore the potential for EVs to contribute to this important energy system service.
Demand Side Response or Demand Side Flexibility involves participants being financially incentivised to reduce or increase their energy use to provide flexibility to National Grid ESO or Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) as and when they need it. As well as filling in for shortfalls or rapid spikes in national demand, providers taking part in demand side response can also be incentivised to use excess green energy from the grid, for example on a windy day.
Aggregation of assets is the key to unlocking EV flexibility as it allows assets with low capacity – such as EVs – to provide grid services.
Electric Nation is different to other V2G projects because it is using up to five different energy partners 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 with different energy suppliers.
A selection of 25 applicants on the Electric Nation V2G trial will be offered the opportunity to join the project with the Flexitricity and CrowdCharge ‘energy optimisation with grid services’ proposition. Within this proposition group, potential participants can join with any electricity supplier and on any electricity tariff. However, the best results will be gained from participants with a time of use and export tariff.
EV drivers will inform the CrowdCharge platform to state when they next need the car and how much energy they will need. The first priority for CrowdCharge is to ensure these requirements are met. People are often plugged in for over 12 hours overnight, yet they may only need 1-2 hours of charge on average each night. This allows considerable time and flexibility to fit in the EV charging.
The project will be optimising charging for Flexitricity’s proposition group in the following way:
- If the EV driver has a time of use tariff, the CrowdCharge platform will schedule charging to reduce electricity bills for the EV driver by using electricity to charge the car at cheaper times, and in doing so CrowdCharge will also be able to reduce the carbon footprint of the household.
- CrowdCharge can further reduce bills where a time-of-use tariff is active by exporting energy from the EV battery to power the home when electricity is more expensive, for example during the early evening.
- For those who have solar PV panels on their property, CrowdCharge will aim to divert as much solar electricity to the car as possible, with any surplus energy being exported to the grid.
- The CrowdCharge platform will periodically receive requests from Flexitricity to see if the EV charging pattern in the group can be adjusted to help balance the electricity grid. The CrowdCharge platform will reschedule EV charging accordingly if it can do so while ensuring the EV has sufficient charge for the next journey.
Andy Lowe, Director at Flexitricity, comments: “Flexitricity is pleased to be a flexibility optimisation partner for the Electric Nation V2G project. We are offering a pioneering opportunity for EV drivers to help balance the load on the electricity grid, and to be rewarded for doing this. This is providing a vision of the future when millions of EVs will be able to provide services to the grid, resulting in cost savings for car owners, reduced infrastructure spending for DNOs and energy generators, as well as helping the country to achieve its Net Zero CO2 targets.”
Electric Nation is recruiting 100 Nissan EV owners in the WPD licence areas of the Midlands, South West and South Wales to take part in the trial of Vehicle to Grid smart charging technology. Currently, only Nissan EVs can be used for V2G charging due to their CHAdeMO technology.
The trial is offering free installation of the V2G smart chargers worth £5,500 to Nissan EV drivers who live in the three WPD regions. CrowdCharge is recruiting 100 people for the trial to help DNOs and others to understand how V2G charging could work with their electricity networks.
The V2G trial follows the first Electric Nation project from 2018/19 which at the time was the world’s largest EV smart charging trial. The trial captured data from more than two million hours of car charging, providing real life insight into people’s habits when charging their vehicles.
Paul Jewell, DSO Development Manager at Western Power Distribution adds: “Electric Nation was an invaluable project for us which gave us the knowledge and confidence to rethink the assumptions we made about EV charging. It has already allowed more EVs to connect to our network quickly and without upgrades. The new Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project takes this learning a stage further and will demonstrate how EVs can be used to support the grid. Understanding how Flexitricity might use this resource to provide grid services will help us build networks which are ready for a Net Zero future.”
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 over the one-year trial period from March 2021 to March 2022. Over 400 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.
- 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.
For more information and to apply to join the project visit www.electricnation.org.uk
Tim is an original member and founder of World Of Renewables. Since 2005, he has steered WoR to an industry leader within the field of renewable energy news reporting. Tim is now Vice-Chairman of WOREA and played a major role in the merger with WREA.