Bus garage in London now hosting ‘world’s largest’ V2G trial

A bus garage in North London has been fitted with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology and 100 buses adapted for bi-directional charging, as part of what is being described as the largest project of its kind in the world.

Bus garage in London now hosting ‘world’s largest’ V2G trial

100 of Go-Ahead London's buses have been retrofitted with bi-directional charging technology

The project, based at Northumberland Park and called Bus2Grid, is being led by SSE Enterprise and the Mayor of London’s office, with support from Go-Ahead London, Transport for London, BYD, Leeds University, UK Power Networks, Alexander Dennis and aggregator Origami.

From today (13 August), up to 28 double-decker buses with bi-directional chargers will be parked at the garage at any one time. The automated digital technology at the site ensures that the buses recharge when electricity demand is low and release energy back to the grid when demand is high, helping to balance the grid.

Grid balancing is widely seen as an important part of the energy transition, as the electrification of sectors such as heat and transport, compounded by population growth, will change demand patterns. At the same time, more renewables will come online, and the variability of output will need to be factored in.

When the bus garage is at capacity, the 28 buses will collectively provide 1MW of flexibility, the SSE Enterprise claims. As the trial continues, the organisations behind it will explore the business case for V2G charging and virtual power plants at scale in the bus industry, collecting data on commercial value, social benefits and energy and carbon impact.

London plays host to more than 9,000 buses and, while it is known that electrifying this entire fleet would have sizeable benefits in terms of air quality improvement and emissions reductions, the trial will seek the quantify the benefits of electric buses as part of a decarbonised smart public transport network.

The University of Leeds’ sustainable cities MSc programme leader Dr Steven Hall said: “Electrifying transport will have huge benefits for air quality in cities and for meeting our climate change commitments. Large electric vehicles like [buses] can also support the energy system, but this means creating new ways of working between energy utilities, grid managers, and transport providers. This project is creating new business models to make this happen.” 

Bus2Grid is being funded by BEIS, Innovate UK and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

Last year, TfL revealed that a total of 165 zero-emission buses were in operation around London. The capital has since integrated around 70 electric double-decker buses into its fleet. TfL has already ordered 20 hydrogen-powered buses from Wrightbus, which are being rolled out throughout the year. London has committed to procuring roughly 300 zero-emission buses by the end of 2020.

Charging ahead

The launch of Bus2Grid comes in the same week that Nissan marked the installation of 20 V2G chargers at its European Technical Centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire.

The auto giant is working with E.ON to develop new ‘smart’ mobility packages for business customers and sees trials of the chargers playing a key role in building the business case.

According to a recent study of consortium experts including Nissan, Energy Systems Catapult, Cenex, Western Power Distribution, Element Energy and Moixa, connecting EVs to the grid at scale could cut £270m a year off the cost of running the UK power system by 2030.

Nonetheless, V2G is still very much an emerging technology. Many firms are hoping that it will become increasingly prevalent as the Government progresses plans to address emissions from transport – the UK’s highest-emitting sector – in line with the 2050 net-zero target.

Sarah George

Comments (1)

  1. Zak Preston says:

    It will be interesting to see long term results of this V2G study with respect to impact on fleet operators primary role (i.e. transport), especially where the fleet requires a high availability (so not sitting (dis)charging or with sub-optimal battery capacity) and impact on battery replacement costs (if cycling from providing grid flexibility reduces performance more quickly)

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