Costain launches UK vehicle-to-grid project

Construction and civil engineering firm Costain has announced it is investigating the business case for the development of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) energy infrastructure in London, in the same week that it completed a study on the role of alternative-fuelled vehicles in creating on-site and supply chain carbon reductions.

Costain has established a new year-long project that will look at the feasibility of installing a V2G scheme in west London that can provide energy from vehicle batteries to the National Grid at peak times when it needs to balance local supply and demand.

The Integrated Transport and Smart Energy Solutions for Major Urban Developments (ITSES) project will take place in Old Oak Common, an area expected to provide 55,000 new jobs over the next 15 years, and widely touted to become a low-carbon ‘smart city’ development.

Costain will be working with Cenex, a not-for-profit low emission vehicle research and consultancy organisation, to assess the long-term carbon savings and develop a commercial business case for the installation of V2G infrastructure.

Costain project leader Lara Young said: “We’ll be using our expertise and experience within infrastructure and Cenex’s leading technical knowledge of charge point and integrated energy infrastructure to look at how feeding energy back into the grid from a significant number of low-emission electric vehicles can provide environmental, economic and social benefits.

Costain and Cenex suggest that a successful implementation could lead to a large-scale deployment included in the future infrastructure development plans of the region.

Fuel efficiency trials

This news came in the same week that Costain completed a year-long project, funded by Innovate UK, which involved a number of trials exploring how hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) could play their part in saving fuel and reducing operational emissions.  

A number of trials at Costain sites saw telematics used to monitor the fuel efficiency and productivity of cars and vans. According to Costain, one particular trial at the firm’s central London site – dedicated to delivering the Crossrail infrastructure project – created “significant savings” in finances and fuel consumption.

Costain states that it has now devised a methodology to determine where low-carbon vehicles could replace diesel vehicles. “A series of steps examines factors such as mileage and type of fuel and looks at how the alternative technologies measure up,” project leader Chris Hills said.

Transformative technology

Industry experts have commented on the “phenomenally transformative” opportunity of the automotive, energy and ICT industries working together to develop V2G storage systems – a concept being rolled out by TeslaNissan and BMW among other carmakers. 

According to Nissan, there will be more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations than petrol stations in the UK within four years. This V2G charging concept provides a glimpse into the future of a fully-synchronous vehicle, energy and infrastructure system, which Nissan says could “transform the way we consume energy”, cutting costs, providing cleaner energy and stabilising the electricity grid in the process.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has warned that the large scale roll-out of electric cars on EU roads will have to be generated to power the vehicles which could have its own impact on global warming.

George Ogleby

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