Open Energi says its research shows the potential for EVs to efficiently support renewables, reduce stress on the grid and balance electricity supply and demand.

The study predicts that with an estimated EVs on the road by 2020, smart charging could unlock up to 550MW and 1.3GW of turn-up and turn-down flexibility respectively at different times of the day. By 2030, this rises to 3GW of turn-up and 8GW of turn-down flexibility respectively.

Open Energi strategy and innovation lead Dago Cedillos said: “The electrification of transport is happening faster than anyone expected and EVs are set to have a significant impact on infrastructure, systems and markets.

“There has been a lot of attention given to the ‘worst-case’ scenarios but smart charging technology means EVs can be managed to the benefit of the system, and help accelerate our transition to a more reliable, affordable and sustainable energy future.”

Grid stability

The research comes a day after the Chancellor put aside £400m for a new charging infrastructure fund, and a further £40m in charging R&D. During his Budget speech, Philip Hammond said the EV transition “needs to come as soon as possible for our planet”.

As more drivers use EV charging in the upcoming years, this will inevitably have a knock-on effect on the UK’s electricity demand. Open Energi warns of a double-digit percentage increase in consumption if all this energy is consumed during peak periods, an outcome which could put local networks under strain to meet surges in power demand.

Smart charging technology, which enables EVs to outside peak period without disrupting the network, is cited by Open Energi as an asset for grid stability. The research notes that cars could help to absorb energy during periods of oversupply, and ease down demand during times of undersupply.

But this will only be possible so long as it does not impact on user-experience, Open Energi insists.

“Smart charging can only happen with the consent of the driver, and drivers will only consent if their car is charged and ready to go when they need it,” Cedillos continued.

“A combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and data insight can help to automate charging without affecting user experience, so that the technology can learn and respond to changing patterns of consumer behaviour and deliver an uninterrupted driver experience. Getting this right is key to aligning the future of sustainable energy and transport.”

Selling to the grid

The UK Government recently announced it would invest £20m to support vehicle-to-grid (V2G) projects that allow EVs to provide demand-response services to the power grid.

Car manufacturers are exploring the potential for customers to sell energy to the grid from their EVs. Japanese car manufacturer Nissan last year developed 100 new V2G energy storage units in London. Nissan recently fitted its R&D facilities in Cranfield with its V2G concept, which it claims could generate 180MW of capacity if all 18,000 Nissan EVs in the UK were connected to the network.

George Ogleby

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