'World's largest' V2G trial finds that EV drivers could cut £725 off electricity bills

Ovo Energy and Cenex have wrapped up a three-year trial of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) chargers at UK homes and revealed that the technology could help motorists reduce electricity bills by up to £725 per year.

Pictured: The charging unit offered during the trial. Image: Ovo Energy

Pictured: The charging unit offered during the trial. Image: Ovo Energy

The firms first began the trial, which covered 320 homes, in 2018. V2G technologies of various kinds, programmed to provide grid balancing services through Ovo Energy’s Kaluza smart energy platform, were offered to motorists with electric vehicle (EV) models including the Nissan Leaf and e-NV200.

On average, it was found that individuals with one-way smart chargers saved £120 on their annual electricity bill, with this figure rising to £340 for basic V2G charging. When the Kaluza smart platform was programmed to offer different response patterns, the savings benefit rose to up to £725.

Ovo Energy and Cenex surveyed the participants during and after the trial, finding that it “alleviated the vast majority of participants’ concerns regarding V2G technology” Common worries included the reliability of the technology and the impact of V2G on battery life and range.

However, some concerns remain. Many participants said they wanted carmakers to do more to ensure that models are V2G compatible, to give motorists a variety of options when they choose their next car. Also, most participants said hardware and installation costs – paid for under the trial by the UK Government – would likely be prohibitive if they had to pay themselves.

The average cost of hardware and installation, Ovo Energy and Cenex claim, is currently £3,700 higher in the UK than for a regular smart EV charger. Trial participants said that bringing this down to £1,000 would encourage uptake, as the payback period would then be five years at most.

“Balancing electricity supply and demand is becoming increasingly challenging as we ramp up generation from intermittent renewables and electrify transport,” Kaluza’s head of flexibility Conor Maher-McWilliams said.

V2G is a compelling example of how intelligent electric car charging can create significant financial rewards for customers while enhancing the resilience of the grid as we transition to net-zero. The trial has provided some of the earliest insights into how the technology works in the real world and what is needed for it to be rolled out at scale. The V2G opportunity is a hugely exciting one which we are actively exploring here in the UK and internationally.”

Charging ahead

V2G is still an emerging area in the smart, flexible energy space, but the technology is rapidly gaining traction among businesses and policymakers.

The UK Government is investing £20m to support V2G projects as part of its ambition to ensure that EV drivers are never more than 30 miles from a charging point. Energy Networks Association - the industry body representing all major energy network operators in the UK -  has also updated its routemap to embed net-zero alignment, including V2G collaboration.

In the private sector, one of the latest announcements was from Nissan. The carmaker has installed 20 V2G chargers at its European Technical Centre in Cranfield, as it works to develop new 'smart' mobility packages for business customers. But uptake, in the UK at least, seems to be most pronounced in the public sector.

Last year, Plymouth City Council fitted its existing fleet of Nissan Leafs with bi-directional chargers as part of a joint research project with Cisco, Cenex, Nuve, Imperial, Transport for London and the Greater London Authority.  

Similarly, Nottingham City Council has installed V2G chargers at its Eastcroft waste transfer depot as part of CleanMobilEnergy – a project backed by € 4.29m of EU funding that will utilise various clean energy systems and V2G technologies to support regional EV rollouts. 

Home work perk

In related news, Centrica has this week revealed the results of a survey of 200 UK-based business with a turnover exceeding £1m, focussed on EV adoption.

Eight in ten of the surveyed firms said that home working requirements had influenced plans to integrate EVs into fleets. One-third now plan to help employees install charging points at their own homes, in recognition of the shift towards remote working.

Firms without such plans cited challenges including upfront cost and a lack of knowledge about potential installation partners.

“The shift to more flexible working means firms are rethinking how they manage the transition to electric fleets and how they support their employees with the right charging infrastructure,” Centric Business Solutions’ managing director Greg McKenna said. “However, it’s important to note that a third of drivers don’t have access to off-street parking, meaning businesses will need a balance of home charging, workplace charging and a robust public charging network to achieve their electrification plans.

“With the ban on traditionally fuelled vehicle [sales] inching ever closer, and on-street charging costs prohibitively expensive, it’s likely we’ll see more employers offering to install home charging, alongside systems to help them manage the chargers and the energy they use.”

Recent Centrica research found that UK businesses are planning to spend £15.8bn on EVs this financial year, a 50% increase in spending from the previous year.

 Sarah George



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