Nissan kick-starts V2G EV charging trials

Nissan has installed 20 electric vehicle (EV) chargers with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities at its European Technical Centre in Cranfield, as it works to develop new 'smart' mobility packages for business customers.

Nissan kick-starts V2G EV charging trials

Image: Nissan

The chargers have been installed at the facility, in Bedfordshire, as part of a collaborative project with E.ON. Both companies have contributed funding to the initiative, called e4Future, as has the Government’s Innovate UK agency.

During the pilot project, vehicles will be connected to the chargers at intervals designed to replicate corporate fleet schedules – mainly overnight, but also for chunks of time during the day. E.ON’s virtual power plant software and a digital EV charging platform provided by Virta will automate charging and energy export in line with signals such as grid demand, energy prices and the carbon intensity of the energy mix.

The benefits of V2G on a national scale were outlined in a recent study of consortium experts including Nissan, Energy Systems Catapult, Cenex, Western Power Distribution, Element Energy and Moixa, which concluded that connecting EVs to the grid could cut £270m a year off the cost of running the UK power system by 2030.

Nissan hopes the trial will evidence the business case for V2G charging for a range of sectors, as it strives to launch “smart” mobility services for commercial clients in the UK, France, Belgium and Italy.

E.ON UK’s V2G programme manager Luke Ellis said the trials will provide quantitative evidence proving “clear advantages for businesses either already with a fleet of EVs, or those that are ready to make the transition”.

Nissan GB’s fleet director Peter McDonald added that many end-user businesses have gone beyond EV acquisition and are now ready to “review their energy infrastructure for a world where electric vehicles are fast becoming the norm”.

Aside from E.ON, Nissan and Virta, the initiative is being supported by Northern Powergrid, UK Power Networks and the National Grid’s Electricity System Operator (ESO). The consortium is recruiting for external trial participants at this stage, promising them V2G charging equipment at a “heavily subsidised” price.

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, while V2G offerings are now being offered by companies such as OVO Energy.

UK-based V2G uptake seems to be particularly pronounced among local authorities. Earlier this 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 which will utilise various clean energy systems and V2G technologies to support regional EV rollouts. Nottingham City Council recently featured on edie’s Net Zero Business podcast, with head of energy services Wayne Bexton discussing the council’s efforts to transition its own operations to net-zero emissions by 2028.

Sarah George

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