UK ploughs £20m into vehicle-to-grid technology

The UK Government has announced it will invest £20m to support vehicle-to-grid (V2G) projects that allow plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) to provide demand-response services to the power grid.

Funding will be awarded to trials across the country and feasibility studies that can prove how the technology could be used in the future. It will also invest in R&D initiatives for V2G charging equipment.

Launching in the next few weeks, winning projects of the competition process will start in early 2018. Ministers expect the V2G technology will increase the number of EVs on the road, and help create a smarter and more flexible energy system, as EV batteries return electricity to the grid at times of peak demand.

Climate Change Minister Claire Perry said: “V2G technology provides another opportunity for the UK to showcase to the world our leading expertise in R&D which is at the heart of our ambitious Industrial Strategy.

“This competition could unlock significant economic benefits for the UK – helping to create jobs in this burgeoning sector while helping to reduce our emissions.”

Industry experts have commented on the “phenomenally transformative” opportunity of the development of V2G storage systems – a concept being rolled out by Tesla and BMW among other carmakers. 

Last year, Japanese carmaker Nissan partnered with Italian energy company Enel to develop 100 new vehicle-to-grid (V2G) energy storage units in London that bring together vehicles, roads and energy networks in “complete synchronicity”. Nissan recently fitted its R&D facilities in Cranfield with its V2G concept, which could generate 180MW of capacity if all 18,000 Nissan EVs in the UK were connected to the network.

EV boom

Around 100,000 electric cars are already on the roads across the UK. New analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has found that EVs will account for more than half of new global car sales by 2040. This research came in the same week as France announced an outright ban on the sales of petrol and diesel cars, set to come into force by the same date.

The BNEF predictions are based on future reductions in price for lithium-ion batteries and varying cost components in EVs and internal combustion engine vehicles. The data also factors numerous commitments from automakers to introduce EVs into portfolios. Most recently, Volvo pledged to introduce an all-electric portfolio by 2019.

Research suggests that infrastructure will also have to keep up with the pace of the EV revolution. EV charging in areas such as London has already been criticised by the likes of Uber, although Nissan predicts that there will be more EV charging points than petrol stations in the UK within the next four years.

George Ogleby

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