Vehicle-to-Grid - Technology, Challenges And Benefits 5336

Vehicle-to-Grid - Technology, Challenges And Benefits

For this month's guest posting for the Automotive and Road Transport Network, Bunmi Adefajo from the Software Innovation Team at TNEI explains the concept of Vehicle to Grid technology and the benefits it can provide.

With the increased government and private funding in research and development in battery technology for electric vehicles, the Innovation team at TNEI has reviewed V2G technology, the challenges it faces, and explored ongoing V2G trials and potential applications.

What is Vehicle-to-Grid Technology?
Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) is the technology which allows battery powered electric vehicles (EVs) to act as mobile energy storage units. This means that as well as importing, electric vehicles can export power onto the electrical network when required, via a bidirectional charging unit.

The Benefits of Vehicle-to-Grid Technology
Electric vehicles currently represent a small fraction of the entire global automotive market, but their market penetration is increasing.  Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) forecasts that by 2040, 35% new global car sales will be electric vehicles, resulting in EVs comprising 25% of the total global car fleet by 2040 (Bloomberg Energy Finance, Advanced Transport – Research Note, 25 Feb 2016).

EVs hold a considerable amount of energy onboard: current hybrid and fully-electric car battery sizes ranges between 12kWh and 60kWh. Their charging patterns however could put a considerable stress on existing infrastructure by increasing network loading, which could lead to expensive upgrades and reliability issues. The effect of EVs on distribution networks has been researched by Nissan and SSEPD in the Ofgem funded NIC project “My Electric Avenue” and it was concluded that if around 40% of UK households owned an electric car, the local distribution networks in their existing configuration could become overloaded, and require upgrading.

However, this could be mitigated if smart/staggered unidirectional charging was adopted. The National Grid’s Thought Piece on fast charging EVs, predicts that high-power EV charging stations would be required in the near future, as longer-range EVs with bigger batteries become available. Since using domestic charging points would trip homes’ fuses and stress the networks significantly.

Whilst EVs could pose a challenge for network operators, they could also be a useful asset for addressing network constraints by providing system balancing services. These include demand shifting, peak shaving and frequency regulation through bi-directional chargers, which enables the discharge of EV batteries at specific times. Other potential applications of V2G include Reactive Power (Voltage support) and Distributed Energy management/optimization.

Challenges of V2G Adoption
Despite the potential revenue streams and numerous national and regional schemes to incentivise the uptake of EVs, we are still some way off mass adoption of electric vehicles, and therefore V2G.  Some of the current challenges facing the technology include:

- Regulation and energy markets prohibit EVs participation in the provision of balancing services
- EV manufacturers do not provide battery leasing options, which allows owners to enter V2G market without compromising battery life or invalidating warranties
- A lack of V2G charger manufacturers on the market
- A lack of collaboration in these traditionally disparate industries i.e. automotive, energy and communications
- The cyber security risk – EVs being connected to smart grids would be a new entry point for viruses/malware
V2G Trials
To address some of these challenges, there have been several Vehicle-to-Grid trials on aspects of the technology – a summary of these are:
  • - Nuvve V2G Project – In 2011, Nuvve completed development of a new V2G innovation that enables customers’ electric vehicles to provide frequency regulation to the grid. A test site in Denmark was selected due to the high penetration of wind energy in the country. In 2016, the world’s first fully commercial V2G hub began operating in Denmark. Nuvve are also involved in a V2G project at the University of Newcastle, UK.
  • - Ebbs and Flows of Energy Systems (EFES) – This project, undertaken by CENEX in collaboration with Cardiff University, Moixa Technology and other partners, explored the technical, social, interoperability and market barriers of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) in the UK. Analysis indicated that by utilising just 6% of Manchester Science Park’s car park, the organisation could save over £14,000 per annum through V2G. Also, each vehicle in the scheme could earn up to £60 per month if their energy was sold into wholesale electricity market or used to provide short term operating reserve (STOR).
  • Net-Form – A recent project by CENEX, Encraft and other partners, will develop a dynamic data management platform which collects, aggregates and optimises energy collected from a pool of grid connected electric vehicles. It seeks to assess the feasibility of turning a car park into a megawatt-scale battery to provide power on demand to the electricity network. Net-Form also uses blockchain technology to ensure car drivers are rewarded for grid services provided. 

Potential Applications
To illustrate the benefits of V2G, TNEI evaluated its potential application in Orkney, a collection of 70 islands in the northern most part of the UK. The electrical network in Orkney is managed by SSE. Minimum and Maximum demand is 8 and 31MW respectively, and there are two 20MW 33kV submarine cables for import/export off the island. In 2009, an innovative Active Network Management scheme was launched in the region. The scheme controls generators output in real-time to match available network capacity. This means more renewable generation (mainly wind) can be connected on the island in line with Scottish Government’s ambitious climate change targets to create a low carbon Scotland; without costly conventional network reinforcement.
In addition to the ANM scheme, Orkney’s Transport Network could also play a role in alleviating constraints on the island’s network, facilitating connection of more wind generation and addressing the system issues caused by variability of wind generation. Orkney has one of the highest car ownership levels in Scotland due to its dispersed population. Since most journeys made are short, these could be made with an electric vehicle. Therefore, the local council has been installing electric charge points on the island.

There are presently about 21,000 residents in this region – if we assume 25% switch to electric cars by 2025, there could be considerable amount of energy available for demand shifting and frequency regulation services. For example, when there is plenty of wind energy, the Active Network Management scheme could send signals to start charging up EVs rather than turn down generation or export it off the islands. Conversely, if there is a power outage, EVs could be discharged to meet this shortfall. This of course assumes the relevant communication protocols and regulatory framework to allow bi-directional power flows from electric vehicles.
TNEI is a specialist energy consultancy - we have considerable experience in designing and scoping energy storage applications and evaluating revenue streams from storage assets. We provide our clients with comprehensive analyses on power networks and interactions with storage systems and understand the various technical and regulatory challenges facing the industry.
TNEI also owns the proprietary power systems analysis software package IPSA 2, which can model large networks, multiple scenarios and the impact of various low-carbon technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps on electrical networks.

We have successfully bid and/or delivered several Network Innovation projects including Flexible Networks for a Low Carbon Future and Smart Street, and our clients include Ofgem, Scottish Enterprise, BEIS, Scottish Power, SSEN, Nissan, Lotus, Northern Powergrid and WPD.
Our V2G services shown in Figure 5 include Grid Connection, Site Searches, Energy Storage Feasibility Studies, Revenue Stacking and Financial Modelling, Environmental Impact Assessment, Network Modelling and Analysis, and the Development of Bespoke software tools.

Blog Author
Bunmi is a PRINCE2 qualified electrical engineer and strategy analyst with over 10 years’ of experience working in the Renewable and Conventional energy, and Oil and Gas sectors. Bunmi leads the Software Innovation Team at TNEI and has managed several Low Carbon Network Fund (LCNF) and Network Innovation Competition (NIC) projects which involve the integration of more low-carbon/renewable generation including electric vehicles, to the electricity network.
For more information on TNEI’s V2G capabilities, please contact Bunmi Adefajo (, 44(0)161 233 4800)

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