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BEIS expects around 20% of all London homes will require air conditioning by 2035. Image: Pxhere.
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Could V2G help solve the air con conundrum?

BEIS expects around 20% of all London homes will require air conditioning by 2035. Image: Pxhere.

Far from devastating typhoons and wildfires spanning millions of acres, the UK at times felt sheltered from the extreme climate events wreaking havoc abroad. But on the week beginning 18 July, we felt the heat. The reality of a warming climate hit every British home as punishing temperatures exceeded 40℃ in some places. There’s no arguing with the thermometer, rising temperatures are here and they’re here to stay.

Social media platforms have been a-buzz with ‘top tips for cooling your home’ and, despite makeshift attempts at homemade air conditioning, more frequent heat waves will compel many households to start investing in air conditioning installation. In fact, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) around 20% of all London homes will require air conditioning by 2035. This alone would increase the pressure on the city’s local electricity distribution networks, potentially adding another ~1.4GW to summer peak demand. If we scale this up to total homes in England using National Grid ESO’s Future Energy Scenario 2022 central scenario, we could see air conditioning add ~4GW of load at summer peak, with its effect predominantly in the early evening.

Exacerbating the issue is the direct effect soaring temperatures have on network infrastructure. Power lines have a limited capacity for how much energy they can carry, which is further reduced when they get hot. If the heat causes cables to fail then power has to be rerouted or generated via a back-up coal plant or otherwise face the risk of outages. We saw the impact of extremely cold conditions during the power outages in Texas in 2021 when network pipes froze over which led to rolling blackouts.

So how can we prepare for a scenario of increased peak demand in the summer months while ensuring system resilience? Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) offers a multi-faceted solution. Bidirectional V2G charging is able to both charge electric vehicles (EVs) at times that are cheaper and greener for the grid, and enable drivers to sell surplus energy back when there is a shortfall in supply.

The average availability of devices for energy export. Image: Kaluza.
The average availability of devices for energy export. Image: Kaluza.

Applied to the UK’s future air con challenge, V2G is perfectly positioned to turn millions of incoming EVs into flexible grid batteries that will facilitate the expected increase in AC usage. The technology enables the use of locally stored electricity to power the household AC unit minimising distribution effects on the local grid. Further, by coupling this with rooftop solar, we could circumvent the additional demand on the grid completely. A trend towards more days of sun could boost solar production which, combined with V2G could essentially turn homes into mini power stations able to generate, store and sell their own renewable energy.

Kaluza currently optimises the charging of the world’s largest deployment of domestic V2G in the UK. Over Monday and Tuesday of this week, when UK temperatures peaked, 40% of our V2G-connected EVs were available to export during 12pm and 6pm when temperatures were highest. According to the Future Energy Scenarios 2022, ~20% of all EVs on the road in 2035 could be V2G enabled. Based on our V2G data, V2G uptake of this scale would be able to power daytime usage of more than 600,000 air conditioning units across homes in the UK – meaning a further 1.2GW reduction in the load placed on the grid as a result of air conditioning usage.

Electricity demand from air conditioning, vs. the potential of V2G. Image: Kaluza.
Electricity demand from air conditioning, vs. the potential of V2G. Image: Kaluza.

In terms of system reliability, V2Gs are spurring a shift to a more distributed energy system – enabling energy to be generated and stored locally – helping to reduce the need for extensive physical infrastructure that can be vulnerable in extreme weather conditions.

Study other markets that already have high EV and AC penetration and the use case for V2G becomes even more apparent. For example, industrial level and residential air conditioning is the single largest driver of summer peak demand in California. The state’s estimated 9 million domestic AC units combined with increasing numbers of EVs makes it a prime location for leveraging V2Gs to create grid flexibility. Currently V1G and V2G has the potential to offset all of the domestic peak load in California, which amounts to 40% of total peak demand.

So, it’s clear to see V2G offers a powerful tool in balancing our transitioning system at scale. Today, we also know that by optimising EVs to charge on cheap energy which they can later sell, customers stand to save as much as £42/$50 a month and this is only expected to increase. If the average AC unit costs approximately around £100 per month to run, then V2G effectively reduces the consumer cost of AC by 50%.

The reality of a warming planet is a harsh one. V2G not only helps us balance a constantly evolving energy system but accelerates decarbonisation at a price affordable for consumers and system operators alike. In the case of air con, V2G offers a pathway to addressing the cooling problems we face in the UK and beyond by shaving off steep increases in demand and enabling energy systems to continue to ramp up use of renewable power. The technology is here, let’s use it.

This article originally appeared on Kaluza's site here.

Contributer

Valts Grintals Product marketing lead, Kaluza Flex

Valts Grintals is product marketing lead for Kaluza Flex, and is responsible for identifying new market opportunities and shaping the Kaluza Flex proposition to drive decarbonisation on a global scale.

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