Ev.energy has secured £295,000 in funding to scale up what it says is the UK’s first commercially operating virtual power plant (VPP) using only electric vehicles (EVs).
The new funding takes the total awarded by Innovate UK as part of UK Research and Innovation's Prospering from the Energy Revolution programme to £754,000.
It follows ev.energy becoming the first software platform to successfully demonstrate commercially shifting energy consumption from the power grid using only EVs.
Indeed, on 1 December 2021, ev.energy’s partner UK Power Networks (UKPN) issued its first commercial dispatch instructions for ev.energy to reduce electricity demand. The VPP automatically responded to the signals by pausing EV charging in areas of Norfolk and Essex where the grid was congested.
Between 5pm and 6:30pm, power consumption from EV charging was reduced by 90% compared to the unmanaged baseline, alleviating strain on the grid.
In return for helping to balance the grid, EV drivers using ev.energy’s smart charging algorithm earn reward points worth up to £60 per year in retail vouchers, or they can choose to offset their carbon emissions from charging.
A separate project, the Flexibly-Responsive Energy Delivery (FRED) trial, recently found that smart charging can reduce the cost of supplying electricity by 26%, and that EV users respond well to incentives but that there is no single proposition that appeals to all.
"While these localised virtual power plants are currently small in scale, they demonstrate the significant potential that can be unlocked from smart charging as the number of electric vehicles increases," said Sotiris Georgiopoulos, head of smart grid development at UK Power Networks.
It builds on the existing relationship between the two, with UKPN having awarded a flexibility contract to ev.energy in June 2020, with this being the first time domestic EVs had won a commercial tender.
Meanwhile, last year Flexitricity registered the first domestic EV aggregated unit in the Balancing Mechanism in a partnership with ev.energy.
The new funding follows ev.energy raising US$8.8 million (£6.3 million) last year to “aggressively” scale the company’s reach across energy utility partners, car manufacturers, charger partners and drivers.