Flexitricity has been announced as Western Power Distribution’s (WPD) first energy partner for its vehicle to grid (V2G) trial, Electric Nation.
The company will join the DNO and smart charging platform CrowdCharge in the project, which will test the ability of electric vehicles (EVs) to provide flexibility for the grid. In its role as an aggregator, it will help the participating vehicles to either charge when there is excess power on the grid, or discharge when there is less power on the grid.
Andy Lowe, director at Flexitricity, said the company is pleased to be the flexibility optimisation partner for the project.
“We are offering a pioneering opportunity for EV drivers to help balance the load on the electricity grid, and to be rewarded for doing this.
“This is providing a vision of the future when millions of EVs will be able to provide services to the grid, resulting in cost savings for car owners, reduced infrastructure spending for DNOs and energy generators, as well as helping the country to achieve its net zero CO2 targets.”
During the early stages of the Electric Nation trial, Flexitricity will simulate the conditions of the Balancing Mechanism (BM). This will allow WPD to gather valuable data, and explore the potential for EVs to contribute to the system.
Flexitricity lauded itself as the first electricity supplier to bring business energy customers into the BM, with a wealth of experience operating and aggregating assets for flexibility. Beyond the BM, this includes being the first open-market demand response aggregator and the first company of its type to enter the GB Capacity Market, and most recently one of the first companies to win Dynamic Containment contracts.
The Electric Nation V2G project will bring together five different energy partners to create a more realistic simulation of the future, with many streets having a number of EVs using V2G chargers with different energy suppliers.
In total there will be 100 Nissan EV owners within the WPD license areas – the Midlands, South West and South Wales – who will take part in the trial. Of these, 25 applicants will be offered the opportunity to join with the Flexitricity and CrowdCharge ‘energy optimisation with grid services’ proposition.
Within the trial, drivers will inform the CrowdCharge platform of when they next need the car and how much energy they will need. This can then ensure that the EV has the correct amount of charge as well as being utilised for demand side response.
For example, a vehicle may be plugged in for 12 hours overnight, but actually only need to charge for one or two of these. As such, the CrowdCharge platform can schedule the charging for when there is surplus renewable energy on the grid, reducing the carbon footprint, lowering electricity bills and additionally helping to balance the grid by minimising the need for curtailment.
Additionally, the platform can keep bills low by using electricity from the EV battery to power the home at times when the power price is high.
Those who take part in the trial will be offered free installation of the V2G smart chargers worth £5,500. These must be Nissan drivers due to their CHAdeMO technology, their EV must have a battery capacity of at least 30kWh or more, and they need off-road parking. It is possible they will need to switch to a new energy tariff if required by their assigned project energy supplier as well.
The Electric Nation V2G project follows on from the first project of the name, which ran from 2018 to 2019. At the time it was the world's largest EV smart charging trial, looking at more than two million hours of car charging to provide insight into the charging habits of EV owners.
Paul Jewell, DSO development manager at WPD, said the first Electric Nation trial was an “invaluable project”, allowing the company to gain the knowledge and confidence to rethink assumptions about EV charging.
“It has already allowed more EVs to connect to our network quickly and without upgrades. The new Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project takes this learning a stage further and will demonstrate how EVs can be used to support the grid.
“Understanding how Flexitricity might use this resource to provide grid services will help us build networks which are ready for a net zero future.”
Participants of Electric Nation are expected to earn a minimum of £120 over the one year trial, which starts March 2021. Already, over 400 EV drivers have applied, but the application process remains open to ensure that there are 100 participants that meet all of the eligibility criteria.