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V2G has 'huge potential' beyond financial benefits

A V2G charger installed as part of the Seev4 City Project. Image: Cenex.

A V2G charger installed as part of the Seev4 City Project. Image: Cenex.

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology has been “reduced down” to making revenue from energy trading despite having a “range of opportunities” and benefits.

This is according to a new review of nine European V2G projects by Cenex. The review, which was funded by Innovate UK, found that the traditional model for V2G of generating revenue through energy trading is only one of a number of opportunities for the technology, highlighting key value propositions such as resilience, the benefits to society, enhanced battery management and self sufficiency.

According to the review, V2G can significantly reduce energy system greenhouse gas emissions, as well as ensure resilience in the event of power outages and prolong the battery life of an EV.

Battery degradation is a contentious topic when discussing V2G technology, as increased cycling takes place for arbitrage, which is likely to increase a battery’s degradation.

However, the review states that whilst V2G for revenue generation is often associated with increased battery degradation, using V2G for grid services that are based on power availability but have low energy usage will “have a limited impact on battery degradation”.

In fact, it outlined how “based on current evidence”, V2G could extend the life of an EV battery by about 10%, which would allow customers to use the EV for longer and therefore reduce the total cost of ownership as well as help to reduce end-of-life waste and the demand for mining of new materials.

The review suggested that whilst there is the potential for V2G in rural areas of the UK that are more susceptible to power outages, the “more interesting concept” is the use of V2G as an energy source for back-up power or uninterruptible power supply in commercial contexts.

The technology could, the report stated, replace or reduce the need for the diesel generators usually used for backup power, reducing or completely eliminating the costs associated with maintaining and operating these systems as well as providing an economic benefit.

The review also suggested there may be a commercial value proposition in using the environmental and community benefits of V2G to contribute to a brand image, however it acknowledged that marketing V2G to target this value may be challenging.

Cenex said the key value propositions were tested individually with customer focus groups, and then later reviewed by an expert panel taking into account challenges around implementation, scalability of the market and the stability of the value proposition.

As part of the review, information was collected on the value propositions investigated in each project, how the value propositions were marketed and the lessons learned from each project.

Some of the projects evaluated include Octopus Electric Vehicle’s Powerloop project, OVO's Sciurus and the Seev4 City Project run by Cenex and a number of partners.

Cenex is also involved in the Cisco’s E-Flex V2G demonstrator project, exploring the commercial viability of V2G technology in both London and Plymouth.

In its review, Cenex made a series of recommendations following its evaluations, including recommending to chargepoint manufacturers that further trials and customer testing are required to investigate novel V2G propositions, focusing on customer-centric design principles.

To investors and funders, it recommended that the focus of further innovation funding and private investment should be targeted towards novel value propositions such as those highlighted in the review.

To policy makers, Cenex said the UK government should appoint an independent organisation to develop and deliver targeted engagement and education services for V2G over a 12-month period, particularly engaging with fleet and energy managers and EV owners.

It also suggested that the government should not make it a requirement that all chargers are V2G chargers, highlighting the example of the requirement for new chargers to have smart capabilities, but did say the enforcement of V2G for wider societal benefit "should be revisited" later on down the road when costs have come down and the technology matured.

Chris Cox, head of energy infrastructure at Cenex, said: “V2G is a technology with huge potential, but which recently has been reduced down to a tool for making money from energy trading. This study does a great job of re-considering the true potential of the technology and sets out some new and exciting opportunities."


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