Vehicle-to-Grid: What is all the fuss about?

We caught up with Octopus EV to tell us about an exciting new project they’re working on…

2020 has been a pretty big year for electric vehicles (EVs). Sales have hit an all-time high despite the pandemic, with a 162.2% increase this year to date compared to 2019. Many manufacturers have been releasing new EVs, with most confirming that their future plans are focused on electrifying their lineups.

EVs are seen as a key component in helping the UK hit new targets set by the UK government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 68% compared to 1990 levels by 2030. With this in mind, the UK Government recently announced the end of sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, with hybrids being completely phased out by 2035. This target has been moved up by ten years (it was originally set at 2040!).

One of the concerns we have seen crop up is whether the UK can actually accommodate the huge growth of EV sales that we expect in the coming years, with worries around charging provision, and whether the grid can actually handle charging up all of these cars (and whether we even generate enough power to meet that new demand!). Well, thankfully, experts think that meeting this increased demand is feasible.

What is V2G (Vehicle to Grid):

V2G is one innovative way of thinking about your car supporting home energy management, allowing energy to flow in two directions: from the car battery to the grid and from the grid to the car battery.

So why is V2G so useful, and how can it help with the inevitable increase of EV uptake spurred on by the 2030 announcement?

Octopus Electric Vehicles is currently carrying out a trial using V2G tech, called Powerloop (we’re still recruiting new participants!), which enables users to effectively make their EV part of the energy ecosystem – charging and discharging their battery at different times. Through some very clever bi-directional chargers provided by Wallbox, combined with the Nissan LEAF (one of few cars that can currently provide V2G), people taking part in this trial are helping shape the future of an energy system that will radically change how energy is produced, consumed and stored at a local level. On top of this, to make the absolute most out of this technology, the use of a smart meter combined with Octopus Energy’s special fixed-rate tariff means that the energy used in this trial is 100% renewable!

The ability to make an EV into an energy asset carries massive significance for two reasons: you can charge your car when renewable production is high (often at night or in the middle of the day) whilst demand on the grid is low, store that energy and then discharge your car back to the grid when energy demand is at its peak (4-7pm), and so on. We expect that in the future you’ll be rewarded for doing so (similar to when someone exports excess solar generation to the grid). This means we don’t need to produce more electricity to power EVs, but just use those EVs to store energy and discharge the power in them when needed.

Whilst renewable energy is of course wonderful, predicting when it is produced isn’t possible – as we can’t control when the wind blows or the sun shines! This is where charging an EV can also help prevent us from wasting this amazing renewable energy. We can charge those cars when that energy is available and your car is sat on your driveway (think of very windy nights or sunny weekends), ensuring we harness that renewable energy rather than waste it.

If you want to find out more about Powerloop and how this impacts the future of our energy system, we are running workshops which you can sign up to here. Alternatively, you can check out our website here.

Terms and Conditions: Powerloop is only available in the UKPN area, and you will need to lease a new Nissan LEAF from us. You must have access to off-street parking connected to your house. Not all household systems can support V2G. To find out more, head to our website.

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