4th December 2019

The tech that could enable electric car owners to store energy

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Electric vehicle (EV) drivers could save up to £300 a year by storing and sharing electricity in their car’s battery, according to research.

A study was carried out to look at the value of ‘vehicle-to-grid’ (V2G) technology which is designed to maximise efficient energy storage and reduce carbon emissions, as well as save money.

The researchers found that the average home could save up to £300 a year while reducing its reliance on fossil fuels, however, the V2G currently has various issues in reaching its potential. This includes high outlay costs, requiring policy incentives to help bring prices down and enable more households to take part.

V2G technology involves using an electric vehicle alongside a special charger and other home systems such as a smart hot water tank and solar panels.

The HAVEN project (Home as a Virtual Energy Network) was a joint venture between The University of Salford, Good Energy, Upside Energy and Honda Motor Europe, which took place at Salford’s Energy House.

The two-storey Victorian terraced house is set within an environmental chamber where researchers could control the weather settings and vary temperatures between -10C to 30C.

The diverse real-world conditions enabled the technology to be tested to see what worked best: at times generating power from solar panels, storing it overnight in an electric vehicle or exporting the excess to the National Grid.

EV batteries could help absorb excess power and reduce stress on the network but only when a significant number of EVs are connected with a localised area, which makes it only efficient in the UK’s current grid system.

The report noted that the government should support V2G units to further develop it from its prototype and the right level of investment and support could allow the technology to play a major role in the transition to net-zero emissions.

Juliet Davenport, CEO and founder, Good Energy said: “We must take a distributive ‘whole systems’ approach to tackling the climate emergency. That is why vehicle to grid is so exciting — it is the missing link between electrification of transport and decarbonisation of our grid and our homes.

V2G is where solar power was 10 years ago – the technology exists but it requires innovation, investment and joined up thinking. With the right policy support it could become another clean technology British success story.”

Devrim Celal, CEO of Upside Energy said: “The intelligent application of technology has the power to ensure that large scale adoption of V2G is achievable. This project has enabled us to see a clear pathway to a future where this combination of technology, combined with a joined-up strategy applied on a national scale, could have a major impact on the UK’s net zero ambitions”.

Professor Will Swan, who leads the Applied Buildings and Energy Research Group at the University of Salford’s Energy House, said: “This exciting project has helped us to identify new possibilities for sustainable domestic energy.

“Our research has shown potential to not only reduce our energy bills, but also relieve pressure on our national energy infrastructure.

“With global renewable energy supplies set to double in the next five years, we really believe that this has given us an insight into how our communities could use energy in the future and we now need to understand what these types of systems will mean for consumers.”

Jorgen Pluym, project leader at Honda Motor Europe, added: “Ensuring that electric vehicles maximise the utilisation of renewable energy whilst minimising the impact of their increased grid load is critical to the success of decarbonising of mobility. Honda sees V2G as a key technology to realising a carbon free society.”