V2X: how ‘storage on wheels’ can reshape our energy system

EV smart charging

Dagoberto Cedillos, Strategy & Innovation Lead at Open Energi

As Electric Vehicle (EV) uptake accelerates we’re starting to see a radical transformation in the way transportation influences the power system. Vehicle-to-X (V2X) technology, which can be used to discharge an EV battery back to the grid, or to power our homes and businesses, has a pivotal role to play.

By unlocking ‘storage on wheels’ V2X can bring down the cost of EV ownership; reducing the need for infrastructure upgrades and cost effectively integrating more renewable generation. Open Energi’s analysis suggests that by using vehicle batteries to optimise electricity demand against prices, EV owners could benefit from a new income stream in the region of £1,500 a year.

EV momentum

The UK currently has over 130,000 EVs on the road, and National Grid expects this to rise to over 10 million by 2030. Globally, BNEF forecasts 130 million EVs in the same timeframe.  As 2019 gets underway, all the indicators suggest EV growth is well on its way to hitting these targets, breaking records month-on-month. The graph below shows how EV forecasts have increased year on year. It’s possible we will see a very visible step change in the mid-2020s, as EVs hit up-front cost parity with Internal Combustion Engines (ICEs).

 

BNEF rising consensus on EV adoptionRising Consensus on EV adoption, source BNEF

Quantifying EV flexibility from smart charging

Last year Open Energi analysed the potential to manage EV electricity demand (one way) using smart charging.  Taking National Grid’s 10 million by 2030 forecast, we identified some 12GW of flexibility which could turn EVs from a threat to grid stability to an asset that can benefit the grid, drivers and the environment alike.

Smart charging flexibility comes from the energy that can be shifted (e.g. moving a period of charge, or part of it, from one time to another) and is determined by the amount of energy a vehicle will require at a given charge.

An average vehicle in the UK drives 21 miles per day, which translates to 6-7kWh. It is also limited by the speed of charging, typically 3, 7 or 11kW for an EV charging at home or in the workplace.  These scenarios offer the most smart charging potential because vehicles are parked and charging for longer periods, which makes their charging more interruptible.

There is no need for an expensive rapid charger outside your office or home if you are parked there for several hours. You will have ample time to charge your vehicle with a cheaper, slower charger.

Flexibility from EV charging with higher charging speeds is less interruptible, as it will tend to take place in situations where people want to charge quickly and continue with their journey, e.g. forecourt environments. These rapid charging scenarios will likely be complemented by stationary energy storage, which will help to reduce consumption during peak periods, manage local network constraints and provide grid services, as in the case of Open Energi’s project at South Mimms Motorway Services.

V2X capabilities

V2X tableOpen Energi’s 2017 analysis explored the potential to enable flexibility via smart charging. Turning our attention from smart charging to V2X provides food for thought. Instead of being limited by the amount of demand that can be shifted, V2X flexibility is defined by the amount of energy storage capacity in the vehicle battery (e.g. 40kWh for a Nissan Leaf) and its charge/discharge speed (3kW or 10kW based on current technology). This energy storage capacity could be used multiple times in a day, depending on its charging and discharging.

Conservatively assuming 5 million vehicles on the roads by 2030 – half of National Grid’s forecast – this translates to 200GWh of storage. Assuming they could charge/discharge at a low speed of 3kW, this equates to 15GW of capacity, enough to power 30 million homes! For comparison, National Grid’s most optimistic 2030 forecast of total (stationary) electricity storage capacity is 9GW.

Household demand

Given the battery accounts for some 50% of the car’s cost it is important to consider battery lifecycle and how using it could impact the vehicle’s warranty. However, keep in mind that a vehicle driving the average 21 miles a day will use less than a fifth of its capacity each day (7kWh/40kWh). The graph below illustrates a typical UK home’s daily consumption, which is in the region of 2kWh over the evening peak (4-7pm).

Daily Household Electricity ConsumptionResidential demand profile, source UKERC

Using V2X technology, an EV battery could discharge to the home during this time and already create substantial value by simply taking the household ‘off-grid’ when prices are at their highest. Adding this 2kWh to the 7kWh needed for driving gives a total daily throughput of 9kWh, or 22.5% of battery capacity.

EV storage on wheels

The batteries Open Energi operates in our portfolio of distributed energy assets usually perform a full charge/discharge cycle per day and comply with warranty conditions, so there is potential to extract further value by increasing the utilisation of the vehicle battery. However, in the example of a household we need to evaluate if the spread between the export price during the peak and the import price when energy is recovered is positive to justify exporting to the grid. This is not necessarily the case for larger demand sites such as an Industrial or Commercial user.

Opportunity for large energy users

Sites with greater demand could shift even more energy, and discharge more vehicles at once, without having to export. Essentially, a fleet of commercial vehicles becomes a behind-the-meter energy storage asset for a site when drivers have finished their shifts, displacing site consumption during the peak and recharging the vehicle battery when prices fall. Open Energi’s analysis suggests that this kind of demand optimisation could be worth up to £1,500 per vehicle per year.

The main obstacle today is the price and availability of V2G chargers but this should quickly change. While V2G chargers are relatively difficult to procure at present, V2G compatible vehicles are already being sold at a similar price to comparable EV models. For example, Nissan’s electric van, the e-NV200, does not seem to have a premium for the feature – it comes already equipped with V2G compatible charging technology. As charging technology catches up, V2G will be a standard bundled feature of these vehicles.

Storage on wheels

Projects such as Powerloop, the first large-scale domestic V2G trial in the UK, aim to demonstrate the benefits of V2X in action. Backed by Innovate UK and bringing together a consortium including Open Energi, Octopus Energy, Octopus Electric Vehicles, UK Power Networks and ChargePoint Services, the 3-year, £7 million project will see 135 V2G chargers rolled out on the UK’s electricity grid. EV drivers will be able to access a special V2G bundle when leasing a V2G compatible car.

A two-way charger will enable the driver to charge their vehicle intelligently, using their vehicle battery to power their home during peak times or sell spare power back to the grid. The project will also focus on the role of EVs in delivering flexibility services to the local network. Open Energi’s Dynamic Demand 2.0 technology will aggregate the cars’ battery power to integrate domestic V2G into UK Power Networks’ flexibility services.  Together, we aim to demonstrate the benefits of using EVs to support the grid and reduce costs for drivers.

It’s clear that V2X unlocks a huge opportunity for energy systems globally – with the potential to create a volume of ‘storage on wheels’ that will ultimately eclipse grid-scale and behind-the-meter batter storage many times over. Depending on how we shape regulation, develop technology and create new business models, this huge amount of flexible storage potential could be captured to lower the cost of car ownership, power our homes, and operate our electricity network more efficiently, whilst accelerating our transition to a net zero carbon future.

What National Grid’s latest forecasts mean for EV flexibility

EV smart charging

Last week National Grid published its 2018 Future Energy ScenariosMost notably, this year’s scenarios forecast there could be as many as 36 million electric vehicles (EVs) on UK roads by 2040, almost double the number suggested a year ago.

Accelerating EV uptake will increase overall electricity demand – with EVs accounting for 7.5% of total electricity demand by 2040 – but the impact of EVs can be managed and controlled thanks to smart charging and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, which means EVs can be turned into a flexible asset which works for the benefit of the system.

The report recognises this – modelling the impact of V2G technology for the first time – and highlights the role of EVs in helping to manage peaks and troughs in demand and provide stored energy to support growing levels of renewable generation.

 

 

EV electricity consumption 2018

Open Energi have updated our modelling of EV flexibility to reflect National Grid’s latest forecasts. By 2030, with up to 11 million EVs on the road, our analysis suggests there could exist between 1.1–3.7GW of turn-up and between 2.5-8.5GW of turn-down flexibility to be unlocked from smart-charging. The available flexibility would change throughout the day depending on charging patterns and scenarios. In 2040, with 36 million EVs on the road, this rises to up to 12.6GW of turn-up and 29.7GW of turn-down flexibility respectively.   Our current analysis does not include V2G so these calculations will eventually be higher depending on the level of V2G penetration achieved.

 

EV flexibility 2018

 

EV Flexibility turn down profile 2020

 

EV flexibility profile 2020 turn-up

Open Energi is working to make these figures a reality.

We are part of the PowerLoop consortium, a 3-year, £7 million project backed by Innovate UK to develop the UK’s first large-scale domestic V2G trial. The consortium includes Octopus Energy, Octopus Electric Vehicles, UK Power Networks, ChargePoint Services, Energy Saving Trust and Navigant.

Open Energi is leading on developing a bespoke V2G aggregation platform and is working closely with UK Power Networks to integrate domestic V2G into their flexibility services.  Together, we aim to demonstrate the benefits of using domestic V2G to support the grid and reduce costs for drivers.

In parallel, we’re working with businesses to develop EV charging and fleet management strategies that deliver valuable savings and income and support companies’ wider energy management and sustainability goals. Our Dynamic Demand 2.0 platform means EVs can be controlled and optimised alongside other energy assets – including on-site generation and storage – to ensure vehicles are charged and ready when needed, site constraints are managed, and value is maximised.

With the right technology in place, we can manage the impact of EVs on the electricity system, create the foundations for mass adoption and align sustainable energy and transport needs for the future.

For the full methodology behind our EV flexibility calculations, click here.

Dagoberto Cedillos, Strategy and Innovation Lead, Open Energi

EV charging: 5 factors every business should consider

Tesla South Mimms Supercharger and PowerPack

As Electric Vehicle (EV) uptake accelerates and costs fall, more and more companies are exploring how to electrify their vehicle fleets and offer EV charging to employees and/or customers. Delivering sustainable transport solutions will cut carbon and improve air quality, but businesses need to think carefully about the impact on their electricity demand and how they manage EV charging as part of their wider energy strategy.

Dagoberto Cedillos, Strategy & Innovation Lead at Open Energi, explores five factors every business should consider, and how, with the right approach, EVs can be managed to deliver valuable savings and income.

1. Charging infrastructure

There are a large and growing number of EV models on the market with progressively faster charging speeds and bigger ranges. Charging set-ups differ across manufacturers, although two favoured options seem to be emerging; Type 1 and CHAdeMO or Type 2 and CCS (Zap Map offer a good overview of this).

In the UK Type 2 is by far the most commonly available chargepoint. Understanding fleet or workplace/customer charging requirements should inform what charging infrastructure is most appropriate, but of course fast or rapid connectors will have a larger impact in terms of electricity demand.

EV charging speeds

2. Connection size:

EVs can instantly draw a lot of power from the grid. Today’s rapid chargers typically charge at up to 50kW (although Tesla’s are faster), but newer models are expected to charge at 150kW and beyond.  If you are offering fast/rapid charging and expect to have many vehicles charging at once, you may need to expand your connection size. A larger connection will cost more but will enable you to meet higher demand without exceeding your import limits – assuming the local electricity network has the capacity. An alternative approach is to stagger the timing of vehicle charging so that you avoid creating a surge in power demand (‘smart queuing’), enabling a smaller, less expensive connection. Similarly, if you have on-site renewable generation or energy storage, these can be used alongside EV charging to manage demand and make the most of clean, cheap electricity when it is available.

3. Charging patterns

It’s really important to think about expected charging patterns. If it’s your own fleet will they all be charging overnight only, weekdays versus weekends, or on a rolling 24/7 basis? Similarly for employees or customer charging facilities, will charging be condensed into working or opening hours or could the facilities be used more widely? The more flexibility you have to manage and spread EV charging the better, but you have to start by focusing on the requirements and expectations of the driver. A supermarket customer might only connect for twenty minutes but won’t want their charging interrupted. Someone at work could plug their vehicle in for eight hours or more, so probably won’t mind if you delay or interrupt their charging as long as their vehicle is charged and ready to go when they finish work. Smart queuing, which automates optimal queuing and charge dispatch of EVs can manage this process to support local network needs and ensure vehicle charging is prioritised in the appropriate order.

EV value streams4. How many and where

If charging stations are dispersed in small numbers across multiple sites that will be much easier to manage and integrate with existing infrastructure than a large number all at one site. However, if your charging is concentrated in one place, this will make it easier to capture value from smart charging and EV flexibility. Local flexibility markets are emerging, and the ability to turn-down demand quickly and efficiently could provide a valuable service to local Distribution Network Operators. The business case for aggregating and delivering this kind of service from EVs becomes more compelling where there are economies of scale to be gained from connecting to many vehicles in one place.

5. Electricity bill

It’s important to assess the impact EVs will have on your electricity bill. Understanding this, and the nature of the tariff structure you have with your supplier, will help to identify where the opportunities for optimisation lie. Minimising charging during peak price periods and maximising charging when electricity is at its cheapest is an obvious first step, but the ability to manage the timing of EV charging also opens up potential revenue streams. For example, as renewable generation grows instances of negative pricing – when you get paid to consume electricity – are expected to occur more often. With the right technology in place, your EVs could respond to these price signals and get paid to charge your EV fleet. More generally, the ability to respond to fluctuations in electricity supply and demand and provide short-term balancing services – i.e. a few minutes – to the System Operator can be extremely valuable.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your business’ EV charging strategy in more detail, please get in touch.