Octopus Energy and the National Grid Electricity System Operator (National Grid ESO) have successfully trialled the use of electric vehicles (EV) to assist with balancing the demands of Britain's power system.
As governments work towards a goal of decarbonisation and encouragement of the use of EVs on our roads, our electricity grid faces a significant increase in the demand for electricity which in turn leads to voltage imbalances and supply issues.
In addressing this issue, Octopus Energy and the National Grid ESO have trialled new innovative technology which utilises EVs as batteries to store and discharge electricity into the system when not in use. The trial used direct signals from the National Grid ESO to charge electric vehicles in times of surplus and discharge this electricity during peak times in order to relieve pressures on the grid by managing the demand and supply throughout the day.
Octopus Energy predict that they could save up to $40bn by 2050 by integrating this vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology into the system and EV users could save an estimated £840 per year by taking advantage of the technology. Customers could therefore benefit from price benefits and added flexibility by utilising EVs to assist with energy supply pressures whilst reducing their energy bills, a lucrative benefit in light of record high energy prices.
The potential of this technology is undeniably huge, with consumers playing an active role in balancing the grid through their vehicles, however, there are legal barriers to overcome before this technology can be utilised on a much wider scale. The risks of collecting and processing large volumes of data to facilitate the use of V2G technology and the question of whether EVs would be considered energy suppliers (and therefore subject to increased regulation) must be addressed prior to the implementation of the technology on a broader scale.
Nevertheless, with several car manufacturers, including Hyundai, Volkswagen and Porsche, testing and committing to include V2G technology in future EV development, the future of this new technology is looking positively bright. Although these trials relate to GB only, their success this far is encouraging and we could see the technology rapidly develop and become of local interest in the very near future.