V2G technology: the future of smart charging for electric vehicles

 

Image shows solar panels aside a row of office buildings. Businesses can use V2G technology along with solar panels to maximise their energy usage.

A report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) found that most plug-in cars are registered to businesses rather than people in the UK, with the current total vehicle parc amounting to over 748,000 cars, vans, buses, and trucks

Comparing SMMT data from 2021 compared to 2022 YTD showed that there has been a 99.8% increase in electric vehicle registrations across all models. This increase shows that both consumers and businesses are making the switch to electric vehicles to reduce their emissions, while also benefitting from the cost savings associated with going electric.

The two types of EV that work via plug-in charging are Battery Powered Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs). While the rate of registrations between 2021 and 2022 remained stable for PHEVs, the number of new registrations more than doubled for BEVs from 27,705 to 42,284, suggesting a steep increase in popularity.

Last year, the government announced plans to develop 300,000 new chargepoints across the UK by 2030 to support the rising use of electric vehicles (EVs) that require plug-in charging. You can read more about this peak in demand in our previous article here. This increase has opened the door to emerging technologies like Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) charging, which can help businesses to monetise fleet downtime and promote sustainable operations within their organisation.

This article will discuss the benefits of V2G technology for businesses in terms of cost and the environment and address any potential concerns that a fleet manager may have when considering V2G charging, whether vehicles are charged on-site or at employees’ homes.

Smart chargepoints in the UK

New chargepoint regulations came into effect in 2021 to produce a regulatory framework to deploy smart chargepoints in the UK. These regulations stipulate that installed EV chargepoints must feature smart technology to allow users to view detailed information about their charging sessions and feature pre-configured charging sessions around off-peak schedules.

The use of smart chargepoints allows vehicles to charge outside of peak demand times. This reduces the pressure on the electricity network and decreases the requirement for expensive capacity upgrades. Along with this benefit, the charging costs to a business are reduced as charging is performed on a cheaper off-peak tariff.

Smart chargepoints are known as V1G as the energy flows in one direction, from the grid to the EV battery. The features of these chargepoints allow the user to change the rate of charge or the time of charge to conveniently fit within their usage patterns and rate schedule.

How is V2G technology different to smart charging?

Bidirectional charging can be achieved using V2G technology which allows power to be transferred from the national grid to the vehicle’s battery at times of low demand, and from the battery back into the national grid at times of peak electricity demand.

As with V1G, V2G technology means businesses can charge their fleet at off-peak schedules. However, V2G goes a step further in allowing the owner to choose to discharge surplus energy back on a paid basis into the national grid at periods of high demand, in return for free or reduced tariffs when the owner requires the vehicle again (depending on the energy provider or scheme).

The user can input when they need to use their vehicle again, therefore making use of the renewable energy during down-time, when the car would not have been used anyway. Electric vehicles can therefore be re-imagined as power storage systems, sometimes referred to as batteries on wheels.

With V2G technology, companies can benefit from cheaper tariffs when charging their vehicle at off-peak periods and can sell electricity back into the grid at peak times and at peak rates, profiting on the difference.

Image showing solar panels and wind turbines aside a car charging with V2G technology.

V2G’s role in strengthening renewable energy  

As vehicles charge when demand is lower or renewable power generation is high, reliance on fossil fuels is reduced which gives V2G a role in carbon reduction efforts.

When there is an increase in demand for electricity, the grid is forced to burn natural gas in order to meet the excess demand. Read the national grid’s article here to learn more about how there needs to be more flexibility in the way electricity is used and stored to meet the net zero emission targets.

V2G charging makes renewable energy last longer. It increases the amount of flexibility in the electricity system by repurposing it for other uses. In this respect, the same unit of energy is used on multiple occasions through charge and discharge cycles.

Outside of V2G technology, the use of solar panels to directly charge EVs is becoming more common in homes and workplaces. In a recent consumer trial, owners were able to charge their EVs with free 100% renewable energy through the use of solar panels. V2G adds another benefit to companies that already use this method of charging, as they can charge EVs during the day for free, and then send some or all of the charge back to the national grid, depending on which vehicles need to be used.

As this provides a benefit to energy companies and the wider infrastructure that balances renewable energy sources, owners choosing to discharge energy at high-peak times are rewarded financially.

How does the cost of V2G actually work?  

Businesses may be concerned about the cost of giving energy back to the grid, but there is a healthy profit to be made with V2G. Energy providers are increasingly incentivising the flexible use of renewables.

V2G technology works by monetising surplus energy and offering owners of V2G cheaper energy tariffs when renewable energy is available. For example, when there is a surplus of wind energy overnight and the grid needs somewhere to store excess energy, EV owners can find an additional source of revenue from vehicles that would otherwise be standing still.

In a trial carried out in Denmark across a two-year period, a fleet of 10 Nissan e-NV200 electric vans each performed 100 hours of V2G which sold a total of 130,000 kWh back to the national grid. This meant that each van could generate the equivalent of £1600 per year simply through discharging excess energy at peak periods.

Most recently, a V2G trial in the UK with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), Hitachi ZeroCarbon and Indra included five V2G powered charging units at sites across Withington and Trafford. The study found that the Foundation Trust reduced the peak hour use electricity costs by £90 a month which led to a saving of around £1,075 per year.

V2G can also help to extend the life of EV batteries. It is good practice to avoid keeping batteries at a 100% charge as this will quickly degrade capacity. By sending the excess 20% back into the national grid, the battery is kept in peak condition for longer and the range of the vehicle is maintained.

Will V2G affect the mileage of my fleet?  

Fleet managers may be concerned that giving energy back to the national grid overnight could impact colleagues’ ability to complete their work the next day. However, it is possible to choose the amount of energy to discharge so your fleet will not be left short.

Exporting to the national grid also has minimum limitations which means a vehicle will never fall below a certain percentage that would make the vehicle inoperable. V2G technology simply means that owners can benefit from cheaper tariffs to suit the downtimes of each specific fleet.

Fleet vehicles are known to mostly have predictable and regular usage patterns which means fleet owners can strategically choose when to power their vehicles according to these patterns. As fleet vehicles return to the base at the end of the day, the cost of inactivity to the business is reduced by selling excess charge.

As the energy given back to the national grid can be strategically selected during times of inactivity, the negative consequences of vehicle downtime are reduced. Excess power can be discharged at peak evening times before ensuring the vehicles are fully charged overnight and ready to go in the morning.

Image showing various electric vehicle charging locations in one area.

Find your nearest chargepoint with Movezero 

As we push towards an increased use of renewable energy, it will be critical to maintain the right balance between the upsurge in demand for EVs and the charging ecosystem within the UK. Technologies such as V2G are the next step in smart charging and can provide financial benefits to businesses as they reach their sustainability goals, along with decreasing pressure on the national grid.

As more chargepoints with smart technologies are created, businesses will need access to the latest e-mobility solutions that work in the palm of their hands. Movezero is a product by multi-platform technology company FOD Mobility Group which connects consumers and businesses to electric vehicle hire and flexible EV leasing options, chargepoint payment and locations, and e-micromobility options that empower people to travel with convenience, comfort, and sustainability in mind.

If you’re looking to start your electrification journey soon, FOD Mobility Group is launching its new upgraded Fleetondemand platform later this year, which provides an integrated suite of automotive mobility services, including EV Plus. The EV Plus service will also offer short and mid-term EV hire with no long-term contracts or upfront fees, in addition to a dedicated EV chargepoint installation service. To find the ideal mobility solution for your organisation, contact our customer service team on +44 (0)330 123 1089, or enquiries@fodmobilitygroup.com.