Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging could change the way organisations think about electricity.
As EVs become more popular in the UK, electricity demand will inevitably rise. This’ll create new opportunities with commercial EV fleets. Ultimately, it could help turn what’s currently a cost centre – refuelling – into a potential revenue stream through optimisation of electricity use.
It’s difficult to predict precisely how much extra demand for electricity EVs will create, but alongside wider electrification, it’ll be significant.
Appetite for consumption
National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios reports forecast possible energy outcomes on the way to 2050. Its 2020 report projected one scenario where peak daily electricity demand would rise to approximately 62 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 and 76-96GW by 2050.
To put that in context, in 2019, peak electricity demand on a cold winter’s day in the UK was in the region of 59GW. So, even by 2030, we could find ourselves needing approximately 5% more electricity at peak times. That requirement could be more like 50% extra by 2050.
From adversity comes opportunity
Increases in demand are likely to affect the price of electricity. That price volatility creates an opportunity for profit, through optimising bi-directional vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging.
Organisations with large EV fleets are going to want to charge their vehicles when the price of electricity is at its lowest – typically overnight.
If millions of EVs are charging at the same time, electricity will become more expensive. A sharp rise followed by a sustained level of demand could even change the traditional pattern of daytime peak / night-time off-peak power pricing.
Changing price dynamics are already creating an opportunity for EV owners.
Optimisation and beyond
Drax are using their flexibility services to help some of their customers by:
1 Understanding their operational requirements – when they need machinery and offices to be switched on – and plotting it against electricity prices. This enables them to avoid unnecessary charges and limit consumption at peak times.
2 Finding optimal tariffs to help them reduce EV charging costs. By automating their systems to charge only when the electricity price has fallen to a given level, Drax are helping to reduce their costs.
But by going beyond optimisation and enabling bidirectional charging, these customers could use their electric fleets to generate income. EVs are effectively mobile batteries that can charge and discharge. Organisations can send any power in their fleet’s EVs back to the Grid with a V2G charger.
In this way, Drax are enabling more than just cost-saving practices, they’re introducing their customers to new revenue streams.
In one of National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios, V2G charging could provide up to 38GW of flexible power from 5.5 million EVs. That extra electricity would cover all the extra peak power the UK needs in the highest-demand scenario for 2050.
Bidirectional charge points are available now, just not yet at a sufficient scale or an appropriate price to be viable.
However, the time will soon come when economies of scale make bidirectional charging technology more affordable and more widely available. Organisations with EV fleets will be in pole position to profit.
Drax are helping organisations across the UK to move from internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEs) to EVs. Their end-to-end partnership service plots a clear roadmap to cleaner fleets, lower emissions, regulatory compliance and reduced costs.
If you’re considering the switch to EVs, find out how Drax can help you on your journey.