Nottingham City Council will launch tenders for battery storage and bi-directional electric vehicle chargers in the next few weeks.
The authority is one of four cities taking part in a EU-funded vehicle-to-grid (V2G) trial. It has ordered 40 new electric vehicles and plans to use them as part of an integrated system that combines vehicles, battery storage, solar PV and a smart management system. The aim is to work out how EVs, storage and on-site generation can help optimise charging, maximise use of renewable generation and help balance the grid.
Nottingham also intends to use the system to bid into ancillary services such as firm frequency response, as well as trial market-based ways of selling flexible power, including arbitrage.
The council will site the project at its Eastcroft Depot, home to a waste transfer station.
The ‘CleanMobilEnergy’ project, funded via Interreg North-West Europe, hopes to develop technology that can be replicated at scale.
Nottingham is now laying the groundwork for the project and working through technical challenges.
Katie Greenhalgh, energy projects manager at NCC’s Energy Projects Team, says grid constraints are a hurdle, with “major upgrade works” required.
The site has six MPANs, she explains, which will be consolidated into a single incoming HV supply.
“While the distribution network operator (WPD) knows we are creating a smart system, they have to take a risk averse approach,” says Greenhalgh. “That means we need a grid connection large enough for all of the building’s consumption, all the import of the battery, all of the vehicles.”
That means additional cost (some £750,000) and disruption, given the working site’s electrical infrastructure will require reconfiguring. However, given the council’s plans to electrify its vehicle fleet – around 240 vehicles – and that the six supplies are at capacity, it should ultimately be worth it, says Greenhalgh.
“It’s complex, beyond what we saw when we signed up [to the trial], but we like a challenge,” she says.
As well as bi-directional chargers, Nottingham will also install around 40 smart chargers to help manage power flows and peaks. It may also need to install “one or two” rapid chargers for vehicles such as road sweepers that require quick turnarounds for multiple shifts. As well as sweepers and cage tippers, the council even plans to trial an electric bin lorry.
“That’s exciting, but it creates charging challenges,” says Greenhalgh. “Ideally we could manage without [rapid chargers]… but the standalone battery means we can avoid a huge draw on the grid, which is the whole point of the project, and provide grid services where we can.”
While the trial will look at how to integrate solar PV and storage into a smart management system, the vehicles will also be used to feed energy back into the battery, the site, or the grid, says Greenhalgh.
Vans usually return to the depot at around 3-4pm, which would give plenty of time to feed back some of their remaining power. “In theory, it should work well,” says Greenhalgh.
Over the next two years, the council hopes to test that theory. If it can help prove vehicle-to-grid services are viable, the implications for the power system could be significant.
See details on the CleanMobilEnergy project here.
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