WPD offers free bi-directional chargers to drive vehicle-to-grid trial


Western Power Distribution is attempting to drum up participants in a vehicle-to-grid trial by offering free bi-directional charging systems worth over £5,000 to participants.

The V2G trial is part of its Electric Nation innovation project. WPD needs Nissan electric vehicle drivers to take part.

Nissan uses the CHAdeMO charging protocol, whereas most European carmakers use the Combined Charging System (CCS), which does not currently enable V2G, though the body promoting CCS, CharIN, said last year that the standard will support V2G by 2025.

Distribution network operators believe they can derive significant benefits from smart charging, e.g. controlling when cars charge to avoid overloading local networks.

However, vehicle-to-grid enables bi-directional charging, where the EV batteries can feed back to the grid via a connection that both imports and exports power.

WPD, which has said its network can currently only allow EV drivers to charge every five days if uptake increases as expected, thinks V2G will be more effective than smart charging. For example, by feeding power back to the grid when it is needed most, such as during the evening peak.

If heat becomes increasingly electrified alongside transport, peaks will become significantly larger and more challenging to manage – but V2G can help provide a solution to the challenge EVs create, says WPD.

The DNO, alongside project partner CrowdCharge, wants to recruit 100 Nissan drivers for the trial. Up to five different suppliers will be involved in the trial, as WPD aims to replicate real life conditions, with different suppliers taking their own approaches to control and using the EVs to provide different flexibility services. 

“V2G charging has the potential to transform how networks approach the challenge of keeping millions of EVs charged and moving,” said WPD DSO systems and projects manager, Roger Hey. “To introduce up to 38 million EVs to the UK network over the coming years would create great strain on the system, the equivalent of adding the electrical energy of London 14 times. By harnessing flexible systems and introducing V2G charging, it means that we can build a far more efficient and flexible network that doesn’t require billions of investment and a huge uplift in capacity.”

As well as the free V2G charging infrastructure, participants in the trial should earn at least £120 a year from providing grid services.

Recruitment starts this month, but WPD said it wouldn’t start installing until safe to do so from a Covid-19 perspective. The trial runs from March 2021-2022.

Applicants need to have a Nissan with at least 30kWh battery capacity and off road parking. Details here.

The Energyst is surveying businesses around EV rollout plans, charging requirements and attitudes towards smart charging and vehicle to grid. Anonymised views will help inform our free 2020 EV report, containing expert insight on the road ahead. Take the 5-minute survey here.

Related stories:

WPD prepares for 16-fold EV increase by 2023

Vehicle to grid: Are we nearly there yet?

Tesla applies for UK power generation licence in VPP play

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