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V2G is here

Octopus Energy and National Grid ESO demonstrate future role for electric vehicles in first for Great Britain
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Woman unplugging electric car charger at a charging station near electric power plant, in the background visible transmission line

Octopus Energy Group and National Grid ESO have announced the first successful integration of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, using a test environment of the Balancing Mechanism, the primary tool used by National Grid ESO to balance Great Britain’s electricity system in real time.

This is the first time that V2G technology has been demonstrated in Great Britain to show that electric vehicles can receive a direct signal from the ESO to support system balancing.

It marks a major turning point in electricity supply and means that in the future, consumers could play a direct role in balancing the national transmission system through their electric vehicles.

Powered by EV batteries

In a series of initial tests run in August 2022, Octopus charged and discharged the batteries of up to 20 electric cars from participating customers at times of grid imbalance. 

These tests have demonstrated the potential benefit of V2G charging – an hour of a million EVs exporting to the grid could generate the same amount of power as 5,500 onshore wind turbines.

‘This is a real ‘line in the sand’ moment for V2G tech. We have shown that this technology is capable of helping to balance our future, green grid, to the benefit of people and the planet. 

‘We’ve proved what is possible with the technology and cars that are currently on the market, and this is only going to grow. Soon we will have millions of electric cars sitting on driveways capable of storing and exporting green energy back to the grid when it needs it most – and once the vehicle to grid proposition is ready to be launched, these cars will help to support our renewables expansion and taking us a huge step closer to net zero.’

Director of Technology and Innovation at Octopus Electric Vehicles

Separate analysis from Octopus Energy’s electric vehicles arm shows that if the trial results were extrapolated across a whole year, the EVs could realise a profit of around £62 million per year, while also saving non-participating customers money through grid-balancing cost reductions.

It doesn’t just benefit the system, either. Further Octopus analysis shows customers could realise a potential saving of up to £840 per year, compared with unscheduled charging on a flat rate tariff – putting money back in people’s pockets at times of record high energy costs. 

Reducing energy bills

Several large car brands – including Hyundai and Volkswagen – have pledged to include V2G technology in their new EVs, further emphasising the potential of the technology.  

When a service is up and running, consumers could save cash off their energy bills as the BM incentivises the use of their car battery as a balancing device, contributing to reduced balancing costs across the network. This will help to reduce bills for all energy consumers. 

Octopus Energy Group’s Kraken platform works in the background to match this customer schedule with grid signals to provide flexibility as a service and seamless charging to customers.

If those signals occur outside the tariff windows – which are typically 23:30-05:30 for import and 16:00-19:00 for export – customers will still benefit from the lowest import and highest export prices thanks to Kraken’s flexibility and customer-first approach.

‘Vehicle-to-grid technology opens the door for everyone to engage in our electricity system, in a way that we can all benefit from. 

‘The next steps for us are to take these learnings and work with industry on how we develop and deploy a balancing mechanism service for V2G.
‘The trial findings will also influence future innovation projects, including the CrowdFlex project we are currently developing with industry, to establish additional routes for consumer engagement in electricity networks.’

Corporate affairs director, National Grid ESO

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