Nissan’s announcements that it is to launch a vehicle-to-grid pilot scheme alongside a new domestic battery system sought to blur the lines between manufacturing giant and clean energy company.
The automobile manufacturer assembled journalists and industry analysts alike to announce the new products earlier this week and immediately penned the V2G trial as “groundbreaking”. It’s a first for the UK, but builds on a long-feted concept of an entire smart, connected and decentralised grid.
Speaking to Clean Energy News energy storage consultant and solar industry veteran Ray Noble said that the potential benefits of such a system were huge. “The car manufacturer’s investment in EVs is now providing benefits to the UK energy supply. This technology advancement could well change the shape of the future energy market and the government must take account of this, and the impact on renewables, in their future energy mix,” he said.
In essence, electric vehicles participating in the trial will be able to not just purchase electricity from the grid, but sell it back when it’s not required. It proposes to bring together all manner of possibilities, particularly for commercial enterprises wholly reliant on vehicle use.
Company cars, warehouse forklifts or delivery vans could be charged overnight when tariff prices are low, used throughout the day and then re-sell unused electricity after the standard working day has finished. That the end of the working day coincides with the evening peak adds to the convenience.
It’s a system based entirely on market forces and one that, in theory, benefits everybody. Businesses can experience significant bonuses of deploying carbon-neutral electric vehicles, the C&I sector can progress even further towards decarbonisation targets and the national grid benefits from grid balancing issues.
Andrew Padmore, chief executive at clean energy specialists Egnida, revealed that his company was already engaged in linking the various facets of a widely-available and accepted V2G network, but warned of a number of obstacles that will need to be surpassed first and foremost.
“The main barriers we see to customers trialling these solutions themselves is that firstly they do not know what electricity supply contract structuring options are available to them to make this work and secondly they assume they can replace their existing fleets with EVs and just operate in the same way. In practice, more up front analysis, design and EV operational input is required,” he said.
The pilot scheme itself is relatively modest. Just a hundred Nissan LEAF and e-NV200 electric vans will be selected to participate in the trial, and the charging technology of international energy firm Enel will have to be used. The trial’s results will then be carefully analysed before any further movement.
But a separate release on the same day as the V2G and battery storage products gave an indication as to just how far Nissan sees the technology progressing. It has worked with architect firm Foster + Partners to produce a concept vision for the “Fuel Station of the Future”, based around a connected network wherein a consumer’s car links with their home, workplace and the national grid.
“Technology holds many of the answers for the challenges we face in our cities today. However, the true power comes when those technologies are integrated with each other and the world around us,” Paul Willcox, chairman of Nissan Europe, said.
Nissan has a clear image for how it foresees V2G systems. Businesses quick to embrace that vision could be at the forefront to make significant savings off the back of it.