A volt from the blue: How electric vehicles can give back to the grid

While the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) has been on a consistent incline, only two-fifths of UK drivers are planning on purchasing an EV as their next car.

Peter O’ Driscoll, managing director, RingGo, considers whether vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging will help to convince drivers to move away from petrol and diesel


egistration figures from SMMT show an uptick in electric vehicle (EV) purchases,

with diesel down by 38% and EVs up by 195%. The government has helped spur along the uptake of electric cars through its plan to ban new UK petrol and diesel cars by 2030. EVs, however, do not have the lion share

of the market – there’s still some persuasion that needs to happen to boost widescale change. RingGo’s research reflects this, finding that only two-fifths of UK drivers say that they are planning on buying an EV for their next car, despite 76% of the population admitting that they are aware of the environmental impacts of driving. So, how can drivers be convinced to move

away from petrol and diesel? Enter vehicle-to- grid (V2G) charging. This is another string to the EV bow and something that will likely help motivate drivers to make the switch.

HOW IT WORKS The concept works by enabling energy stored within electric vehicles to be drawn back to the national electric network, or the grid. Normally, when there’s a surplus of electricity in the grid, EVs siphon off charge for their batteries. However, during times of peak demand on the grid or when there’s a shortage of electricity, EVs can discharge their juice back to the grid for a profit. A parked electric vehicle can be left plugged

into the grid. If the driver has opted to be part of a V2G charging programme, then software can calculate when that car should tactically receive and supply energy. Typically, these vehicles charge at night when energy demand is low and send power back to the grid during the day. The system is a compelling reason for drivers

to make the switch to an EV, as it empowers drivers to contribute to a wider, global cause. OVO Energy, the clean energy provider, recently initiated a V2G trial programme which connects cars across UK residences to form a virtual power plant. From the trial, the energy

provider projected that, with 5.5 million 2G capable EVs in 2030, the fleet could provide 8.6 TWh of balancing over the year, meeting 77% of the grid’s needs. Despite these environmental benefits,

RingGo’s research found that almost a third (32%) of drivers who are open to EVs require a greater availability of charging points to make the switch, whilst one in five (20%) of those currently not considering an EV would consider buying one if their range were greater. Additional hesitancies to make the leap highlight the need for greater knowledge about the capabilities and benefits of electric vehicles. Essentially, changing ingrained behaviours

will be difficult in the lead up to 2030. But now is the time for the government and local authorities to highlight how each individual can contribute to the future of the planet by simply making the switch.

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING V2G charging is a gift for both drivers and the environment. Financially speaking, drivers have

Sources: expected-supply-crunch.html


(V2G) charging, energy stored within electric vehicles can be drawn back to the national electric network, or the grid

the potential to save a couple of hundreds of pounds per year through the V2G programme. Estimates on money saved vary with energy supplier – E.ON Energy approximates that customers could save £308 per annum, whereas OVO Energy suggests that customers could save as much as £800 per year. In addition, when implemented at scale, the

system offers exciting opportunities to promote sustainable energy supply. For instance, one of the major aspects that counts against wind power is that its capability fluctuates with the weather. However, EVs could help stabilise this energy source. EVs could store surplus energy produced during windy periods and then supply it back when there’s a lull – reducing wind power intermittency.

WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON Many of the big benefits of V2G charging depend on EVs being more popular. In many ways, attitudes to electric vehicles are still in their infancy. Even though the 2030 ban looms a decade away, much work needs to be done to first take drivers off the fence about electric vehicles and inspire purchases. Once there’s mass uptake, then the number-

crunching with mass V2G charging starts to look really great. It will be a piecemeal process to promote large uptake, but V2G charging is another exciting tick in the pros column for EVs.


EV charging points

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