Powerloop: Vehicle-to-Grid in Action
Powerloop* is providing a crucial insight into the viability of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), as well as helping improve the customer experience for the installation of other smart technologies. The project is run by Octopus Electric Vehicles in partnership with UK Power Networks, Energy Saving Trust, ENGIE EV Solutions, Open Energi, Guidehouse and our sister company, Octopus Energy, Here, we discuss how Powerloop works, why V2G is so important, and how learnings from this project are helping UK Power Networks improve the broader smart technology onboarding process!
What is V2G?
Put simply, V2G enables an electric vehicle (EV) owner to be both the generator and the consumer of energy, using bi-directional charging technology to allow the user to charge and discharge their EV. This means that, unlike household appliances that can only receive energy, such as a kettle, the car’s battery becomes an energy asset that can transfer energy back to the grid.
How does Powerloop work, and why is it important?
Powerloop is V2G in action, and is still open to new participants (just five spots remain!). Combining the Nissan LEAF with the Wallbox Quasar V2G charger, Powerloop is gathering real world data to help show how V2G can be a valuable asset to the UK’s energy network by helping flatten peak grid demand and making the most of renewable energy whilst using an EV. One current participant, Sarah, cited this dual-benefit as being an important reason for getting involved, saying:
‘When I heard about V2G/Powerloop it provided the additional incentive to decide to go for it [the LEAF]. I buy into the idea of flattening the peak to improve the ability of green energy to meet demand at peak times’
How does it actually work? On the charging side of things, Powerloop encourages participants to charge their car during the night, when grid demand is low and renewable energy supply is often high. During times of peak electricity demand, between 6-9pm, participants are encouraged to plug their Nissan LEAF into the Wallbox charger to provide unused energy stored in the car battery back to the grid. As long as the participant plugs in by 6pm, and leaves it plugged in until 5am the following morning, this counts as a full charging cycle, allowing the car to both discharge and then recharge for the day ahead in accordance with the user’s required battery level. Algorithms in place ensure the car’s state of charge never drops below 30%, meaning there is always enough charge to use during the evening if required. The 6pm-5am timeframe has been set to make it as easy as possible for users to complete a full cycle, lining up with the times people tend to arrive home and then leave the next day.
Focusing on the car, the Nissan LEAF is currently the only vehicle able to do bi-directional charging through a CHAdeMO connection. The LEAF is an ideal car for day-to-day tasks, with Sarah, the participant mentioned previously, saying that after using the car for a few months, it has been ‘perfect for everyday journeys’. As we know, EVs are constantly increasing in popularity, as evidenced by the 185.9% increase in EV registrations in 2020 compared to 2019. By using a LEAF, Powerloop participants are joining this electric movement which is revolutionising transport both here in the UK and abroad.
The Nissan LEAF charging up!
But why is this important? By combining the benefits of an EV with V2G technology, Powerloop enables more conscious energy consumption whilst at the same time helping reduce pollution caused by vehicles.
As we move to a greener energy system, one of the main issues the grid has to tackle is the intermittent and unpredictable generation from renewables - energy production may not always match times of demand. It can often be windy in the middle of the night when electricity use is typically lower. By charging an EV during the night, the car can make use of this renewable energy at a time when electricity is often cheaper compared to peak times.
People are already doing this without V2G thanks to smart charging, but what makes Powerloop different and so exciting is that, by being able to discharge any stored energy back to the grid during peak demand hours, the car battery will help reduce our dependence on fossil fuel generation used at these times. This is just the beginning in terms of V2G, and we are leading the way by trialling this tech to learn how to bring it to the mass market. If this technology is rolled out on a national scale, we could see a fundamental change in how we interact with the grid, creating a smart, more sustainable energy system!
Benefiting the broader smart-tech environment - learnings from customer onboarding
In addition to the above, Powerloop is also helping shape the future of other smart technologies. UK Power Networks’ new Smart Connect Portal has been developed alongside Powerloop, making the grid connection process easier for EV chargers, heat pumps and batteries. Crucially, through collaboration with Octopus Electric Vehicles and by listening to real customer feedback from the Powerloop application process, UK Power Networks has developed a portal to streamline the process with a high level of transparency. The Smart Connect Portal provides clear evidence to show that individuals participating in the Powerloop project can truly help shape the future of smart technology, both in relation to V2G and beyond.
If you would like to find out more about Powerloop, we are currently running free online workshops discussing the project in more detail, as well as providing those in attendance with the opportunity to ask any questions. To sign up, head over to our Eventbrite page and pick a time that suits you! Alternatively, if you have any pressing questions, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.
*Powerloop is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV), with Innovate UK acting as delivery partner. UK Power Networks contribution is funded through the Network Innovation Allowance.