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Vehicle-to-grid technology tested in ‘home laboratory’

07 February 2018 Salford, The University of

Tests start to establish baseline benefits of electric cars linking to home energy supply.

ENERGY scientists are testing the potential of electric cars to supplement energy in the home.

By recharging when demand is low and returning energy to the grid when it is high, so-called vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology could help householders generate income and support the increasing use of renewables.

The University of Salford’s Energy House, which has an international reputation for testing energy efficiency in the home, has been selected to help figure out how the idea might work in practice.

By building up models of energy flows – usage, storage and generation – in a typical home when it is connected to an electric car, the industry and the Government hope to drive a major UK effort to develop the technology and business case for V2G.

Will Swan, professor of building energy performance at the University of Salford, said: “At any given time, 95 percent of cars are parked and their the batteries free, which means stored power can potentially flow from car to house.

“We’ll be testing this in Energy House which can be subjected to simulated climates – sun, wind, snow and rain as well as allowing us to control countless energy use scenarios. It’s the perfect living laboratory to test what V2G can do.”

The Energy House team are funded to carry out a feasibility study by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, in partnership with Innovate UK.

The researchers will be working with partners Honda, who are supplying the first charging point of its kind in the UK at the University, Good Energy, and Salford-based Upside Energy, which runs a cloud service to aggregate energy stored by homes and businesses.

Upside has created a Virtual Energy Store™ that sells to the grid and shares the revenue with device owners and manufacturers.

In order for the technology to be optimised, a much clearer view of the market is needed, as Prof Swan explains: “It’s not as simple as drawing on the car battery when you need it because there are so many variables such as the weather, household activity, and so on.

“In terms of energy efficiency, we know that renewables are problematic because they don’t always generate power when want it. Hence storage options are increasingly important.

 “We can look at the car or other vehicle as both a battery and a storage tool, but we need to understand better how all these elements relate.”

Neil Jones, programme manager at Upside Energy, said: "These tests at a single house level (Energy House) will help us establish a baseline of data which could be scaled up to hundreds if not thousands of homes and vehicles and start to identify what services can be offered to householders and the grid in the future."

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