The potential of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology to balance the national electricity grid at scale is to be investigated in a UK trial by V2G consortium Powerloop in which EV drivers will participate in electricity system operator National Grid’s Balancing Mechanism marketplace, designed to solve multiple grid issues in real time.

To facilitate the trial, National Grid has not applied the usual thresholds for participation. The initiative is one of the first times a smaller, non-traditional energy resource has participated in this market, and Powerloop is the first V2G trial to do so.

The aim of the project is to see if the system facilitates easy participation of energy resources many orders of magnitude smaller than current players.

First launched in 2018, Powerloop is a V2G consortium project run by Octopus Electric Vehicles and its parent Octopus Energy in partnership with UK Power Networks (UKPN), Energy Saving Trust, Open Energi, CPS, and Guidehouse.

Octopus calculates that 10 million EVs discharging at the same time could match the UK’s peak daily electricity demand. There are currently just over 30 million cars on the road in the UK.

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.

The project, taking place in South East England, the operating area of distribution network operator UKPN, allows Nissan LEAF drivers in combination with the Wallbox Quasar V2G charger to export their car’s battery power back to the grid, gathering real world data to help show how V2G can contribute to the UK’s energy network.

Powerloop supports owners of electric vehicle with bi-directional charging technology to be both the generator and the consumer of energy. The car’s battery becomes a mobile energy asset that can transfer energy back to the grid during times of peak demand. And if EV owners do it enough times every month, they even make money back for it.

Fiona Howarth, CEO of Octopus Electric Vehicles, says, “To reach our Net Zero targets we need a smart energy system – where we store energy when the wind blows and sun shines, to use it when we want. The rise of electric cars not just cleans up our roads, but also provides a huge amount of battery storage .

“Vehicle-to-Grid tech allows us to store the green energy in our cars for when we need it most – and the Octopus Powerloop trial is a market leading demonstration of doing this with real drivers using cars on their driveways to power the grid.

“It is hugely exciting that we are forging that path here in the UK – setting the bar for a globally smarter energy system.”

Isabelle Haigh, Head of National Control for National Grid adds, “Electric vehicles are playing a key role in helping the transport and power sectors decarbonise, with EV smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology set to bring significant flexibility to the grid as Britain transitions to net zero.

“Our Future Energy Scenarios forecasts up to 45% of households engaging with V2G services by 2050, potentially unlocking significant additional capacity on consumers’ driveways.

“We’re excited to be a part of a project that is blazing a trail for EVs to fulfil this potential and actively participate in the Balancing Mechanism. Powerloop is a great opportunity to understand how small-scale flexibility opportunities can help us balance the grid, and is another example of the benefits of widening participation to new players in the market.”