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Driving the EV revolution with V2G

Global warming today stands at 1.17°C above pre-industrial levels and rising. Staying on track with the Paris Agreement commitment of not exceeding global warming of +1.5°C means we only have about ten years to halve global emissions, which are still climbing and will continue to climb until nations collectively commit to much more aggressive actions.

Transport of people and goods accounts for 28% of UK carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), equal to 124 million tonnes of CO2 each year. Road transport is by far the biggest contributor of transport CO2 emissions, therefore its decarbonisation is a crucial step towards a cleaner and healthier future for everyone.

The UK government’s announcement of a 10-point green plan to make the UK carbon-neutral by 2050 included a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, ten years earlier than initially planned. This positive announcement provides a huge opportunity for organisations to lead the way and electrify their fleets.

The coronavirus outbreak has taken its toll on car sales in the UK which hit a 28-year low in 2020, however electric vehicle (EV) sales proved more resilient than other vehicle segments. Last year, a total of 108,205 EVs were sold, a 185.9% year-on-year increase and a rise from 1.6% to 6.6% of the overall UK car market.  According to recent forecasts, EV sales could reach 200,000 in 2021, almost doubling last year’s figures. So yes! We are definitely starting to see the EV reality coming into play.

This change can be seen as either an opportunity or a problem, depending on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist. If all these new EVs plug in at once, they will pose a huge challenge to the grid in addressing the extra power demand required. Though, if all these cars plug in and charge and discharge in ways that optimise the use of batteries, they could support the grid and make it more reliable, efficient and responsive.

A profound change of our global energy system is required and that is why a solution like vehicle-to-grid (V2G) is clearly worth exploring. In standard EVs, you plug in and the energy flows from the grid into the car. V2G goes one step further. It refers to the process whereby a plug-in EV can both import and export power. This makes EVs much more than just cars, but rather power stations on wheels.

According to “A Fresh Look at V2G Value Propositions”, published by Cenex in 2020, V2G offers value beyond revenue generation, such as resilience for continuity of supply, personal self-sufficiency to reduce carbon emissions, a benefit to society by accelerated decarbonisation of the energy system, and enhanced battery management to extend the life of the EV.

At Cenex, we are very excited to be part of E-Flex, a consortium-led project part-funded by Innovate UK. E-Flex aims to demonstrate V2G technology in real-world conditions, managing commercial and public fleets in high-density urban areas in the UK. We see this project as an opportunity to demonstrate the role V2G can play in reducing the carbon impact and the demand that EVs put on our energy networks, while proving the economic benefits for fleet operators.

Along with 80 active, pioneering V2G projects around the world, we want to change the way we use EVs, going further than ever before. Our goal is to uncover the value of V2G so that fleet managers can make the decision to invest in electric, integrate those EVs into the grid and create opportunities for great revenue streams and business models for V2G.

Starting from zero two years ago, the E-Flex consortium has worked hard to tackle technical, legal, commercial and behavioural challenges. And our continuing efforts are working to prove that V2G can benefit the energy system and fleet operators in ways that we may have not even imagined. We are proud to serve and promote the V2G ethos while building a future where V2G will not challenge the norm, but will be the norm itself!