Ebbs and Flows of Energy Systems (EFES) Project

EFES-final-logo-01What is this project about?

Electric vehicles (EVs) could have the potential to transform the way we use energy on a daily basis. Power cuts and expensive peak demand tariffs could become a thing of the past. Could you power your house with your car? Could you power your car with your house? Would you like to be paid to drive your car to work and power your office block? What impact will EVs have on our electricity prices? These, and more, are the questions we will be hoping to answer through this two and a half year project.

How will we achieve this?

Partially funded by Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) the project will seek to manage, improve and reduce the electricity use of UK buildings, from single properties through to large commercial premises such as science and business parks.  This will be achieved through development of three key technologies;

  • Virtual Power Plant (VPP) – a cloud based ‘power plant’, capable of utilising electricity storage assets such as static batteries or vehicles through a software package, controlled by electricity providers.
  • Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Unit – EVs will plug into this unit to provide both charging for the vehicle and enable it to act as a battery store, either to provide electricity directly to a building or to the National Grid using the VPP.
  • Building Energy Management System (BEMS) – this will provide the control functionality for the V2G unit, enabling the unit to communicate with both a building and the VPP to determine the most appropriate charging or discharging option.

Furthermore, the project will look to evaluate the impact the technology being developed will have on our local energy systems through computational modelling, physical demonstration projects and engagement with the public.  Specifically, research will seek to establish if there is a financial and environmental benefit to installing this equipment in the home and work place.

How might it work?

Electricity demand across the UK varies depending upon the time of day and year.  For example, peak electricity demand for the UK is between 4 and 7pm on a week day.  This is because everyone has arrived home from work and turned on multiple appliances, causing a massive increase in electricity requirements to the National Grid.  Currently this is supported by large fossil fuel power stations that run around the clock to anticipate any increase in the base demand. However, we are exploring whether this additional demand could instead be provided through utilising the excess electricity stored in an EV or battery storage asset, redistributing the electricity across the local network and as such reducing the requirements on traditional power stations.  Any EV owner could be able to participate, signing up to a scheme offered by the VPP provider.  The provider could then offer them a price for the electricity in their electric vehicle and if the EV owner agrees, will use the electricity stored in their vehicle.  The BEMS until will enable the vehicle user to specify where they will be travelling next and how much electricity they will require, ensuring they are always able to use the vehicle whenever they need it.