Storm Doris Blacks Out Britain

Here is the United Kingdom Met Office’s severe weather warning map for today:

According to the Met Office forecast for the West Midlands:

Some very strong winds are expected on Thursday in association with storm Doris with gusts of 60-70 mph likely, and 70-80 mph on coasts and hills.

There is still some uncertainty about the track of storm Doris, but increasing confidence that there will be widespread disruption across parts of England and Wales.

Earlier this morning we took a snapshot of Western Power Distribution’s live power cut map. It looked like this:

It’s now 10 AM on Thursday February 23rd, and WPD’s map now looks like this:

 

[Edit - Feb 23rd 12:15]

It’s now 12:15 PM on Thursday February 23rd. Over 20,000 properties are now without electric power in Western Power Distribution’s West Midlands region alone:

Electricity Northwest are tweeting helpful information to their online customers:

So are UK Power Networks:

However if you’ve just had a power cut you’d need to have a UPS for your PC in order to read those helpful messages! Or a fully charged mobile device with nearby comms towers still powered up!

 

[Edit - Feb 23rd 13:15]

It’s now 13:15 on Thursday February 23rd. Over 30,000 properties are now without electric power across Western Power Distribution’s East and West Midlands regions:

Scottish & Southern Energy Networks have issued a news release:

SSEN engineers are making good progress in reconnecting customers affected by damage to overhead lines and network equipment. Since midnight, SSEN engineers have successfully restored power to over 22,000 homes, with approximately 5,000 homes currently without power. All faults are fully resourced and all customers are expected to be restored tonight.

The worst of the conditions have been observed in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire where a wind gust of 65mph was recorded in Odiham.

SSEN has more than 1,000 engineering, technical and support staff on duty. Ahead of the storm, engineering teams were mobilised to key locations to minimise disruption and inconvenience to customers.

Customer service teams have been contacting over 7,000 customers on our Priority Service Register to check on their wellbeing in case they need additional help.

 

[Edit - Feb 23rd 14:45]

It’s now 14:45 on Thursday February 23rd. Over 45,000 properties are now without electric power across Western Power Distribution’s East and West Midlands regions:

 

[Edit - Feb 23rd 16:00]

It’s now 16:00 on Thursday February 23rd. WPD’s live power cut map is down for maintenance:

It’s obviously fairly breezy across the United Kingdom today! Let’s take a look at the current UK electricity generation mix at the moment, courtesy of GridWatch:

Western Power Distribution have issued a severe weather update:

We are currently exceptionally busy within WPD with the East and West Midlands area being especially affected in particular by the effects of Storm Doris so far.

Issued on: Thursday 23rd February – 3pm

The West Midlands has been significantly affected with almost 22,000 customers currently off supply with the vast majority being affected between 09:00 and 12:00 with Hereford, Ludlow, Worcester, Telford and Stoke suffering the worst effects.

During the last hour the fault rate in East Midlands has picked up where we have around 10,000 without power as the storm is now tracking eastwards as expected.

Our engineers are currently working hard to restore supplies as quickly and safely as possible, and we have additional staff in our Contact Centres, Control Rooms and operational depots.

The South West and South Wales areas were impacted earlier today, but not exceptionally so. Both areas have fewer than 3,000 customers affected and all incidents are currently resourced and being worked on.

Electricity North West have issued a press release, which begins:

Engineers from Electricity North West are working in difficult conditions today to restore power as Storm Doris hits the North West.

The region’s power network operator has restored supplies to around 5,000 properties throughout the morning following the Met Office’s amber weather warning for severe gales of 70 to 80mph and a yellow warning for snow to hit the North West today.

Around 2,500 properties remain without power as flying debris has hit lines and high winds make access difficult for repair teams. Properties are affected mainly in Lancashire, Manchester and the Peak district including250 properties currently without power in Horwich, Bolton.

 

[Edit - Feb 23rd 17:00]

It’s now 17:00 on Thursday February 23rd. WPD’s live power cut map is still down. However SSEN have issued a 4 PM update:

SSEN engineers are making good progress in reconnecting customers affected by damage to overhead lines and network equipment. Since midnight, power has been restored to over 29,000 homes, with approximately 8,000 homes currently without power. All faults are fully-resourced and we are working to restore power to all customers tonight.

The worst of the conditions have been observed in Oxfordshire, where around 5,000 customers are currently without power, as well as parts of Berkshire and Hampshire.

 

[Edit - Feb 23rd 18:30]

It’s now 18:30 on Thursday February 23rd. WPD’s live power cut map is still down! SP Energy Networks have now issued a press release:

The MET Office Amber warnings remain in place until 8pm tonight as Storm Doris continues to cause significant impact across the UK.

SP Energy Networks distribution licence area in Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales has experienced extreme weather conditions today, with wind gusts of over 90mph experienced in exposed areas. Over the course of today we have restored power to over 50,000 customers impacted by this severe weather.

Our restoration efforts have been hampered today by the gale force winds making it unsafe for our engineering teams to work at height. The winds have now reduced somewhat, albeit we are still seeing wind gusts in excess of 50mph in exposed areas.
However, where it is safe to do so, our restoration efforts will continue this evening and tonight. As a result of the extensive damage experienced today, we now expect that some customers will be without power overnight.

Where possible, we will endeavour to make contact with those customers impacted to discuss welfare options. We have been working with the Red Cross who will help support our vulnerable customers impacted by today’s events.

Electricity North West have issued another press release:

Engineers from Electricity North West will work into the evening and through the night to restore the final properties affected by Storm Doris.

The region’s power network operator has restored supplies to around 6,700 properties throughout the day following the winds of 70 to 80mph in the North West.

800 properties remain without power in a number of small pockets, mainly across Lancashire as flying debris and fallen trees have hit power lines in the region.

Western Power Distribution have issued another severe weather update:

The current situation within WPD is still exceptionally busy, with the East Midlands, and even more so the West Midlands areas still having large numbers of customers off supply due to the effects of Storm Doris that passed through our area today.

Issued on: Thursday 23rd February – 6pm

There are approximately 20,000 customers in the West Midlands off supply and we have restored around a further 20,000 throughout the day. As of the last update the worst affected areas have been Hereford, Ludlow, Worcester, Telford and Stoke.

There are currently fewer than 10,000 customers off supply in the East Midlands with us having restored a further 10,000 approximately throughout the day.

Whilst busy, the volume of faults affecting the South West and South Wales have not been too bad, with all incidents being worked on and resourced. There are currently fewer than 1,500 customers off throughout the two areas and staff from those areas have been moved into the Midlands to assist where required.

Our contact centre has dealt with over 22,000 calls from customers with an average speed of response time of 6.7 seconds.

We have had one helicopter airborne today flying from Nottingham that has inspected two EHV faults in Stoke and Telford. Tomorrow, all four aircraft will be available from first light to aid and assist in repairs as required.

 

[Edit - Feb 23rd 20:00]

It’s now 20:00 on the evening of Thursday February 23rd. WPD’s live power cut map is operational again, and it’s moved to a dedicated subdomain! Here is what it reveals:

 

[Edit - Feb 23rd 22:30]

This will be our last update for today, at 22:30 on the evening of Thursday February 23rd. First of all WPD’s live power cut map, zoomed in on the Midlands:

Next the 20:00 update from Scottish and Southern:

Since midnight, power has been restored to over 30,000 homes, with approximately 4,000 homes currently without power. All faults are fully-resourced and engineers are working to restore power to all customers tonight.

Storm Doris brought severe winds, with gusts of up to 65mph, across the region. The worst of the conditions were felt in Oxfordshire, where around 2,500 customers are currently without power. Extra linesman and repair teams have been despatched to the area to aid restoration efforts. Parts of Berkshire and Hampshire were also affected.

Finally the 21:30 update from Scottish Power:

Over the course of the day our distribution licence area in Cheshire, Merseyside & North Wales has experienced extreme weather conditions, including winds in excess of 90mph. As a result of these storm force winds, our network has sustained a level of damage resulting in a loss of power for some of our customers. Despite the extremely challenging conditions, and the restrictions that our teams have faced working at heights in such extreme conditions, our engineers have worked tirelessly over the course of today to restore power to as many homes as possible, restoring power to over 66,000 people. However, a number of customers will remain without power overnight and we will make every effort to contact these customers tonight.

We continue to work to maximise our resource levels, with additional engineering teams from our Scottish distribution area already dispatched to support the restoration efforts as well as continuing to work with our contracting partners to secure additional resources. We will also be looking to mobilise helicopters tomorrow morning to help the fault finding process on some of the more challenging terrain.

For a warming nightcap after the blustery day here’s the GridWatch UK electricity generation mix tonight, including the minor contributors:

Energy Island and Other Ways to Store Energy with Water

The latest issue of the IEEE’s Spectrum magazine contains a most interesting article:

4 New Ways to Store Renewable Energy With Water”

The introduction outlines the problem:

In the United States, 97 percent of utility-scale storage in 2014 was in pumped-storage hydroelectric plants, according to research by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee.

In traditional pumped hydro, a dam separates a lower reservoir from an upper reservoir. When a utility company needs to store energy, the system pumps water from the bottom to the top. It generates electricity when water flows back down through a turbine. In 2015, Citibank estimated that the cost of power from pumped hydroelectric was about 5 percent of the cost of grid-scale battery-stored electricity. The problem is that there are many places that consume high amounts of power but don’t have geological opportunities to build conventional pumped-storage plants.

Now here at V2G UK we’re obviously of the opinion that the Li-ion batteries of a future electrified transport fleet are going to provide a lot of distributed energy storage. Alternative forms of energy storage are going to be needed too though, and the lower the cost of such storage the better! The IEEE goes on to consider four novel storage technologies that utilise water. A commodity of which we have plentiful supplies in and around the South West peninsula!

In a variation of the concept of a tidal lagoon being proposed over the Bristol Channel in Swansea is DNV’s “Energy Island“. Instead of relying on tides to fill the lagoon,:

For now, this energy island is only in the concept stage. DNV GL, based in Norway, is running a business case analysis with partners in the Netherlands and discussing plans to build a large-scale system.

In DNV GL’s energy island concept, a dike encloses a 10- by 6-kilometer section of the North Sea off the Dutch coast. To store electricity, the system pumps interior water up and out to sea. Letting water flow through a turbine on its way back generates electricity.

Unlike with traditional pumped storage, the inner lake can be built out in the sea as long as the seafloor has a sufficiently large layer of clay to prevent the ocean from seeping back in. There would also be some trade-off between more energy storage gained from a deeper ocean and increased construction cost.

Next an energy storage system that is undergoing trials – Stored Energy in the Sea (StEnSEA for short), which:

Is a hollow concrete sphere with a built-in pump turbine. It sits on the seafloor and, in its discharged state, is filled with water. To store energy, the system uses electricity to pump water out into the sea. When discharging, the pump works in reverse, generating electricity as water refills the sphere.

In November, Fraunhofer IWES installed a 3-meter-wide pilot sphere in southern Germany’s Lake Konstanz at a depth of around 100 meters. Following a year-long feasibility study, the team is now developing the concept for a 5-megawatt, 20-megawatt-hour full-scale system.

Next up is Canadian startup Hydrostor which aims to store compressed air in bags underwater:

Hydrostor’s system consists of weighted-down balloon like bags that are placed underwater and connected to a system on the shore. To store energy, it uses electricity to compress the air and fill the underwater bags. (A heat exchanger and underwater bath capture heat lost during compression to help preserve efficiency.) When electricity is needed, the air flows back out of the bag into a machine that expands it to drive a turbine. [See “Stashing Energy in Underwater Bags,” IEEE Spectrum, August 2014.]

Hydrostor commissioned a 660-kilowatt pilot plant with undisclosed storage capacity in November 2015 at Toronto Island, and the company is currently optimizing the performance. It could be followed by a 1-MW, 6-MWh storage system in Aruba later this year.

Finally there is the combination of a wind farm with built-in pumped hydro storage from Naturspeicher:

Wind turbines are built on the top of a hill with a pair of water storage reservoirs at their bases that raise them by an extra 40 meters above a typical turbine. A man-made lake sits at the bottom of the hill; energy is stored when the water is pumped up into the reservoirs, and electricity is produced when the water falls back down to the lake.

Naturspeicher plans to have a wind farm on line by the end of 2017 in the hills of the Swabian-Franconian Forest, in Germany, with pumped storage following by late 2018. It expects the system, when completed, to store 70 MWh and deliver up to 16 MW.

I wonder if any of these “low cost” energy storage systems will find their way over to South West England at some point in the not too distant future?

Will a Cornish Lithium Gigafactory Rival Open Soon?

V2G have recently relocated to North Cornwall. As a consequence I spent yesterday afternoon with Scott Mann, my new MP, at a meeting organised by the Federation of Small Businesses in Launceston:

 

Scott imparted a piece of news that hadn’t previously appeared on my radar screen. It seems there’s lots of lithium to be found down old Cornish tin mines! In a news release last month Cornish Lithium Ltd. announced:

Cornish Lithium, today announces that it plans to explore for, and to potentially develop, lithium contained in underground hot spring brines in Cornwall.

The presence of lithium in hot spring brines in Cornwall has been known since the mid-1800s but this was regarded as a curiosity, given there was no developed market for the metal at that time. New technology now offers the potential to extract lithium from these hot spring brines and to supply product to the rapidly growing battery market for electric cars and for power storage.

Cornish Lithium has entered into definitive mineral rights agreements with Strongbow Exploration (listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX-V: SBW) and Mineral Exploration Limited, and has signed a Heads of Agreement with Tregothnan Estates, to carry out exploration for, and development of, lithium in hot spring brines within the majority of the mineral rights held by these entities.

Rights secured by Cornish Lithium will allow the Company to undertake what it believes to be the largest, single, unified mineral exploration programme in Cornwall’s history.

Here’s a map of the “areas around Camborne, Redruth and St. Day” that Cornish Lithium are looking into:

A bullet point further down the announcement also reveals that:

The Company has also secured rights to geothermal energy contained in the hot spring brines. It is anticipated that this energy will be utilised to generate power to reduce processing costs, but also may be used for other industries in the region.

Now as Scott Mann pointed out yesterday, with the potential for tidal and wave power as well as geothermal energy generation the South West Peninsula is well suited for “24/7″ renewable energy generation as well as the more familiar “intermittent” wind and solar photovoltaic electricity generation, so that aspect of the proposed project is also of great interest to us here at V2G UK. Getting back to the lithium bearing hot spring brines though, Cornish Lithium’s news release also points out that:

  • Cornish Lithium is an independent company that has been created to develop lithium in geothermal “hot spring brines” in Cornwall. The Company believes this could result in the creation of a new lithium production industry in Cornwall.
  • Cornish Lithium’s legal agreements encompass a large area centered around the area of Camborne, Redruth and St Day, but also cover other areas of Cornwall that the Company believes may be prospective for geothermal hot spring brines. Negotiations are ongoing with other owners of mineral rights within Cornwall.
  • The rapid growth in demand for lithium-ion batteries is now centre stage globally given the dramatic switch towards electric cars. Most major vehicle manufacturers have outlined an electric car development programme with some manufacturers expecting 25 per cent of their sales to be electric vehicles by 2025. It is considered vital that new sources of lithium are developed, particularly in Europe in order that European car manufacturers can gain secure access to the lithium required.
  • The UK Government has defined lithium as a metal of strategic importance to the country.
  • The majority of lithium produced today comes from South America, Australia and China.
  • Cornish Lithium is an independent company that has been created to develop lithium in geothermal “hot spring brines” in Cornwall. The Company believes this could result in the creation of a new lithium production industry in Cornwall.
  • Cornish Lithium’s legal agreements encompass a large area centered around the area of Camborne, Redruth and St Day, but also cover other areas of Cornwall that the Company believes may be prospective for geothermal hot spring brines. Negotiations are ongoing with other owners of mineral rights within Cornwall.

The following day Cornish Lithium announced that this video had been released:

You will note that at around 5:15 Cornish Lithium CEO Jeremy Wrathall says:

We’ll hopefully go into production, with a fair wind, maybe in the next 5 years or after 5 years. That’s the sort of timeframe we’re looking at.

Presumably within that timeframe we’ll also find out whether there will be another geothermal energy generation project to add to our map of geothermal energy generation projects in the United Kingdom!

The prospect of lithium being “mined” in Cornwall also raises the question of what might happen to the metal once it’s been extracted? Perhaps Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk will use the proposed Spaceport Cornwall nearby to ship the raw material to Tesla’s “Gigafactory” in Nevada? More realistically, perhaps Cornwall’s very own Lithium ion battery factory might be developed alongside Cornish Lithium’s hot brine wells?

Finally, for the moment at least, here’s some further information on Cornwall’s long mining heritage:

Nissan Installs V2G Chargers in the UK

There’s some extremely interesting news in my inbox this morning! According to a Nissan press release:

Nissan has announced today that its UK-based European R&D facility, Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) has become the first Nissan entity in the company’s network of European facilities to install vehicle-to-grid technology.

That does rather suggest that Nissan’s previously announced V2G equipped French regional office has yet to materialise. The press release continues:

Developed by Nissan in partnership with multinational energy provider Enel, eight V2G chargers have been installed at the site and will be available for all NTCE employees to use. The V2G chargers work with Nissan’s electric vehicles (EVs) to provide an intelligent energy management system capable of both charging the vehicles and allowing the cars to give stored energy from the vehicle’s battery back to the grid to help stabilise demand.

The move marks an important step in the company’s plans to make its Intelligent Mobility vision a reality in Europe. The integration of V2G technology brings to life Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision, demonstrating how zero-emission vehicles such as the 100 percent electric Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 and energy management technologies can work in tandem to create a cleaner, more efficient energy network.

Here’s a view of Nissan’s V2G equipped Cranfield car park:

There’s an interesting addendum as well, that I’d previously missed:

Today’s news follows the announcement in August that Nissan and Enel secured their first commercial V2G customer in Europe. Enel has installed ten V2G units at the headquarters of Danish utility company, Frederiksberg Forsyning, making it the first business to commercially integrate and host the V2G units.

UK Government Consultation on EV Charging Infrastructure

Earlier this year the OECD’s chief Economist recommended “fiscal stimulus and investment in infrastructure”. Perhaps Theresa May was listening? I ponder that point because earlier this week the Department for Transport unveiled their “Plans for more charging stations to encourage low emission vehicles”. According to the accompanying press release:

As part of our ongoing commitment to making transport greener and improving air quality, the Department for Transport is consulting on a series of measures that will make chargepoints more accessible, making it easier for drivers to recharge as demand for low emission vehicles increases. The measures are due to be included in the Modern Transport Bill.

The government has pledged more than £600 million over this parliament to further boost the ultra low emission vehicle market, which is going from strength to strength after the number of new ultra low emission vehicles registered rose by 250% in just 2 years.

According to Chris Grayling, the United Kingdom’s new Secretary of State for Transport:

  • We are committed to making transport cleaner and giving even more drivers the option of using a low emission vehicle as we strive to improve air quality across the country.
  • Our ambition is for nearly all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2040, and we are taking real steps to achieve this in the Modern Transport Bill. We now want to hear the views of businesses and the wider public.

That final bullet point is addressed by an announcement from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles:

This consultation seeks views on measures to support the uptake of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs), proposed for inclusion in the Modern Transport Bill.

The proposed measures relate to refueling and recharging infrastructure for ULEVs and focus specifically on:

  • the consumer experience of infrastructure
  • smart charging – infrastructure and the electricity system
  • the provision of infrastructure

The consultation closes at 11:45 PM on November 23rd 2016, so if you have strong views on the UK’s EV charging infrastructure in general or “smart charging” in particular now is the time to start putting your thoughts on virtual paper before sending them to Chris Grayling.

Perhaps I’ll have to precis this blog for him, since the consultation document itself summarises the proposed measures in the Modern Transport Bill as follows:

Consumer experience of infrastructure

a) Power to require operators of publicly accessible chargepoints and hydrogen refuelling stations, and networks, to provide data in an open source format on the geographical location and live availability of charging and refuelling infrastructure

b) Power to require operators of publicly accessible chargepoints and hydrogen refuelling stations, and networks, to ensure consumers can use them without the need for multiple memberships

c) Power to require operators of publicly accessible chargepoints and hydrogen refuelling stations, and networks, to publish transparent and comparable pricing information

d) Power to specify minimum standards of design and functionality for new publicly accessible chargepoints and hydrogen refuelling stations and networks

Smart charging – Infrastructure and the electricity system

e) Power to require infrastructure installed for the purposes of charging EVs to have ‘smart’ functionality to receive, understand and respond to signals sent by energy system participants (e.g. Distribution Network Operators (DNOs), energy suppliers, National Grid or other third parties) for the purposes of balancing energy supply and demand, and to require any technological functionality in EVs necessary to ensure ‘smart’ functionality

f) Power to require that technical standards used by operators of chargepoints and networks comply with the requirements set out in these measures are available and implemented on an open access basis. This includes making publicly accessible the necessary protocols to allow the charging infrastructure to communicate, understand and respond to signals or grid balancing

Provision of infrastructure

g) Power to require that operators of motorway service areas (MSAs) ensure a minimum provision of electric and hydrogen fuels for ULEVs at MSAs

h) Power to require a minimum provision of electric and hydrogen fuels for ULEVs at large fuel retailers

i) Power to franchise hydrogen refuelling

I’m sure Chris will be interested to discover more about “technical standards used by operators of chargepoints and networks… implemented on an open access basis”. Perhaps he’d like to learn more about vehicle-to-grid technology too?

Will the United Kingdom Become an Electric Nation?

Electric Nation is an OFGEM funded electric vehicle “smart charging” trial project which:

Aims to provide local electricity network operators with the tools to be able to ensure that their networks can cope with [the] massive new challenge [of local electricity networks becoming overloaded], whilst avoiding replacing cables and substations.

The always entertaining Bobby Llewellyn explains the problem with a little help from Roger Hey, Future Networks Manager of Western Power Distribution:

As Roger puts it:

The more cars that you put in a single area, the more stress that you’re going to put on. The network was never really designed to have so many things all in one place. It was designed for powering people’s homes, for cooking. It wasn’t originally designed for transportation fuel as well!

Carl Sanderson of BMW UK adds:

What happens when, let’s say, 25% of the motoring public are plugging in their car at a similar time? Are we going to see massive blackouts? Are the lights going to go out? I think it’s a key point that needs addressing.

Andy Eastlake of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership suggests a solution:

One of the challenges is energy storage, and if we’re putting a huge energy storage capability into the cars can we use that to balance the grid?

To which Bobby responds:

So what you’re talking about then is very much vehicle-to-grid, [energy] going both ways, communicating smartly, the whole development of that technology?

Andy outlines the case for “smart charging” instead of full blown V2G, but adds:

There’s a problem with electricity tariffs. We’re not allowed to have lots and lots of electricity tariffs because the perception was the market will be too complex, so that’s one of the things holding back electricity supply companies in delivering creative tariffs.

Ben Godfrey, also from WPD, tells Bobby something he didn’t already know:

Effectively for every EV we connect to the network, it’s adding an extra house.

and points out that:

The interesting thing about vehicles as well is that they follow where people go. People move from town centres in the day, which is where we have the big load, to domestic places in the evening which also mirrors the load on the electricity network. If we could use the storage built into the vehicles to move that power from cities out into domestic areas then that would replace the need for us to put in extra cables which is going to cause disruption to the network.

If we can harness vehicle-to-grid then that can save us from building any extra cables, digging up roads and causing lots of disruption.

Bobby adds:

And potentially from building new power stations. You could time shift that power to a certain extent.

All in all a remarkable good advertisement for full blown V2G at the launch of a “smart charging” trial! First things first though. Is your home currently connected to Western Power Distribution’s network?

If so and if you have or are getting an electric vehicle and if you haven’t yet taken advantage of the UK Government’s home charger grant you may well be interested in finding out more about the Electric Nation trial:

Electric Nation is seeking to recruit over 500 electric vehicle (EV) owners (including pure electric and plug-in hybrids) to take part in the largest trial of its kind. Participants will charge their cars at home using a smart charger which can manage when and how their vehicle battery charges. The findings of the trial will help electricity network operators to manage the effect of the additional load caused by charging EVs on the local electricity network. This is essential for the security of electricity networks in the future and the decarbonisation of the transport sector which is responsible for approximately 21% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Renault Launches New ZOE With “250 mile” Range

At the recent Paris Motor Show Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of Groupe Renault, announced that:

This month Renault surpassed 100,000 electric vehicles sold and now ZOE will travel up to 250 miles (400km) without recharging.

Over the past twelve months both Nissan and BMW have made similar announcements, but neither claimed as many miles as Renault. Eric Feunteun, Vice President of Renault’s electric vehicle programme, added that:

Renault has added a new dimension to the world of electric vehicles now that the ZOE’s range stands at 250 miles (400km) NEDC. It’s a breakthrough in all-electric motoring that will provide the range needed to make any motorist comfortable choosing electric.

Renault’s press release adds that:

In real-world driving, Renault estimates the new Z.E. 40 battery has a range of 186 miles (300km) in urban or suburban areas.

The range offered today by the new ZOE is the longest of any mainstream all-electric vehicle and motorists can take advantage of this step forward now. The ZOE is the best-selling electric vehicle in Europe and provides a real alternative to internal combustion- engine cars, since average daily commuting distances are well within the ZOE’s capabilities.

The new battery removes the final psychological barrier that stands in the way of buying an electric car, so-call ‘range anxiety’, since ZOE users can now travel further and enjoy a wider variety of driving situations without worry about charging.

Not exactly a range of 250 miles in “real life” driving then! We would of course like to test the range of the new ZOE for ourselves, but at the moment our local Renault dealer could only promise that they will be taking orders in November for delivery in January 2017. When a demonstrator might become available is, unfortunately, still unknown. Whilst we all wait for a test drive, here’s a video!

Nissan, Enel and National Grid Announce UK V2G Trial

Things seem to be looking up for vehicle-to-grid technology here in the United Kingdom! In a press release Nissan have just announced that:

Automotive industry leader Nissan and multinational power company Enel, today confirmed plans to launch a major vehicle-to-grid (V2G) trial – the first ever carried out in the UK. The trial will work by installing and connecting one hundred V2G units at locations agreed by private and fleet owners of the Nissan LEAF and e-NV200 electric van. By giving Nissan electric vehicle owners the ability to plug their vehicles into the V2G system, owners will have the flexibility and power to sell stored energy from their vehicle battery back to the National Grid.

Technical details of the trial are however conspicuous only by their absence from the announcement. I for one would love to know exactly how “sell[ing] stored energy from [a] vehicle battery back to the National Grid” is going to work in practice. The press release continues:

Today’s announcement heralds an exciting era for energy management in the UK. Not only will Nissan electric vehicle owners be able to play an active role in grid stability, providing an alternate source of income, but it will revolutionise how energy is supplied to the grid. Once scaled up, the V2G technology can become a game-changer for owners of Nissan EV in the UK as they become fully fledged and active participants in the UK energy market.

Personally I’d love to be the owner of an electric vehicle that is a “fully fledged and active participant in the UK energy market” but I don’t foresee that happening any time soon. I cannot help but wonder what Nissan UK and National Grid know that I don’t? Whilst I wait to find out the answer to that particular UK energy market conundrum, here’s a publicity picture of the associated hardware:

Perhaps the most pertinent comment in the announcement comes from Steven Holliday, the former CEO of National Grid plc, who points out that:

At National Grid we are constantly looking to the future to ensure we have the capacity to meet national energy demand – it’s our job to future proof the national transmission network.

The rapid uptake of Electric Vehicles is certainly positive yet could also be challenging if we don’t plan ahead to understand precisely what effect this new technology will have on the electricity system. Our Future Energy team predict that there could be up to 700,000 Electric Vehicles in 2020 requiring an extra 500MW of energy. That’s why we support innovative technologies and pioneering projects such as this one that have the potential to make a real difference to the way we manage energy supply and demand.

The press release concludes:

Today’s announcement follows the signing of a partnership agreement between Nissan and Enel in Paris in December 2015 during the 21st UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) to trial V2G technology in Europe. A trial comprising 40 V2G units began in Denmark in January 2016.

I wonder if any Nissan LEAF owners are already active participants in the Danish energy market?

BMW Announce New “195 mile” Range i3

In a press release a couple of days ago BMW announce a new “go further” version of their i3 model – “The world’s first premium car designed from the ground up to be powered by an electric drive system.”.

The BMW i3 94Ah replaces the current 60Ah model and has a capacity of 33kWh thanks to the higher storage density of the lithium ion cells. The battery dimensions remain unchanged with more than a 50 per cent range increase in the standard NEDC cycle. This equals a range of 195 miles in everyday driving. The motor propels the BMW i3 from zero to 62mph in just 7.3 seconds (BEV) making the BMW i3 both the sportiest and most efficient electric vehicle in its segment.

Here’s a picture of the new i3, with a gratuitous i8 sports car in the background for good measure!

BMW continue:

The high-voltage battery in the BMW i3 consists of eight modules (each with 12 individual cells), and its capacity has increased significantly without any changes in structure or exterior dimensions. By optimising the cell-internal packages with more electrolyte and adapting the active material, BMW has succeeded in increasing cell capacity to 94Ah and overall battery energy to 33kWh.

The range of the new BMW i3 94Ah (BEV) in everyday use, on a full battery charge with the air conditioning or the heating on has been significantly increased to 195 miles. This is achieved with no subjective loss of driving performance and agility. BMW i models strike the ideal balance between efficiency, performance and range. From standstill to country-road speeds, the BMW i3 94Ah is on par with sporty, conventionally combustion engine powered cars.

The lithium-ion cells used in the battery are particularly notable for their high energy density and impressive cycle life: they are designed to perform their energy storage function over the vehicle’s entire lifespan.

The coolant of the air conditioning system is responsible for cooling the high-voltage battery very effectively. An optional heating system can also be used to heat the battery to ensure the optimum operating temperature of 20°C before starting off. The battery has been designed to last for the car’s entire service life. Customers receive an 8-year or 100,000 mile warranty on the battery.

A couple of other significant things to note about the new range are that:

The emissions of the BMW i3 94Ah with Range Extender amounts to 12g/km, a 1g/km reduction in comparison to the previous model while the exclusively electrically powered BMW i3 produces zero emissions locally, plus

DC Rapid Charge now available as standard.

The new models will be available from July, in Protonic Blue with Frozen Grey metallic highlights:

Previously, this paintwork was reserved for the BMW i8 hybrid sports car!

Nissan Electric Vehicles Prove Popular at UK Universities

In a news release today Nissan UK point out that:

The all-electric Nissan e-NV200 van has graduated with flying colours to become one of the most popular new vehicle choices for university fleets in the UK.

The multi award-winning van, which costs from just two pence per mile to run and offers zero emissions mobility whilst driving, is now in service on the fleets at more than 20 of the nation’s leading academic institutions.

University of Birmingham was the first fleet operator in the country to take delivery of the model when it added two to its fleet in 2014.

Since then, the University has added four more and the e-NV200 has moved to the top of the of the list for universities and colleges the length and breadth of the UK.

e-NV200s are now in service at universities including Bath, Brighton, Coventry, Dundee, Edinburgh, Exeter, Leicester, Leeds, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, St Andrews, Swansea, the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Wales.

In addition, a number of other universities across the UK are currently trialling the e-NV200 as they explore the environmental and financial benefits it could have for their fleets.

Many moons ago I lived in Mayals and studied at Swansea University:

Nissan point out that in Swansea:

The e-NV200 Combi has been introduced as part of a broader commitment to sustainability and is operated as a pool vehicle, available on a booking system, by the information services and systems team.

As part of a seven-strong EV fleet, which also includes four Nissan LEAFs, the e-NV200 has proved a popular choice thanks to its size, flexibility and car-like driving dynamics.

Nigel Morris from the information services and systems team at Swansea University said:
 “Our EV fleet has already been a big success, cutting our carbon emissions by 4.5 metric tons and saving around several thousand pounds in fuel so far.

“The e-NV200 has made a terrific contribution to those figures as it’s proved so popular with staff. It’s a big vehicle that’s got lots of space for cargo or people but it’s very easy to drive.”

This news is all very encouraging of course, but I cannot help but wonder about something Nissan didn’t reveal to us this morning. Which of their long list of UK universities might actively be researching the application of vehicle-to-building or even fully fledged vehicle-to grid technology?

Perhaps the answer is “none of them”, but I am able to reveal that a UK University not mentioned by Nissan is in fact already so doing. Here’s an exterior view of the European Bioenergy Research Institute (EBRI for short) at Aston University:

and here’s what EBRI’s press release from a month or more ago has to say about the bright green box attached to the 24 kWh battery equipped 2014 model year Nissan LEAF pictured above:

Aston University has successfully commissioned the UK’s first permanent electric vehicle to grid (V2G) charging system.

This next generation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure allows power to flow both in the traditional way (grid to vehicle) and in reverse (vehicle to grid). The technology, developed in Japan to improve electricity supply reliability in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, is being investigated in collaboration with our leading industry partners, as a new method for energy storage and grid balancing services in Europe.

Please do read the press release in it’s entirety, and when you’ve done that also take a good look at the user interface of EBRI’s “load matching system”:

Exciting times for V2G enthusiasts here in the United Kingdom! Now that this pilot project is up and running there’s a few more urgent things to be ticked off on the to do list. How about OCPP 2.0 or even fully fledged British and international standards for “smart charging”, V2B and ultimately pukka V2G protocols for starters?

Here’s how the Open Charge Alliance explain the need for “Open Standards”:

The specification for version 2.0 of the Open Charge Point Protocol still seems to be absent from their web site however!