Prospering from the Energy Revolution

I attended the Knowledge Transfer Network’s briefing about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s Clean Growth Grand Challenge in Cardiff on Wednesday, but now I’m a bit confused. At the start of the event we were invited to “live tweet” the proceedings. Perhaps fortunately in all the circumstances my ageing Android refused to do that, and by the end of the event we were told that the assorted presenters’ slides wouldn’t be distributed as per usual since some of the information they contained was still “top secret”!

However it seems safe to reproduce Innovate UK’s own “live tweets” about the event, so here’s Rob Saunders in full flow on the topic of the forthcoming Great British Energy Revolution, courtesy of Jon Wood:

Then there’s Mike Pitts waxing lyrical about “Transforming Construction”:

In the question and answer session I asked Rob if he could clarify Innovate UK’s Transport/Energy/Infrastructure/Construction competition roadmap for 2018/19 for those of us in the vehicle-to-grid arena. Broadly speaking his message “expect more announcements in May”.

Finally, for the moment at least, here’s a not quite live tweet of my very own:

Pop back here in a couple of weeks when hopefully we’ll be able to reveal much more concerning how to go about “Prospering from the Energy Revolution“!

OVO Energy Reveal “Domestic V2G Charger” Images

We’ve previously mentioned OVO Energy’s announcements about the vehicle-to-grid technology they’ve been working on, and now we can show you some pictures too! In a news release to accompany the launch event in London OVO announced yesterday that:

Today at its first ever Energy Technology Product Showcase, OVO unveiled a range of products that together with its intelligent platform VCharge will form the components of a distributed, domestic energy system for the future.

The range includes the world’s first widely available, domestic electric vehicle-to-grid charger, designed and manufactured in the UK. The charger will accelerate the global transition to electric vehicles and will enable drivers to sell surplus energy from their electric vehicle batteries back to the electricity grid – meaning they may never have to pay to be on the road again.

On the new V2G page on OVO’s web site they even revealed what their “domestic electric vehicle-to-grid charger” will look like. Here it is:

OVO-V2G-1

According to OVO’s CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick:

Renewable energy and electric vehicles are perfect partners for the 21st Century. Today we’re launching the world’s first widely available vehicle-to-grid charger, helping to solve one of the biggest challenges facing the energy sector. We’re enabling thousands of EV batteries to help balance the grid in times of peak demand, more renewable energy to come onto the system, and households to reduce their electricity bills.

This is the first step in building the distributed energy system of the future. One that is truly customer centric and built around households and their connected energy storage devices.

Our completely new approach to energy has been made possible by the convergence of emerging technologies, applying intelligence, and years of working with customers to redesign the entire energy system.

The technical specification of their V2G charger available on OVO’s web site doesn’t give one an awful lot to go on:

The OVO Vehicle-to-Grid Charger is 520 x 210 x 690 mm. It weighs 17kg. And it can be installed indoors or outdoors.

although the snaps from the launch event also reveal:

Power rating: 6 kW charge and discharge.

The news release continues:

The OVO Vehicle-to-Grid Charger is the world’s first widely available domestic bi-directional charger. Using VCharge, this charger will give drivers the option to discharge and sell surplus electricity from their electric vehicle batteries back to the electricity grid, helping to supply energy at times of peak demand. VCharge will also optimise vehicle charging to take advantage of cheaper electricity when it’s available and when there are more renewables in the system. Through their partnership, Nissan and OVO are leading the way with this technology.

Here’s another image, this time portraying OVO’s partnership with Nissan:

OVO-V2G-2

With slightly less fanfare OVO also pointed out that:

OVO is launching a Smart Charger which, like the vehicle-to-grid charger, will enable electric vehicles to be charged during off-peak hours, thereby easing pressure on the electricity grid as well as allowing drivers to take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity.

There don’t seem to be any pictures available of the OVO smart charger yet, apart from snaps taken at the launch event:

However as the image above suggests OVO had more exciting news to reveal yesterday:

OVO is also announcing its debut in the home battery market with a Home Energy Storage solution. This powerful battery with a custom built control and communications unit will dynamically and proactively manage energy and power use. It will enable everyone to store, use and sell back electricity, whether or not they produce it themselves.

As if that wasn’t enough, there is still more to tell you!

The smart electrification of heating is an essential component of decarbonising our energy system. Showcased at the event was the OVO Heat Dynamo, an internet connected smart switch that can be retrofitted to electric storage heaters. It allows users to control the level of heat they want, when they want it via OVO’s Smart Heat Customer App, while reducing their electricity bills by as much as 30% and providing balancing services to the electricity grid.

Here at V2G UK we did of course sign up for news of OVO’s V2G activities many moons ago. They’ve asked us to do that again so we did, only to be informed:

2018-04-19_0852_FreeV2G

It would seem that OVO’s announcement of the “the world’s first widely available, domestic electric vehicle-to-grid charger” is a trifle premature? According to their web site it’s:

Arriving this summer.

P.S. Here’s a better picture of the OVO smart charger:

OVO-Smart-1

“Arriving this autumn”

Mitsubishi Motors Reveals New “Hyper Energy Station”

Mitsubishi Motors recently revealed a vehicle-to-building (V2B for short) pilot project here in Europe, and now they’ve announced an even more ambitious project in Japan, in a new release last week they announced that:

MMC already has 28 showrooms throughout Japan which have solar panels and the ability to use an electric vehicle’s battery power as an emergency power source, via a Vehicle-to-Building (V2B) charger. However the new Omiya “Hyper Energy Station”, opened this week in Saitama City, has also been fitted with its own lithium-ion battery packs to provide substantial power back up to the local electricity grid.

Saitama City has partially subsidized the cost of the facilities and the dealership has been designated a Next-generation Automobile & Smart Energy Special Zone by the Japanese government. The Omiya showroom, run by the Kanto Mitsubishi Motors Sales Group, is the fourth private facility and the first automobile dealer to adopt the system.

Featuring lithium-ion batteries with a capacity of 12kWh, the building can supply power for recharging electric vehicles (EV) in the event of a natural disaster or power outage, when normal power supplies are cut off. EVs have played a key role in transporting people and good in previous emergencies in Japan, when conventional fuel supplies have been severely disrupted.

Here’s an artist’s impression of the combined “Static and Mobile Distributed Energy Storage” (SaMDES for short) unit:

HyperSaMDES

Apart from the new hardware that combines both static and mobile lithium ion battery storage Mitsubishi also pointed out that:

MMC has already opened 28 “DENDO Drive Station” showrooms across Japan, all featuring solar panels and V2B charging stations. It plans to increase this number to 200 by 2020.

In addition to charging vehicles, V2B allows the EV’s battery to provide power to the building in times of high demand or an emergency. The building will then switch to charging the car at times of low grid demand, or when renewable energy production is at a peak. This has major benefits for the grid and provides cheaper, sustainable power for the EV owner.

IEC 63110 Project Team 2 Kicks Off

In our continuing endeavour to explain the arcane workings of the International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC for short) electric vehicle standards development committees we have some exciting news to report!

As predicted last November:

IEC-63110-2017-11-24

it was agreed at the IEC Technical Committee 69 Joint Working Group 11 (TC 69/JWG 11 for short) meeting in Toronto last week that work on the IEC 63110 part 2 standard (IEC 63110-2 for short) should begin by setting up a task force (TF for short) to “evaluate possible options for message encoding and transmission technology”. We swiftly volunteered for the new task force, not least because our V2G EVSE subsidiary is already evaluating precisely that for the United Kingdom’s Department for Transport (DfT for short).

In actual fact the Project Team 1 (PT1 for short) schedule has slipped a bit, so if you still have any out of the ordinary new “protocol for the management of electric vehicles charging and discharging infrastructures” use cases to bring to our attention there is still time before the Committee Draft (CD for short) stage of the IEC process is reached. In addition if you have any suggestions for “message encoding and transmission technologies” above and/or beyond the industry standard TCP/IP over cellular comms please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Lastly, but certainly not least, the existing IEC 63110 Security Task Force is still seeking input from suitably qualified experts in that particularly important domain.

Is Hitachi’s V2G Charging Station Really “Unique”?

We pose that question because Mitsubishi Motors’ press release certainly makes it sound that way!

Hitachi Europe Ltd., Mitsubishi Motors and ENGIE have demonstrated a pioneering project to explore the potential for electric vehicles to act as a means of energy storage for an office building. For this demonstration, the consortium linked the first vehicle to everything (V2X) charger to ENGIE’s office building in Zaandam.

Hitachi’s innovative V2X Charger is the first recharger that cannot only recharge an electric car but can also discharge the energy back into the building/grid providing different flexibilities including kW, ΔkW, kWh and VAR. Moreover, it is possible to connect solar panels and external storage directly to the recharger, allowing a much more efficient electricity supply to buildings.

That all sounds as though Hitachi’s “innovative V2X Charger” is just the thing we need for our V2G “Living Lab” here in sunny South West England. Our “artist’s impression” of the concept is displayed above. As you can easily see it involves most of the buzz words from the press release, including V2H, V2G, Solar PV and “external storage”. It’s also 5 years old, which means we’ve done a lot of research into the necessary technology!

External storage and vehicle-to-building is obviously old hat. We’ve personally tested technology that does both those things at the University of Aston:

EBRI-eNV200

However the EBRI V2G pilot project didn’t incorporate “solar panels” so let’s take a look at another recent press release shall we? This one is from the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands:

Electric vehicles and solar power systems are fundamentally direct current (DC) in nature, so conversion to AC leads to unnecessary conversion steps and losses. And two separate DC–AC inverters are required, increasing the cost and size of the power electronics.

Why not use a single integrated converter that charges the electric vehicle from the solar power system on DC? That is what Mouli worked on during his PhD research. Based on Mouli’s doctoral research, TU Delft has developed a quick charger together with the Power Research Electronics and Last Mile Solutions companies which can charge cars directly with electricity from solar panels.

The TU Delft “quick charger” looks like this:
Gautham_Charger_500pix

Delving further back into the mists of time last year we discussed Honda’s “Power Manager Concept” which looks like this:

honda-power-manager-800

which is presumably based on their current Power Manager technology, which looks like this:

PowerManager-1024

According to Honda:

Power Manager Concept works by aggregating and distributing energy to and from the grid, solar panel-equipped homes or workplaces, and electric vehicles.

Electricity is received into the system from the grid or is generated by the solar panels and can be used to power and heat the building as well as to charge the EV. While the EV is plugged in, the energy can be stored and used at home or sold back to the grid, potentially generating value for EV owners.

Hitachi’s new offering evidently isn’t unique in that regard either then! Here’s their infographic of the ENGIE installation:

Hitachi-Mitsubishi

That makes it clear as a bell that they’re not doing pukka vehicle-to-grid yet either. Based on that image they also haven’t got any “static” battery storage installed at ENGIE yet.

We reached out to Hitachi and Mitsubishi, and whilst both companies have been very helpful we still don’t have a photograph of the equipment installed at ENGIE to show you. Hitachi point out that “the PV/Battery inverter functionality is the unique aspect of our charger”, but it’s still not clear to us in what way Hitachi’s claim to offer “the first vehicle to everything (V2X) charger” is justified. That being the case we have a suggestion to make. Perhaps Hitachi could let us test one of their new units at our V2G Living Lab just outside Camelford in Cornwall. Then perhaps we could swiftly establish for ourselves the veracity of the claims of Mitsubishi Motors’ marketing department?

 

[Edit – April 4th]

Hitachi Europe have pointed me at this Dutch language press release from ENGIE which includes an image of their charging station in action:

ENGIE-Outlander-V2G

The Camelford Air Quality Action Plan Consultation

Regular readers will be aware that here at V2G UK we are concerned about the effect of internal combustion engine emissions on human health, particularly in the town of Camelford just down the road from us here in (Silic)Inny Valley. For more background please read on below the fold, but here is our urgent message of the day.

The Cornwall County Council consultation on their so called Air Quality Action Plan for Camelford closes on April 2nd 2018. If you want to have your say please complete the online questionnaire at:

http://www.cornwall.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/environmental-protection/environmental-protection-air-quality/camelford-air-quality/

at your earliest convenience by clicking the big green button towards the bottom of that page that looks like this:

Camelford-AQMA-Consultation

Continue reading

The Davy Initiative, Cornish Lithium and V2G

Yesterday I “raced” down the A30 to the Tremough Campus of the University of Exeter in Cornwall to discover more about what was billed on the Cornwall New Energy web site as “The Davy Initiative – Electrochemistry in Cornwall”. CNE point out that:

Humphry Davy (1778–1829), the son of an impoverished Cornish woodcarver, rose meteorically to help spearhead the reformed chemistry movement of the late 18th century and became a pioneer of electrochemistry. He discovered several new elements, including magnesium, calcium, strontium, and barium and in the course of his career was involved in many practical projects e,g. the application of chemistry to agriculture and designing a miner’s lamp which reduced spontaneous combustion!

Today, with the explosion in battery technologies, electrochemistry finds itself at the forefront of a wave of innovation again – an enabling technology relevant to a vast variety of industries and applications. It is also an area of increasing focus for government led funding opportunities such as Innovate UK calls and The Faraday Challenge.

What’s more, Cornwall finds itself leading the way again, one example being PV3 Technologies in Launceston who provide electrochemical materials, contract electrochemistry R&D and sub-contract manufacturing of electrochemical and nanomaterials to clients across the globe.

Obviously an event not to be missed by yours truly, but I’m afraid I arrived slightly late. My pathetic excuse is the 40 mph speed limit amidst the long lines of traffic cones currently gracing the new dual carriageway across Bodmin Moor. Once safely ensconced in my seat I learned all sorts of interesting things. Sticking with the science and technology for today, one of the presentations was given by Jeremy Wrathall of Cornish Lithium, who I mentioned almost a year ago in a previous article. After lunch Jeremy led some of us upstairs in the Tremough Innovation Centre to visit Cornish Lithium’s office, where I learnt a few more interesting things. My apologies for the quality of the image, but perhaps this will give you a flavour?

2018-02-01_13-16-45_258

Cornish Lithium are currently hard at work correlating the outputs of assorted “cutting edge” technologies with records from the heyday of the Cornish mining industry in order to identify “hot prospects” for sources of lithium and a variety of other useful materials. A couple of examples of 21st century data mentioned were Landsat satellite imagery and the Tellus geophysical survey of South West England. Here’s an example highlighting copper concentrations in streams in the Penryn area of Cornwall:

Tellus-Cu-Penryn

Personally I find the European Sentinel data easier to work with than Landsat, so here’s the Sentinel 2 visualisation of vegetation in the Penryn area:

S2-Vegetation-Tremough

Jeremy didn’t mention another recent related announcement, which is that Keith Russ has completed his 25 year mission to build a 3D model of all Cornwall’s old mines. Here’s the South Crofty area:

KeithRuss-SouthCrofty

Make sure to click through to Keith’s Facebook page where a variety of “mine fly through” animations are available.

As a result of all this high tech wizardry perhaps the production of electric vehicle battery packs in Cornwall will become a reality in the not too distant future? Which does of course bring me back to distributed energy storage! According to Jim Wrigley of the Isles of Scilly Smart Energy Islands project the “low carbon transport” part of the project will include V2G technology:

IoS-SIP

According to the project’s latest newsletter:

The Islands have seen an upward trend in car ownership, and by 2014, the number of vehicles on the islands had grown to 1,253, almost one car per two people. Travel distances remain low with the average resident’s commute estimated at 1km (about a half mile). The relatively short travel distances and potential for shared ownership make electric vehicles a very suitable way to get around. Furthermore, using their batteries to
both store and supply locally-generated electricity could pioneer, in the long term, a zero-carbon transport system.

More on all that on another day!

BP invests in EV charging company FreeWire

Following in Shell’s illustrious footsteps BP announced today that:

Its venturing business has invested $5 million in FreeWire Technologies Inc. (FreeWire), a US-based manufacturer of mobile electric vehicle (EV) rapid charging systems, and plans to roll out FreeWire’s Mobi Charger units for use at selected BP retail sites in the UK and Europe during 2018.

BP-Freewire

However BP/FreeWire’s rapid charging system is rather different to Shell’s, since as you can see it’s mobile. According to FreeWire’s Mobi Charger web page that means:

The Mobi Charger DCF offers Level 3, DC fast charging, without any construction. Charge up to 10 vehicles in a day. Mobi Chargers simply recharges from a wall outlet.

    • Supports CHAdeMO or Tesla standards
    • Delivering 50kW
    • Adds 200 miles in 1 hour
    • Tops off 4-10 EVs in one charge
    • Energy Buffer Chemistry: Lithium Manganese Oxide (LiMn2O4) Prismatic Cells
    • Energy Buffer Capacity: 48kWh (nominal)

According to BP Downstream’s chief executive, Tufan Erginbilgic:

Mobility is changing and BP is committed to remaining the fuel retailer of choice into the future. EV charging will undoubtedly become an important part of our business, but customer demand and the technologies available are still evolving.

Using FreeWire’s mobile system we can respond very quickly and provide charging facilities at forecourts where we see the greatest demand without needing to make significant investments in today’s fixed technologies and infrastructure. The opportunity also to explore options for providing charging services away from our existing retail sites makes FreeWire an ideal partner for BP.

Note that BP also point out that:

BP is committed to supporting the transition to a lower carbon economy through focusing on reducing its own operational emissions, improving its products to enable customers to lower their emissions and creating low carbon businesses. BP Ventures supports each of these areas by identifying emerging trends and businesses, making strategic investments and testing technologies and solutions for their scalability. The investment in FreeWire is an example of how BP Ventures is working alongside BP’s Downstream business.

Nissan Announce 1000 V2G Installations in the UK

Since it mentions “1000 V2G installations” and comes with a nice picture of a 2018 LEAF plugged in to a V2G charging station Nissan’s announcement of its “e4Future” project’s successful entry in the recent Innovate UK V2G funding competition deserves an article of its very own:

2018-LEAF-V2G

Whilst it is certainly connected to the vehicle the charging station doesn’t seem to be connected to the grid! Regarding their successful bid Nissan say that:

Nissan and its partners welcome the announcement by Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy minister Richard Harrington to award £9.8m for a Vehicle-to-Grid demonstrator project.

The project foundation is for a large-scale demonstrator targeting 1000 Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) installations that will evaluate a commercial offer to electric vehicle fleet customers. The chargers will be controlled by an aggregator and data will be collected to understand the technical characteristics of vehicle to grid charging for both the vehicles and the electricity networks.

A consortium, led by Nissan, will bring expertise from across the whole Vehicle-to-Grid value chain: V2G infrastructure/aggregator provider Nuvve, the energy community represented by National Grid, two Distribution Network Operators (DNOs); UK Power Networks and Northern Powergrid, with varied grid infrastructure. The research and analysis activities will be supported by Newcastle University and Imperial College London.

Vehicle-to-Grid technology and this project will leverage Nissan’s brand commitment to Nissan Intelligent Mobility to transform the way people drive and live, creating a more exciting and sustainable future.

Once again V2G charging station manufacturers are conspicuous by their absence from the list of Nissan’s collaborators, and there is no label on the white charging station displayed above. Nissan also provide the following bullet points summarising the e4Future project:

  • In January 2018, OLEV and BEIS announced that 21 projects (8 feasibility studies, 5 collaborative research and development projects, and 8 real-world V2G trial projects) were to receive funding of £30m to develop the business proposition and core technology around V2G, and demonstrate those with large scale trials. The projects involve more than 50 industrial partners and research organisations from both the Energy and Automotive sector, marking the largest and most diverse activities on V2G in the world, and trialling more than 2700 vehicles across UK.
  • The V2G projects represent a significant step towards the transition to a low carbon transportation and a smart energy system. Allowing EVs to return energy to the Power Grid when parked and plugged for charging, will increase Grid resilience, allow for better exploitation of renewable sources and lower the cost of ownership for EV owners, leading to new business opportunities and clear advantages for EV users and energy consumers.

Amongst other things Nissan’s Managing Director of Nissan Energy at Nissan Europe, Francisco Carranza, said that:

Our EVs can be plugged into the grid and support the transmission and distribution companies in making the UK grid more sustainable and more stable. The increase of electric vehicles penetration, the introduction of more and more distributed generation and storage and the overall increase in renewable energy penetration should be done smartly.

To ensure Nissan plays a wider role in the advancement and protection of our cities, our electric V2G-ready vehicles will be used as clean mobile energy units.

Nissan has also reiterated its bold mission to offer customers free power for their EVs. V2G introduction will change the rules of the game and make energy cheaper for everyone.

The press release also contains a long list of quotes from Nissan’s collaborators on the project. Let’s take a look at this one from Myriam Neaimeh of Newcastle University:

The Government’s announcement will be a real game changer as we move towards decarbonising the grid.

This will be the first, large scale demonstration of vehicle to grid technology anywhere in the world and crucially, this project brings together all the key players for the first time – a giant of the automotive industry with energy providers, infrastructure experts and academics – so we can work together to really make this happen. It’s a really exciting time and fantastic that Newcastle University has been involved right from the beginning.

I still cannot help but wonder who will be manufacturing the all important V2G capable charging stations that will be installed as part of the e4Future project, and what de facto or international standards they will comply with?

Are EV Charging Station Standards Patentable?

Regular readers of the V2G UK blog will be aware that I have just returned from a visit to Rome. I hasten to add that this was for business, not pleasure! However I am happy to be able to report that the venue for day 1 of the IEC 63110 standard committee meeting that I attended was Enel‘s fairly pleasurable Villa Lazzaroni, situated on the banks of the River Tiber:

2018-01-23_12-44-51_897

What was discussed inside the villa is of course currently confidential. However one issue raised is already in the public domain. In a press release on December 15th 2017 ChargePoint, Inc. announced that:

ChargePoint today filed a patent infringement lawsuit against SemaConnect, a manufacturer of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, alleging the infringement of four patents focused on networked electric vehicle charging. The complaint was filed in the District of Maryland and seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages.

ChargePoint has invested substantial resources over the years to create EV charging solutions designed with drivers and businesses in mind. With an industry leading patent portfolio, ChargePoint is committed to leading the way in developing the world’s most comprehensive suite of charging technologies that support the transformation to electric mobility. ChargePoint invented networked EV charging and holds the patents related to the technology. A hallmark of the company’s technology portfolio, networked charging is a significant piece of ChargePoint’s offering and a critical ingredient to its business. As with any company, protecting vital IP is imperative to the future success of the organization and its contribution to the marketplace.

The back story to the court case can be perused over at Lexology:

ChargePoint, Inc., a leading provider of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations, appears to have lost a bid to provide charging stations to Electrify America and promptly sued the winning bidder for patent infringement. In a lawsuit filed December 15, 2017, in federal court in Maryland, ChargePoint accused SemaConnect, Inc. of infringing four patents directed to networked charging station technology.

Electrify America is a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group of America (VW). Electrify America was established as part of VW’s diesel emissions settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In the settlement, VW agreed to spend $2 billion over ten years on Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure and education programs. Electrify America announced plans last spring to partner with EV charging station companies to install and maintain at least 2,800 charging stations at more than 500 locations across the country.

From court documents it appears that Electrify America put out a request for EV charging station partners, and whittled the bids it received down to four finalists. After additional scrutiny, Electrify America selected three partners: SemaConnect, Greenlots, and EV Connect. ChargePoint, which may have been named as one of the four finalists, was not selected as a partner. SemaConnect’s portion of the partnership agreement includes the installation and maintenance of more than 1,400 charging stations.

According to the associated documents courtesy of the Free Law Projects‘s “Court Listener” web site SemaConnect’s attorneys aren’t going to take ChargePoint’s allegations lying down:

A party cannot infringe an invalid patent. Since each Asserted Patent is invalid, SemaConnect does not infringe any Asserted Patent. As explained in SemaConnect’s Motion to Dismiss filed concurrently, the Asserted Patents are invalid under § 101 because they are directed to an abstract idea (turning a switch “on” and “off”) and doing so using a conventional and known “remote server” is not an inventive concept sufficient to confer patent eligibility onto that abstract idea.

Expect the legal eagle’s fees on this one to rise faster than the current US EV charging point predictions!