An Exeter Nissan e-NV200 Heads North

The United Kingdom Government have finally seen the light and have pledged to pump £20 million into vehicle-to-grid technology:

Up to £20 million is available from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – working with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK – to fund projects that investigate new business models, consumer awareness and technologies that support interaction between electric vehicles and the grid.

So-called vehicle-to-grid technologies are expected to play a big part in making the UK’s electricity supply network smarter and in encouraging take-up.

Vehicles that can take electricity from the grid when demand is low and return it when demand is high could help to even out peaks and troughs and make the grid more efficient.

The UK government wants nearly all cars to be zero emission by 2050, and it sees a smarter and more flexible electricity system as a major benefit to consumers and a key to future growth.

This is of course very good news, apart from the time it has taken UK plc to get around to it! As a consequence of the announcement V2G UK booked ourselves in to give a two minute “elevator pitch” at a Knowledge Transfer Network V2G briefing event at the Energy Systems Catapult offices in Birmingham.

We decided we should travel in style, and Exeter Nissan kindly offered us an extended test drive in an almost brand new Nissan e-NV200 van! That’s much better for our purposes than a black stretch limo, which we will hopefully prove to you in due course. Here’s a photo of the Exeter Nissan team for posterity:

Exeter Nissan - Arguably the most enthusiastic and experienced Nissan team in the UK!

Arguably the most enthusiastic and experienced Nissan team in the UK!

We picked up the e-NV200 from them almost fully charged, and here’s how it looked at the time:

The weather wasn’t too bad, so we jumped straight in and drove the 56 and a bit miles up the M5 to Sedgemoor Services in “Eco” mode at a steady 60 mph or thereabouts. Now zooming up the motorway carrying an overnight bag and a couple of suits in the back isn’t a typical days work for a van, but with that proviso in mind here are some of the sights we saw on arrival at Sedgemoor:

The e-NV200 dashboard will be familiar to LEAF drivers, although there are some other differences. The “gear stick” is mounted below the dashboard, and the foot operated parking brake has morphed back into a conventional handbrake. In our case the 56 miles we’d travelled plus 20 left in “the tank” equates to a range of 76 miles by my reckoning, which is roughly what we achieved during the entire journey.

We’d used the old Ecotricity free “smart card” system on previous test drives, but this time we had to pay through the nose using their new smartphone app. That refused to install on my ancient Motorola Atrix, but we eventually got things working on Kasia’s more modern Sony Xperia. After a lengthy lunch break we returned to see this:

Stopping charging proved to be a non trivial procedure. Pressing the button on the charging station prompted Kasia to tap a button on her phone. That seemed to do the trick on the physical equipment but the virtual app insisted that charging hadn’t stopped yet.

We eventually pressed on regardless to the shiny new Gloucester Services:

51.7 miles according to Google maps. 51 miles according to the e-NV200:

Kasia’s Ecotricity app was still insisting the charging session at Sedgemoor hadn’t finished yet! Power cycling her phone enabled us to get a new session started. After a slightly swifter coffee break this time we set off on the last leg to Birmingham with a 95% charge. That was when our troubles really began. The Nissan satellite navigation system kept insisting “you may be unable to reach your destination” even though there was apparently plenty of juice in the battery. It seems the M5 north of junction 5 was jammed solid. The sat nav eventually suggested an alternative route taking the A38 around Bromsgrove and then the M42 before heading towards Aston University in the centre of Birmingham. After several apologetic phone calls we eventually arrived at the European Bioenergy Research Institute well behind schedule:

Thankfully in all the circumstances our e-NV200 started charging without problems on the ITHECA project‘s bright green bi-directional charger!

To be continued….

The New 2018 Nissan LEAF

The rumours have been flying around for months, but Nissan have just issued another “teasing” press release about the next generation LEAF. It makes no mention of new battery technology or increased range, but it does say this:

Packed with our most advanced technologies, the redesigned next-generation LEAF will amaze your senses and raise the bar for the electric vehicle market.

Being 100% electric and zero emissions, the new Nissan LEAF, an icon of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, offers a quiet and refreshing experience while driving. With Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies, you are more confident with enhanced vision and can better sense what is around the car. Premium interiors designed to suit your taste offer a touch more comfort.

Nissan established itself as a pioneer in the EV movement by launching the LEAF, the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle.

The world premiere for the new Nissan LEAF will take place on September 6, 2017 in Japan and we will be bringing the unveil to you live online.

It also includes this image:

and comes complete with this video:

Nissan’s previous 2018 LEAF press release suggested improved aerodynamics would lead to increased range even in the absence of a novel battery pack:

The new Nissan LEAF will feature an improved aerodynamic design that makes it even more efficient, allowing drivers to travel farther on a single charge.

Aerodynamics is key to how efficiently an electric car moves. Less drag and better stability enable the vehicle to drive longer distances before having to recharge.

The redesigned next-generation Nissan LEAF is lower to the ground, helping it realize zero lift for better stability at high speeds. Other new design features significantly stabilize the car when hit by strong crosswinds.

Inspired by airplane wings, Nissan engineers recreated the ideal shape for the new LEAF, enabling a symmetric air flow that helps it slice through the air for a smoother, more efficient journey.

It also included this image:

There was also another associated video!

Before that there was the “e-Pedal” teaser:

Nissan announced today that the widely anticipated new Nissan LEAF will come with e-Pedal, a revolutionary technology that transforms the way we drive.

With the flip of a switch, the technology turns your accelerator into an e-Pedal, allowing drivers to accelerate, decelerate and stop using just the e-Pedal. e-Pedal technology is the world’s first one-pedal operation that allows drivers to bring the car to a complete stop even on hills, stay in position, and resume driving instantly.

Drivers can cover 90% of their driving needs with the e-Pedal, making the process of driving more exciting. In heavy traffic and during city commutes, drivers will greatly reduce the need to shift from one pedal to the other, making your drive simpler and more engaging.

The e-Pedal technology represents another key milestone in Nissan’s ongoing commitment to bring accessible, advanced driver assistance technologies to the mainstream. Set to make driving safer and more enjoyable, the development of these technologies is part of Nissan Intelligent Mobility, the company’s blueprint for transforming how cars are driven, powered and integrated into society.

Here’s the e-Pedal video:

Please note the extremely important footnote:

Use conventional brake pedal for aggressive braking situations.

Before you leave please make sure to also take a look at our previous article that includes video of the next generation LEAF’s autonomous driving capabilities.

Watch this space!

Energy Storage Growth Scenarios and Operating Modes

Western Power Distribution and Regen SW have just released a report on the results of their consultation concerning “Energy Storage Growth Scenarios and Operating Modes“. The entire report is worth a read from cover to cover, but here are a couple of extracts that immediately caught our eye here at V2G UK:

On 13th July 2017, National Grid published the latest version of their Future Energy Scenarios (FES) strategic document. This document considers and discusses the role of energy storage in the future in 4 key energy scenarios. In these scenarios, storage is referenced as a provider of flexibility, both for response and co-location with intermittent generation (both solar and wind) and highlights the expectation that energy storage will be a significant part of the ongoing energy transition towards a smarter and more distributed electricity system. National Grid forecast strong growth in energy storage (in all scenarios) over the next few years, such that a total of 6 GW is forecast to be connected to the UK electricity system by 2020. Beyond this,National Grid expectation for energy storage growth varies significantly across the scenarios proposed, with the highest two scenarios showing storage grow to 10 GW by 2050 (Consumer Power-10.7 GW and Two Degrees – 9.8 GW). The considerably lower level of storage growth (under the Steady Statescenario) shows 5.2 GW by 2050, due to low levels of available funding, coupled with a reduction in capacity from 2030 onwards, as a result of existing assets not being replaced when they reach end of life.

There is also this V2G specific section:

A number of market analyst’s reports have projected energy storage growth scenarios, these include National Grid Future Energy Scenarios (see Fig.4), Committee on Climate Change, Carbon Trust and UK Government.As a starting point for WPD’s modelling, we are proposing to take a:

•High growth scenario of 10-12 GW and 24-44 GWh of energy storage capacity installed across GB by 2030.
•Lower growth scenario of 4-5 GW and 6-15 GWh across GB by 2030.

Note: these figures include 2.7GW of existing pumped hydro storage.

The introduction of significant number of electric vehicles under “Vehicle-to-Grid” (V2G) arrangements could be one factor that results in storage deployments levels increasing above the values we proposed. However, other comments received also identified regulatory barriers as a key factor that could perhaps limit deployment to levels potentially even beneath the lower growth scenario proposed. The wide margin between the high and low growth scenarios presented was recognised as an accurate reflection of market uncertainty.

We couldn’t agree more. There is currently much “market uncertainty” concerning energy storage in general and V2G technology in particular. Removing the “regulatory barriers” to progress would be most welcome down here in North Cornwall!

OVO Energy Embrace V2G

We’ve mentioned OVO Energy before, in the context of innovative financial models. Now we can mention them again, this time in the same sentence as our favourite three letter acronym! In a new section of their website devoted to electric vehicles OVO include an overview of V2G and demand side response (DSR for short). Please read the whole article, but here’s an extract:

The electric vehicle revolution will do more than reduce carbon emissions. Vehicle-to-grid technology (V2G), can give you ultimate control over your energy, and even make you money. Fancy getting your own mini power station? Then read on.

‘Vehicle to grid’ technology enables energy stored in electric vehicles to be fed back into the national electricity network (or ‘grid’) to help supply energy at times of peak demand. It’s just one technological advancement in a slew of new initiatives like ‘smart charging’ and ‘demand side response’ that are aimed at changing the way individuals, and businesses, use energy in the future. In short: the electric car revolution is tied into a whole new way of consuming energy.

We’re hurtling towards a place where ‘two-way’ electric car chargers can enable homeowners with electric cars to sell their energy back to the national network. It’s a smart idea when you consider that over 90% of cars are parked at any one time2 – which is a lot of energy just sitting there doing nothing. This technology will give you the opportunity to manage your energy your way, and potentially become energy self-sufficient, reducing everyone’s reliance on energy companies. Get solar panels fitted, then adopt vehicle to grid technology and your home could become a private mini-power station!

For some strange reason OVO don’t include a picture of this innovative new technology in action, so here’s one from the extensive V2G UK archives:

However they do include this image in the associated demand side response article:

together with this explanation:

Did you know that, as consumers, we are at the heart of a UK wide initiative to help secure our energy future? Not simply passive bill payers, our energy will, increasingly, be in our hands and our actions will play a crucial role in ensuring its security.

Demand side response or DSR is the unwieldy name of a programme that aims to rebalance our energy needs around the country. It will not only change how we produce energy, but also how we supply and use it. From manufacturing, public sector and big business to the householder, we all have a role to play.

Please read that article from cover to cover too. The OVO V2G article concludes:

We can help you charge your electric car everywhere, for less. Our EV Everywhere tariff is designed specially for owners of electric (and plugin hybrid) cars, and comes with fixed energy prices for two years, 100% renewable energy and free membership of Polar Plus, the UK’s biggest EV charging network.

Exciting times are afoot in the V2G sector here in the United Kingdom!

Can V2G Improve EV Battery Life?

According to a recent press release from Warwick University:

Researchers discover that by intelligently managing vehicle-to-grid technology, energy from idle vehicle batteries can be pumped back into the grid – and this would improve vehicle battery life by around 10%.

That will come as a surprise to many people! Let’s dig deeper to discover what “intelligently managing V2G technology” means in this context. According to the press release once again:

Dr Kotub Uddin, with colleagues from WMG’s Energy and Electrical Systems group and Jaguar Land Rover, has demonstrated that vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology can be intelligently utilised to take enough energy from idle EV batteries to be pumped into the grid and power buildings – without damaging the batteries.

This new research into the potentials of V2G shows that it could actually improve vehicle battery life by around ten percent over a year.

For two years, Dr Uddin’s team analysed some of the world’s most advanced lithium ion batteries used in commercially available EVs – and created one of the most accurate battery degradation models existing in the public domain – to predict battery capacity and power fade over time, under various ageing acceleration factors – including temperature, state of charge, current and depth of discharge.

Using this validated degradation model, Dr Uddin developed a ‘smart grid’ algorithm, which intelligently calculates how much energy a vehicle requires to carry out daily journeys, and – crucially – how much energy can be taken from its battery without negatively affecting it, or even improving its longevity.

The researchers used their ‘smart grid’ algorithm to see if they could power WMG’s International Digital Laboratory – a large, busy building which contains a 100-seater auditorium, two electrical laboratories, teaching laboratories, meeting rooms, and houses approximately 360 staff – with energy from EVs parked on the University of Warwick campus.

They worked out that the number of EVs parked on the campus (around 2.1% of cars, in line with the UK market share of EVs) could spare the energy to power this building – and that in doing so, capacity fade in participant EV batteries would be reduced by up to 9.1%, and power fade by up to 12.1% over a year.

This is all still just a trifle vague, so let’s dig deeper still. Dr Uddin and his colleagues have written a learned journal article on the subject at hand, and fortunately for our purposes it’s open access! According to the conclusions to the paper:

The smart-grid algorithm was used to investigate a case study of the electricity demand for the University of Warwick IDL building. Simulation results suggest that the smart-grid formulation is able to reduce the EVs’ battery pack capacity fade by up to 9.1% and power fade by up to 12.1% within the context of the grid topology considered or if the EV is charged to 100% daily. In comparison, if the EV is charged only when the battery is close to depletion, the smart grid optimisation was able to reduce capacity fade by 4.4% and power fade by 9.5%. In conclusion, we show that an EV connected to this smart-grid system can accommodate the demand of the power network with an increased share of clean renewable energy, but more profoundly that the smart grid is able to extend the life of the EV battery beyond the case in which there is no V2G.

I cannot help but think that the opinion of many battery degradation sceptics won’t readily be swayed by “simulation results” based on a “degradation model”, validated or not.

Next Generation Nissan LEAF to Include “Autonomous” Technology

Nissan Europe exhibited at the CeBIT exhibition in Hannover, Germany for the first time last week. According to their press release:

Just weeks after demonstrating its advanced autonomous drive technology on public roads in Europe, Nissan today makes its debut at CeBIT, Europe’s largest digital expo, showcasing innovations set to revolutionise the future of motoring.

At the heart of its display at CeBIT, Nissan will showcase another autonomous innovation – Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) system which was demonstrated earlier this year at CES.

Developed from NASA technology, SAM partners in-vehicle artificial intelligence with human support to help autonomous vehicles make decisions in unpredictable situations such as accidents, road construction, or other obstacles. With SAM, the autonomous vehicle becomes aware of when it should attempt to negotiate the situation by itself, and when it should seek human assistance. Knowing how to manoeuvre these situations will be key to realising a fully autonomous driving future.

Nissan has also confirmed that phase one of its innovative ProPILOT autonomous drive technology will be made available in the new Nissan Qashqai launching in FY17 and the second-generation model of the Nissan LEAF coming soon. This technology enables single lane autonomous driving on motorways and is already available on the Nissan Serena which was launched in Japan last year.

What should we expect from Nissan’s assorted “autonomous” technologies? The answer is provided by Robert Llewellyn in his latest “Fully Charged” video! As Bobby puts it:

Our first ride in a fully autonomous car on public roads in the UK.

What this car can do already, now, is drive itself anywhere on the roads. Obviously this is not available now. You can’t buy one of these Nissan LEAFs yet. This is still a development vehicle.

The idea with this, according to Nissan, is that this will be part of standard cars in around 2020

The next question is obviously “when should we expect the second-generation model of the Nissan LEAF to become available in the UK?”. A partial answer has just been “Tweeted” by Nissan UK:

Meanwhile, and perhaps not entirely coincidentally, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has announced:

The first competition to access funding supporting the creation of test facilities for connected and autonomous vehicles.

Business Secretary Greg Clark launched the first competition to access funding from the government’s £100 investment programme supporting the creation of test facilities for connected and autonomous vehicles today (30 March 2017) at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Connected Conference in London.

In his speech to an international audience of over 400 industry leaders from the automotive and technology sectors he outlined plans to create a cluster of excellence in CAV testing along the M40 corridor between Birmingham and London.

Time for me to call our local Nissan dealer to try to arrange a “test driven”! Perhaps there’s one small fly in the BEIS ointment though? South West England isn’t “along the M40 corridor between Birmingham and London”.

P.S. Nissan have released a “teaser” video in the build up to the launch of the “next generation” 2018 LEAF:

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 Unveil Solar PV Integrated Static xStorage for UK

In two separate press releases there have been two interesting announcements from Nissan on the ex EV battery storage front. In the first there’s a football connection!

Nissan, power management leader Eaton and The Mobility House today signed a ground-breaking 10-year deal with Amsterdam ArenA – home of Ajax Football Club and world-famous entertainment venue – to provide back-up power from second life Nissan LEAF batteries.

The xStorage Buildings system efficiently stores and distributes energy when it’s needed, ensuring that the lights never go out at the renowned 55,000-seater stadium, which has played host to numerous high profile concerts and sporting events over the years.

By repurposing batteries from previously used electric vehicles, the xStorage Buildings system can draw energy from the grid, providing businesses with more control, better value and a more sustainable choice for their energy consumption.

Using 280 Nissan LEAF batteries, the system designed for the Amsterdam ArenA will be the largest energy storage system powered by second-life batteries used by a commercial business in Europe and will have four Megawatts of power and four Megawatts (sic) of storage capacity.

As well as providing vital back-up power services to the ArenA, xStorage Buildings also enables the Amsterdam ArenA to power the surrounding neighbourhood when necessary and protect the grid.

We’ll excuse Nissan PR the misprint because they’ve provided this nice video accompaniment to their announcement, which doesn’t make the same mistake:

In the second announcement it is revealed that:

Nissan and power management leader Eaton are broadening their portfolio of xStorage Home residential energy storage solutions by introducing a range of six product configurations, giving consumers greater choice to meet their energy needs. This announcement comes as pre-orders of xStorage Home begin today in the United Kingdom, Norway and Germany with other European markets to follow in the coming months.

The xStorage Home system can draw energy from the sun or from the grid, making energy consumption more affordable and encouraging home-owners to make a more sustainable choice. The cutting-edge technology in the xStorage Home system is also fit for the future, and can enable customers to sell energy back to the grid – an opportunity that is expected to be offered by energy companies in the future.

The system gives consumers greater control over how and when they use energy in their own homes enabling them to avoid expensive tariff periods. The expanded range will offer consumers greater choice over power capacity and price as well as units. Consumers can opt to purchase units powered by either second life batteries or new batteries.
xStorage Home units – which provide a sustainable second life for Nissan’s electric vehicle (EV) batteries after their first life in cars is over – will be priced competitively starting at €3,500 (excluding VAT and installation costs) for a power capacity of 3.5kW rising to just €3,900 for 6kW. Units powered by new Nissan batteries will start from €5,000 rising to €5,580 for the highest capacity and will come with an extended warranty period of ten years.

Connected to a residential power supply and/or renewable energy sources such as solar panels, the unit has the potential to revolutionise the way people manage energy usage in their own home, providing added flexibility.

xStorage Home comes with solar panel inverters already integrated meaning that if a home is equipped with solar panels, the consumer can connect directly to xStorage Home, storing and then powering their homes using clean, renewable energy. It can also save customers money on their utility bills by charging up when renewable energy is available or cheaper, and releasing that stored energy when demand and costs are high.

The xStorage Home unit also has the capability to provide energy back to the grid in countries where the conditions enable customers to do so. This provides another potential revenue stream as customers will be able to sell stored energy back to the grid when demand and costs are high.

The system also provides the ultimate back-up energy solution to consumers, ideal at a time when energy grids are coming under significant strain. With smartphone connectivity, it allows consumers to switch between energy sources at the touch of a button.

I wonder if Eaton have solved all the Great British G83 issues yet, and whether they will incorporate V2H functionality into their xStorage offering? I also cannot help but wonder how many Great British Pounds that €3,500 will translate to by the time UK deliveries eventually commence?