Nissan’s Future Promises “Free” EV Charging

The 3rd “Nissan Futures” event entitled “The Car and Beyond” took place in Oslo today. Apart from the European launch of the 2018 Nissan LEAF our suspicions about a 40 kWh battery for the e-NV200 were confirmed:

The new 40kWh battery for the 100% electric e-NV200 offers a 60% extended range of up to 280km NEDC. And, with no increase in size of the battery itself, customers will face no compromise in either load space or payload. Crucially, it can help make 100% electric last miles delivery achievable for businesses and professional drivers everywhere, with customers now able to drive more than 100 km further on a single charge.
1450933_426205630_Nissan_world_premiere_of_new_longer_range_e_NV200_van
As well as helping business customers enhance their green credentials, the van represents a key pillar in Nissan’s wider commitment to cutting the level of CO2 emissions in city centres caused by professional drivers making deliveries and/or collections.

Nissan announced a few other things as well, including a so called “Revolutionary ‘free power for EVs’ breakthrough”:

Over the past year in Denmark, Nissan has been testing this revolutionary new way of driving and today, this has become an offer open to all fleet customers throughout the country. Using Nissan bi-directional charging, customers can draw energy from the grid to power their car or van and then ‘sell’ back to the grid for others to use. This means, once a nominal charge has been paid by the business for the installation of a V2G charger there are no fuel or energy costs; just free power for your EV.

And Denmark is just the start. Nissan also announced a UK collaboration with OVO allowing customers to purchase an xStorage home energy unit at a discounted price enabling them to ‘sell’ back energy to the grid. This helps contribute to grid stability in a world where demand for energy is increasing due to a growing, urbanising population. It can result in an additional expected income for users averaging £350 / €400 per year.

OVO Energy have also issued a press release about their collaboration with Nissan today:

The new offering is the first of its kind in the UK and will combine VNet – OVO’s groundbreaking intelligent energy technology – with the capabilities of the innovative Nissan xStorage Home system.

Building from this collaboration, OVO plans to launch OVO SolarStore (beta), the company’s first battery storage offering for qualifying customers. OVO customers with solar households will soon be able to purchase an xStorage Home system direct from OVO for £4,800 (excluding installation, subject to terms and conditions), and benefit from a £350 annual credit and estimated average £240 savings on their energy bill.

According to OVO CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick:

Electric vehicles are fast becoming a mainstream option for drivers and solve many of the challenges facing our cities. We believe that they have an integral part to play in the twenty-first century power grid and accelerating decarbonisation and mobility.

We’re delighted that we can now offer such a compelling incentive to customers who are generating their own clean power, providing a truly sustainable alternative to the traditional energy model.

The press release also waxes lyrical about vehicle-to-grid technology!

Customer vehicle-to-grid (V2G) service planned from January 2018…

V2G technology allows electric vehicles to be fully integrated into the electricity grid and will likely help the grid maximise the use of renewables in the energy system.

The V2G offering will work by allowing Nissan EV owners to connect to the grid to charge at low-demand, cheap tariff periods. They can then use the electricity stored in the vehicle’s battery at home and at work when costs are higher, or even feed electricity back to the grid which could generate revenue for the EV owner. OVO plans to create special tariffs to reward customers for this interaction with the grid.

Currently if all 20,000 Nissan electric vehicles in the UK were connected to the energy network, we estimate that they would generate the equivalent output of a 200 MW power plant with a 10kW charger.

In a future where all vehicles on UK roads are electric, V2G technology could generate a virtual power plant of up to 200 GW. This energy capacity is more than double the peak requirement on the UK grid.

The new Nissan LEAF will be compatible with OVO’s VNet intelligent energy technology. Further details of the offer and the first installations will happen at the same time of the deliveries of the new Nissan LEAF, in January 2018.

If you want to register your interest in OVO’s forthcoming V2G offer they have a page on their web site where you can do so.

Yet another, albeit slightly older, OVO press release reveals more about VNet that arrived with their recent acquisition of VCharge:

In a move towards building a complete “grid smart” charging solution for electric vehicles, OVO Energy will begin to introduce its proprietary VNet technology across the network, unlocking smart charging capabilities on a national scale, ultimately enabling OVO Energy customers’ electric vehicles to function as mobile batteries at home and on-the-go, balancing renewable energy on the grid and allowing drivers to sell back unused energy.

To accelerate this transition to smart charging, OVO has also acquired electric vehicle charge point specialists, ChargedEV and Indra Renewable Technologies, an electric vehicle components and services supplier, and is harnessing their technical expertise combined with Chargemaster’s, to develop a game-changing smart charger, due to be launched to market later in 2017.

OVO also now have a shiny new section on their web site devoted to the “OVO SolarStore (Beta)“:

Built to harness the potential of your solar set-up, OVO SolarStore (Beta) combines a home battery with state-of-the-art software.

Not only could it lower your bills, but by joining the beta you’ll be helping to create a greener, more-efficient energy system for the UK.

  • Reduce your bills by storing surplus solar power in your battery to use later.
  • Your battery will support renewable generation in the energy grid by storing electricity when it’s abundant, and discharging electricity when national demands spike.
  • Receive a fixed monthly credit for using your battery and helping to balance the grid.
  • Optimised and managed by our advanced technology, so you won’t need to do a thing.

The OVO SolarStore page also includes comprehensive facts and figures:

  • Nissan xStorage – Power: 4.6kW, Capacity: 4.2kWh, Up to 5 year warranty, subject to Nissan’s terms and conditions.
  • Export Credit & Increased Solar-self consumption: £240 saving a year
  • Annual value of Battery Credit: £350 saving a year
  • Battery installation survey: £50
  • Battery cost: £4,800
  • Battery installation indicative cost: £500

Getting back to the Nissan press release for a moment, it also points out that:

Nissan also showcased its new home energy storage system, which follows on from the success of xStorage. Created especially for EV owners, customers can plug their electric vehicle directly into the wall box to charge. It comes with its own built in energy storage system, giving customers the ability to better manage their energy costs and even generate their own electricity from solar panels, delivering 100% renewable and zero emission power for their car.

1450927_426205642_Home_Energy_System_xStorage

I wonder if OVO will ever get around to offering a game-changing bidirectional smart charger version of Nissan’s new combined home energy storage system? That would seem to be the perfect answer to the conundrum posed in our banner way back at the top of this article!

National Grid Launches Carbon Intensity Data Feed

In a press release last week National Grid announced that:

The company today launches innovative new software that forecasts the carbon intensity of electricity generation up to two days ahead, helping people to understand and control their energy use.

National Grid is working with Environmental Defense Fund Europe and WWF to make the software openly available to the public. WWF has used the data as the basis of an online tool which points users to the best times to turn on or turn off home appliances to minimise carbon emissions, while Environmental Defense Fund Europe are working on policy implications of having this data available and widely understood. Shifting activities like dishwasher cycles or electric vehicle charges could help relieve pressure on the energy system, reduce the need to use back-up fossil fuel plants, and potentially reduce bills for households.

Here’s how National Grid’s visualisation of their carbon intensity data looks at the moment:

NGIntensity-20170930-1700

According to Duncan Burt, Director of the System Operator at National Grid:

We’re providing our forecast data in a format that allows technology companies to build innovative apps and software that could make a real difference to how and when people use energy. Clear and concise information that can tell you in advance when’s best to turn on the washing machine, load the dishwasher or charge your car for example, is a step in the right direction towards a low carbon future. This technology puts people at the heart of it, helping everyone to use power when it’s greenest, and likely, more cost efficient.

Simultaneously the WWF published a web page entitled “How do you make a green cup of tea” that presents the carbon intensity data in a “user friendly” fashion. According to the WWF:

Electricity is changing in the 21st century. Coal is being phased out and renewable energy sources like wind and solar now make up a quarter of our electricity.

This means that the greenness of our electricity now varies throughout the day. When it’s sunny and windy, we’ve got more green power. When it’s overcast and calm, we’ve got more fossil fuels online.

This new forecasting tool shows you what the greenest and dirtiest times of day will be up to two days ahead. This can help people plan their energy use, switching things on when energy is green and off when it’s not.

Being flexible with our energy use boosts our energy security and cuts carbon emissions by reducing the need for back-up fossil fuel generation. It could potentially save people money as well if they’re on time of use tariffs.

So if you want to make a green cup of tea, check out our forecast to find the greenest time of day to stick the kettle on.

Here’s how that forecast looks at the moment:

WWFIntensity-20170930-1700

Apart from the assorted press releases about the carbon intensity API there’s also a blog post from National Grid:

Working with WWF and Environmental Defense Fund Europe to finesse the science, we agreed to make the data that sits behind the forecast publicly available. The aim is to see tech developers creating consumer-friendly apps that can tell the public, in advance, when electricity generation is expected to be cleaner and greener, and more likely cost efficient.

The new software was a good idea hatched at a GB System Operator Hackathon and is yet another example of how our System Operator continues to be at the forefront of the energy revolution.

This new tool is a credit to the team in Wokingham – led by James Kelloway and his team members Alasdair Bruce and Lyndon Ruff, along with the sponsorship and guidance of Director of System Operations Duncan Burt and support from Corporate Affairs.

Not to be outdone the Met Office has also written another blog post on the topic:

Using hourly weather data from the Met Office and combining it with historical data from the grid, National Grid are able to forecast demand for electricity and also identify the contribution from renewable energy flowing into the grid. Using this information, they can forecast the carbon output of the grid over a 48-hour period, and identify the periods of lowest carbon output and highest carbon output. In other words, how green the grid will be during that period.

Using this information, the partners involved in the project hope that electricity consumers across Great Britain will be able to plan their electricity use around periods of high availability for renewable energy, reducing carbon output.

Patrick Sachon, Met Office Business Group Leader for Energy said: “The green energy forecast is a great example of innovative re-use of Met Office data. As a scientific organisation we encourage the re-use of our data, particularly if it can be applied to develop a deeper understanding of the interrelation between weather and something that is so integral to our everyday lives such energy.”

Down here at V2G UK we like to think of ourselves as an “innovative technology company” so we’ve already started using the new API. It’s very easy to use if you’ve ever written a JSON parser before, which fortunately we have. Here’s how the raw data for today looks as decoded by our trusty Raspberry Pi:

CarbonIntensity-20170930

We haven’t persuaded our Pi to produce any pretty pictures as yet, so for now here’s National Grid’s forecast for tomorrow, which is forecast by the Met Office to be rather wet and windy:

NGIntensity-20170930+24h

Having slaved over a hot keyboard typing in this article I could really do with a nice hot cup of tea now, but it looks as though now is not a very good time. Wouldn’t it be a good idea if I could boil a kettle using electrical energy obtained from my very own battery instead of from the local grid? Another good idea would be if, much like the Met Office already do for the weather, National Grid could supply us with a carbon intensity forecast for Camelford as well as for the UK as a whole.

[Edit – October 1st]

Our experimental application is now producing simple graphs. If you’d like to experiment along similar lines we’ve uploaded our Java source code to GitHub. For further details see our new project page:

National Grid Carbon Intensity API

Evangelising V2G in South West England

I’ve been out on the road this week, explaining the potential benefits of vehicle-to-grid technology to a variety of audiences. First up on Wednesday evening was the “Autumn Connect” event at Exeter City Futures, where I made a presentation entitled “V2G – How to simultaneously store energy and reduce congestion.”. I had the luxury of being allowed 5 minutes to present an “elevator pitch” on that subject to the assembled throng:

Image Autumn Connect 2017 (for web)_013 (1)

Here’s an expanded version of the PowerPoint slide deck I used. They all had Kasia’s “artist’s impression” of V2G in action at the top, so I’ll omit that part here. The first two slides are taken from a 2 minute pitch I presented at the Met Office on Thursday (see below) and have to conform to a template provided by the Knowledge Transfer Network. Hence:

V2G Limited

  • A small “smart grid” consultancy located amongst the wind and solar “farms” of North Cornwall
  • The “smart grid” is actually the “internet of big things”!
  • Producing embedded firmware for 35 years
  • Under a previous name provided multi-drop fleet routing interfaced to SAP for a FTSE 250 company
  • Long experience in electricity distribution. The Lucy Switchgear Gemini RTU firmware is our baby
  • Whilst we understand hardware our expertise is in designing software/firmware
  • Evangelising Vehicle-to-Grid technology for 5 years

I trust that is all self explanatory?! If not please see below or ask questions in the space made available for that purpose in the comments section at the bottom.

I always like to encourage some audience participation at these events, and Exeter City Futures delivered in spades! For the first time ever I didn’t need to blow my own bidirectional trumpet:

BiDirectionalTrumpet-Horiz

Timekeeper Lyndsey volunteered to blow the V2G trumpet for me, though ultimately it informed me that my time was up before I even managed to display the last slide, so make sure to read all about that below!

To make my “internet of big things” point I waved my trusty Raspberry Pi 3B at the audience. Here is what it looks like close up:

RasPi3B-Horiz

Dr. Sarah Ward from the University of Exeter correctly, if somewhat hesitantly, identified the mystery object. Now I’ve been programming the firmware (i.e. the software inside the hardware) in those sorts of devices for a very long time. 35 years ago single board computers were a lot slower and a lot bigger, but they still did the same sort of job. In those days they didn’t have USB ports like the Pi. Instead they had serial ports that conformed to the RS-232 standard. Getting two devices to talk to each other was always “interesting”!

I asked the audience to raise their hands if they’d previously heard of the “smart grid”. Quite a lot had:

Image Autumn Connect 2017 (for web)_012 (1)

Then I asked who had heard of the “internet of things”. Slightly more hands were raised. The point being that hardware a lot like the Raspberry Pi is at the heart of your smartphone, at the heart of the Smart Grid and (albeit in a smaller form factor) at the heart of the Internet of Things. The main difference being that the smart grid has been around quite a lot longer than the IoT! A point that some of my audience at the Met Office on Thursday seemed to agree with since they nodded their heads vigorously at that juncture!

Moving on to slide 2:

WP-banner-V2G

1. Our project idea

  • See the infographic above
  • North Cornwall is ideal!
  • Charge EVs on sunny lunchtimes
2. What’s innovative about it?

  • Nobody’s done it yet
  • On all sorts of levels!
  • Price signals / regulation?
3. The services we can offer?

  • Vast systems integration experience
  • Vast enthusiasm
  • AI for Energy Systems
4. The partners/services we seek?

  • Kite marked V2G hardware
  • An all electric car club
  • A suitable site

I asked the audience if it was obvious what the infographic represented. I was subsequently informed that a hand had gone up in the far corner of the room, but I didn’t notice at the time. To explain, imagine a conventional home with solar PV panels on the roof exporting excess electricity to the local distribution grid. Now add some static batteries in the utility room or the garage. Store any excess “free” energy generated when the sun is shining in that battery. When the household electric vehicle returns from the daily commute charge it up from the battery rather than from the mains, since by now the sun will be low in the sky or already below the horizon in winter.

If you have that basic hardware setup available then there’s lots of other things you can do with it! How about buying electricity from the grid when it’s cheap and storing it in your static and/or mobile batteries. Then just for starters you could sell it back to the grid when electricity’s more expensive? There are other possibilities too, which brings me on to slide 3:

WPD-NoCapacity

That’s a portion of Western Power Distribution‘s network constraint map. Note that most of Devon & Cornwall is plastered in red due to all the intermittent renewable electricity generation we have down here. One day (hopefully!) soon you’ll be able to earn money by allowing WPD to charge and discharge your batteries when it suits them, in order to help them cope with the stresses that intermittent generation can subject their electricity distribution grid to. The current fly in that particular pot of ointment are the rules and regulations currently enforced by Ofgem, which make it nigh on impossible for neighbouring energy “prosumers” to trade electricity with each other. Highlighting bullet point 2(c) I idly enquired if anybody else in the room “has had problems with Ofgem’s red tape?”. Not a single hand was raised in protest.

As regular readers will be aware, the town of Camelford in North Cornwall is an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA for short). Much like the centre of Exeter, the air quality in the centre of Camelford is fairly foul due to the noxious emissions of all the diesel engines that travel slowly through it. Electric vehicles can help with that, since they have no exhaust pipes and by and large use regenerative braking rather than rubbing dust off brake pads when they want to slow down. Hence slide 4 consisted of pictures of V2G capable examples of such vehicles, plus an image of the xStorage static battery storage device being produced from ex Nissan LEAF batteries by Eaton. An electric car club in Camelford and/or Exeter would be a small step along the road to reducing congestion and air pollution in both town and city centres, whilst V2G enabled vehicles in the fleet would also provide a mobile energy storage facility!

That’s about as far as I got on Wednesday before Lyndsey blew the metaphorical whistle on me, so I hastily concluded by mentioning this apposite comment from blog reader Chris:

Chris-CarClub

It seems that struck a chord with at least one member of the audience. In the first image above you can see the back of Mark Hodgson’s head, if you know where to look. Mark’s Co-Cars car club certainly isn’t 100% electric, but it has just installed a couple of EV charging points in the Exeter area. That would seem to fit the bill for my bullet point 4(b) quite nicely?

Here’s the final slide I never had a chance to mention on Wednesday evening:

Of course solar PV isn’t the only form of RE generation, and batteries aren’t the only way of storing energy, at home or in the office. There’s also heat, and cold, and eddi & zappi: http://myenergi.uk/products/

MyEnergi

What do you suppose that’s all about? To help answer that question let’s move on to Thursday and my trip to the Met Office. At least the previous evening’s rain had stopped:

2017-09-21_16-12-28_189

I was presenting at a briefing event for Innovate UK’s Emerging and Enabling Technologies competition. I got the feeling that since this was (one of?) the first KTN briefing(s) held in Exeter most delegates weren’t making the most of the KTN’s “Meeting Mojo” facility. Anybody who ventured in there would have discovered that I was hoping to meet:

Partners who appreciate that the “Smart grid” is a subset of “The internet of things”, and predates the IoT!

whilst offering a potential consortium:

Smart Grid Consultancy: 5 years vehicle-to-grid, 15 years electricity distribution, 35 years system integration. Now with added blockchain!

Shortly before the event proper got underway I explained to the KTN’s Simon Yarwood, MC for the pitch session, that although I only had 2 slides in my deck I was actually representing 2 companies from a nascent V2G consortium. He graciously allowed me to overrun my allotted 2 minutes, and here’s what I added to the top two slides above:

EBRI-Live-2017-09-23-0924

That’s a still from a web page that provides real time updates on the state of the building management system at the European Bioenergy Research Institute at Aston University:

As you can see at the top of that page, a bidirectional charging station with associated static storage connected to a Nissan LEAF pool car is employed at EBRI as both an energy source and sink, in what is the UK’s first V2x pilot project. Strictly speaking it’s vehicle to building (V2B) rather than fully fledged V2G, but as far as the charging station itself is concerned that is of no consequence.

The BMS software at EBRI is now being further developed by Grid Edge Ltd. who assure me that it utilises various machine learning methods using a variety of inputs including weather forecasts, energy usage history, WiFi connections and football match schedules to optimise the overall energy use profile of the building and the assets within. As well as a modest amount of battery storage the EBRI building also includes energy storage in the form of large tanks of both hot and cold water in the basement, as indicated on the real time infographic shown above. That’s where the MyEnergi system depicted in slide 5 above comes in. It doesn’t use complex prediction or optimisation software, but it does attempt to sensibly direct the electricity generated by domestic solar PV panels to charge your EV, heat up your hot water, or if all else fails export some to the grid.

Q.E.D?

Hurricane Irma Power Outages

The power outages in Texas caused by the recent passage of Hurricane Harvey haven’t all been repaired yet. Now a whole lot more people next door in Florida are finding themselves without electricity thanks to the arrival of Hurricane Irma. According to the latest update on Irma from the United States’ National Hurricane Center:

The center of Hurricane Irma made landfall at Cudjoe Key in the
lower Florida Keys at 9:10 am EDT. A gust to 106 mph (171 km/h)
was just reported at the National Key Deer Refuge in Big Pine Key.

SUMMARY OF 910 AM EDT…1310 UTC…INFORMATION
———————————————-
LOCATION…24.7N 81.5W
ABOUT 20 MI…30 KM ENE OF KEY WEST FLORIDA
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS…130 MPH…215 KM/H
PRESENT MOVEMENT…NNW OR 330 DEGREES AT 8 MPH…13 KM/H
MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE…929 MB…27.43 INCHES

Here’s how Irma looked from the Suomi satellite whilst crossing the Straits of Florida:

and here’s a NOAA video showing Irma making landfall at Cudjoe Key:

This is the National Hurricane Center’s storm surge forecast for the next three days:

The red area represents a greater than 10% chance of a surge of nine feet and over. Finally, for the moment at least, here’s Irma’s current forecast track from slightly earlier in the day:

Already over 750,000 premises across Florida are without electric power.

 

[Edit – September 11th]

Here’s a video from ABC about the effects of Hurricane Irma on Florida’s electricity distribution infrastructure:

Another video in which Rob Gould of Florida Power and Light says:

What we will see on the west coast is a wholesale rebuild of our electric grid.

At 9 AM this morning British Summer time the lights have started going out in Georgia, and over 4.5 million premises across Florida are without electric power.

 

[Edit – September 11th PM]

Florida Governor Rick Scott reports on the impact of what is now Tropical Storm Irma:

There are now over 6.5 million premises across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas without electric power.

2018 Nissan LEAF Revealed

The speculation is over. The new Nissan LEAF has been revealed. Here’s a picture of it:

and here’s a video showing it in action:

According to the Nissan press release:

The Nissan LEAF has been completely reinvented, combining greater range with a dynamic new design and advanced technologies*, representing Nissan’s technological leadership.

“The new Nissan LEAF drives Nissan Intelligent Mobility, which is the core brand strategy for Nissan’s future,” said Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan. “The new Nissan LEAF, with its improved range, combined with the evolution of autonomous drive technology such as ProPILOT Park, and the simple operation of the e-Pedal, strengthens Nissan’s EV leadership as well as the expansion of EVs globally. It also has core strengths that will be embodied by future Nissan models.”

Although the main press release doesn’t mention the fact the new LEAF does of course still incorporate V2G technology. However another press release does point out that:

Nissan’s pioneering vision of the potential of electric vehicles doesn’t stop at powering the new Nissan LEAF. The car’s batteries can also be used as mobile energy devices.

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology combines two-way charging allowing electric vehicles to be fully integrated into the electricity grid. It helps improve the capability to handle non-programmable renewable energy flows, making renewable sources even more widely integrated and affordable. The system works by allowing Nissan EV owners to connect to the grid to play an active role in grid services, while providing the opportunity for an alternate source of income. Once scaled up, the V2G technology will be a game-changer for owners of Nissan electric vehicles as they become active participants in the energy market.

Working towards a more sustainable society means making better choices every day. xStorage, energy storage system, draws on the collective experience of the industry’s best to make home energy consumption more efficient and more sustainable. xStorage Home stores energy at the most economical times of the day while controlling how and when that energy is put to use, saving customers money and improving the entire energy system. It seamlessly integrates all the hardware and software needed to manage and store all of the energy the home needs in a single unit. Used to provide Grid services, xStorage Home could charge from the grid or discharge to the grid in order to generate the flexibility needed to further increase the usage of renewable energy.

Yet another press release points out that:

The new Nissan LEAF links drivers, vehicles and communities through the user-friendly NissanConnect feature and systems that share power between electric vehicles and homes, buildings and power grids.

Using vehicle-to-home systems, the battery makes it possible to store surplus solar power during the daytime and then use it to help power the home in the evening. The customer can also recharge the battery in the middle of the night, when prices are lowest in some markets, and then use the electricity during the day to reduce energy costs.

All this is of course music to our ears at V2G UK, but there is still a fly in our ointment. When will UK owners of Nissan electric vehicles be able to play an active role in grid services by becoming active participants in our antiquated energy markets?

And what of the new LEAF battery pack? Here’s a picture of that:

According to the main press release once again:

The new Nissan LEAF offers a range of 400 km (Japan JC08 cycle**), allowing drivers to enjoy a safer and longer journey. The new e-powertrain gives the new Nissan LEAF 110 kW of power output and 320 Nm of torque, improving acceleration and driver enjoyment.

** 150 miles with EPA, 380 km with NEDC, both subject to homologation.

For customers who want more excitement and performance, Nissan will also offer a version with more power and longer range at a higher price in 2018 (timing may vary by market).

So it’s 40 kWh in the short term then, and perhaps the rumoured 60 kWh in the not too distant future?

The new Nissan LEAF will go on sale Oct. 2 in Japan. The model is slated for deliveries in January 2018 in the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Now I cannot help but wonder when Nissan will announce a 40 kWh version of the e-NV200. I also cannot help but wonder whether UK energy markets will get a matching upgrade in 2018?

P.S. The inimitable Robert Llewellyn reports from the 2018 LEAF launch near Tokyo:

P.P.S. It seems that our prayers have been answered! According to Pedro Lima at PushEVs:

Thanks to chrissy, a Nissan dealer and active member of the German forum Going Electric we now know that the electric van from Nissan will finally get its range increased in the spring of next year. According to chrissy, since yesterday it’s no longer possible to order the current model year (MY), because the new one with better range is coming soon.

Hurricane Harvey Power Outages

Major Hurricane Harvey reached category 4 before landfall on the coast of Texas last night. Apart from numerous other forms of damage a large number of properties will lose their supply of electric power over the next few hours and days. In advance of Harvey’s arrival The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT for short) issued a press release, which read as follows:

AUSTIN, TX, Aug. 25, 2017 – The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has issued a weather-related watch in preparation for Hurricane Harvey, which is expected to make landfall late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

ERCOT anticipates the hurricane may cause damage to infrastructure from high-speed wind, along with significant flooding in the South, South Central and Coastal weather zones in the ERCOT region. This includes the cities of Houston, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Austin and San Antonio. These conditions may cause a number of power outages throughout the ERCOT region.

The ERCOT System Operations team is working 24/7 at ERCOT’s System Control Center, which is built to withstand hurricane-force winds, to monitor the situation and protect overall system reliability. Extra engineering staff will be supporting their efforts throughout the weekend.

ERCOT also has been communicating with transmission and generation owners regarding hurricane preparations. Generation owners are implementing their own hurricane procedures to ensure the safety of their staff and equipment.

ERCOT remains focused on maintaining system reliability throughout the entire ERCOT region. At this time, ERCOT anticipates it will have sufficient generation available during the hurricane, while storm-related damage is expected to result in widespread power outages.

Please visit www.ercot.com/help/harvey for updates throughout the weekend. This site includes Frequently Asked Questions as well as helpful contact information.

Researchers from Michigan, Ohio State and Texas A & M Universities have created a model to predict power outages (as they’re referred to in the United States) resulting from Harvey’s passage. Here’s their current forecast:

Currently over 200,000 properties in Texas are without electric power as a result of Harvey. That number will increase! Here’s some example outage maps at the moment (09:00 UTC):

 

[Edit – August 26th 12:00]

 

[Edit – August 26th 15:00]

ERCOT report via Twitter that:

 

[Edit – August 27th 12:00]

Power outages across Texas dropped below a quarter of a million overnight, but have now risen again to over 260,000. There has been a large increase in the region powered by CenterPoint Energy:

A problem that we’re all too familiar with here in South West England is that power outages can lead to communications outages. The United states’ Federal Communications Commission has issued a report on the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the cellphone infrastructure in Texas:

The following is a report on the status of communications services in geographic areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey as of August 26, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. EDT. This report incorporates network outage data submitted by communications providers to the Federal Communications Commission’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). DIRS currently covers areas of Texas and Louisiana. Note that the operational status of communications services during a disaster may evolve rapidly, and this report represents a snapshot in time.

While we don’t have reports for all counties yet, there are at least 149,909 subscribers out of service in the affected area. This includes users who get service from cable system or wireline providers. There are 5 switching centers out of service and 38 switching centers on back-up power.

There are 4% of the cell sites down in the affected area. The counties with greater than 50% of cell sites out are Aransas, Refugio, and San Patricio in TX. There are no cell sites affected in LA.

The FCC also reports that:

The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) learns the status of each Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) through the filings of 911 Service Providers in the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), through reporting done to the FCC’s Public Safety Support Center (PSSC), coordination with state 911 Administrators and, if necessary, individual PSAPs. There are a total of 9 PSAPs affected:

Portland Police Department, TX is down with no re-routes.
Calhoun County Sheriff, TX is up without Automatic Location Information (ALI).
Port Aransas Police Department, TX; Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office, LA; Victoria Police Department, TX; Mathis Police Department, TX; Refugio County Sheriff’s Office, TX; Ingleside Police, TX; and Robstown Police Department, TX have either been re-routed to administrative lines or re-routed to another PSAP.
Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office and Victoria Police Department have been re-routed with ALI, all other re-routes are without ALI.

There are 5 radio stations out of service: TX – WKNC, KKTX, KUNO, KKWV, and KAYK
There are no TV stations reported as being out of service.

 

[Edit – August 27th 22:30]

There are currently still over 300,000 power outages across Texas. This rainfall radar map shows that the Houston area is still enduring very high rates of precipitation:

 

[Edit – August 28th 09:30]

The number of reported outages has dropped overnight (UTC), but there are still over 250,000 “customers” without electric power in Texas, plus some more in Louisiana. Here’s the current Entergy Texas outage map as Harvey heads back towards the Gulf of Mexico:

The FCC reported yesterday that:

There are a total of 17 (up from 9 yesterday) PSAPs affected:

PSAP down with no re-route: Portland Police Department, TX.
PSAP up without Automatic Location Identification (ALI): Calhoun County Sheriff, TX.
PSAP re-routed without ALI: Aransas County SO, TX; Bee PD, TX; Beeville PD, TX; Kingsville PD, TX; Kleberg County SO, TX; Mathis PD, TX; Port Aransas PD, TX; Refugio County SO, TX; and Ingleside PD, TX.
PSAP re-routed with ALI: Aransas Pass PD, TX; Cameron Parish SO, LA; Richmond PD, TX; Robstown PD, TX; Victoria PD, TX; and Wilson County SO, TX.

There are 4.1% of the cell sites down in the affected area. The counties with greater than 50% of cell sites out are Aransas, Calhoun, Refugio, and San Patricio in TX. There are no cell sites affected in LA.

 

[Edit – August 28th 15:00]

Reported outages are heading for 300,000 again whilst Texas wakes up to further flooding as Harvey heads back to the coast:

 

[Edit – August 29th 09:00]

Reported outages have dropped somewhat overnight, as the centre of Tropical Storm Harvey is now over the Gulf of Mexico once again:

Yesterday evening local time ERCOT issued the following statement:

The ERCOT grid continues to be in stable condition following Hurricane Harvey. However, several transmission lines remain out of service, especially near Corpus Christi and Victoria where Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

Two major 345-kV transmission lines serving the Gulf Coast area are still out of service, along with many other high-voltage transmission lines. As of mid-day today, a little more than 6,700 MW of generation capacity, including a very small percentage of renewables, was off-line for reasons related to the storm.

Electricity demand in the days since landfall has been about 20,000 megawatts (MW) below typical August electricity use, peaking at less than 44,000 MW, due to a combination of structural damage along the coast and cooler temperatures in much of the region.

The FCC reported yesterday that:

There are 4.7% of the cell sites down in the affected area, up from 4.1% yesterday. The counties with greater than 50% of cell sites out are Aransas, Calhoun, and Refugio in TX. Plaquemines is the only county in LA reporting any cell sites out.

 

[Edit – August 29th 12:00]

As a new day dawns in Texas reported outages are increasing once again. Over 270,000 in Texas plus ~5,000 so far in Lousiana:

 

[Edit – August 30th 10:00]

The latest forecast from the United States’ National Hurricane Center shows that at long last Harvey will move inland and dissipate:

Rainfall radar reveals that the rain has stopped falling over Houston:

The power outages continue however. There’s still over a quarter of a million properties without power in Texas, with a few thousand more in both Louisiana and Mississippi. Whilst we wait to see when the number of outages starts to reduce significantly, here’s a rainfall radar animation of Harvey’s progress so far:

The FCC reported yesterday that:

There are 4.7% of the cell sites down in the affected area, the same as yesterday. The counties with greater than 50% of cell sites out are Aransas and Refugio in Texas. In Louisiana, Calcasieu, St. John the Baptist, and Terrebonne are the only parishes to report any cell site outages, with each having only one cell site out.

 

[Edit – August 30th 15:00]

Power outages due to ex Hurricane Harvey are back up over 300,000:

Watch this space!

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!