Nissan Installs V2G Chargers in the UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UK Government Consultation on EV Charging Infrastructure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consumer experience of infrastructure

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

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

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

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

Smart charging – Infrastructure and the electricity system

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

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

Provision of infrastructure

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

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

i) Power to franchise hydrogen refuelling

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

Will the United Kingdom Become an Electric Nation?

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

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

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

As Roger puts it:

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

Carl Sanderson of BMW UK adds:

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

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

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

To which Bobby responds:

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

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

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

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

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

and points out that:

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

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

Bobby adds:

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

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

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

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

Renault Launches New ZOE With “250 mile” Range

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

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

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

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

Renault’s press release adds that:

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

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

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

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

Nissan, Enel and National Grid Announce UK V2G Trial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The press release concludes:

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

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

BMW Announce New “195 mile” Range i3

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

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

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

BMW continue:

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

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

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

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

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

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

DC Rapid Charge now available as standard.

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

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

Nissan Electric Vehicles Prove Popular at UK Universities

In a news release today Nissan UK point out that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nissan point out that in Swansea:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storm Katie Cuts Power Across Southern England

On Easter Saturday the Met Office announced the impending arrival of another named storm from across the Atlantic:

Storm Katie is forecast to affect southern England and south Wales on Easter Monday

Anticipating the development of an area of low pressure, which will affect southern England and south Wales on Easter Monday, The Met Office has decided to name the storm Katie. This will be the 11th named storm since last autumn.

A National Severe Weather Warning for strong winds has been issued, covering much of Easter Monday.

The Met Office also issued a severe weather warning for the winds from Storm Katie across Southern England:

Issued at: 1031 on Sat 26 Mar 2016
Valid from: 0115 on Mon 28 Mar 2016
Valid to: 1400 on Mon 28 Mar 2016

Winds will strengthen markedly across southern England and through the Bristol Channel from the start of Monday, with the potential for 50-60 mph gusts inland and 70 mph gusts around coasts exposed to the south. Whilst there is a low likelihood of all areas seeing these strong gusts for a time southern coastal counties from Hampshire eastwards look most likely to see the strongest winds. These will then ease from the southwest during the morning, clearing from the east early in the afternoon. Additional hazards may include large waves around exposed coasts as well as a period of heavy rain.

Please be aware of the potential for disruption to outdoor activities and travel, as well as the possibility of fallen trees and temporary interruptions to power supplies.

On Easter Sunday the Met Office’s “Chief Forecaster’s assessment” firmed up the forecast a bit, saying that:

There is increased confidence in the likelihood of a period of disruptive southerly winds, veering westerly later. Winds are likely to be strongest in southern coastal areas, but there is potential for some very strong, squally gusts inland during the morning before winds ease from the west during the day.

Now the morning of Easter Monday has arrived, as have those “temporary interruptions to power supplies”. Storm Katie has done her worst, and here’s how the damage looked at 08:00 BST. First of all here’s Western Power Distribution‘s current power cut map:

Further east here’s Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution‘s power cut map:

and here’s one from UK Power Networks‘ for South East England:

Unlike WPD, SSEPD and UKPN don’t publish real time tables of the number of properties without power. SSEPD are however providing a “Live Storm Feed” for Katie:

According to their latest news bulletins:

Southern Electric Power Distribution has more than 900 engineering, technical and support staff on duty to deal with Storm Katie, and since last night power has been restored to 40,300 customers.

There are currently 28,497 customers in West Sussex whose power supply have been affected by Storm Katie.

There are currently 4,152 customers in Berkshire whose power supply have been affected by Storm Katie.

There are currently 2,893 customers in Dorset whose power supply have been affected by Storm Katie.

According to the UKPN Press Office:

There are currently 19,000 properties without power across South East England (Kent, Surrey and Sussex)

SSEPD are also “Live Tweeting” about the problems Katie’s winds have caused their network:

Solar Smart Charging in Utrecht with 150 Renault ZOEs

In a press release earlier today Renault announced that:

Renault has signed a letter of intent with the Dutch Utrecht City Council, ElaadNL and LomboXnet on Smart Solar Charging for electric vehicles.

The signature took place during the state visit to Paris of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.

According to the letter of intent, the city of Utrecht could be the testing ground for the solar smart-charge project. Renault, Europe’s leader in electric vehicles, would supply a fleet of 150 Renault ZOE models through 2017 to the city. ElaadNL would handle management of infrastructures and the smart-charge standard, and LomboXnet would take charge of installing the network of unique public charging terminals powered by a 44 kW grid connection. Grid operator Stedin would be involved to balance supply and demand of the grid.

The Royal Family might have left better weather behind during their trip to Paris, but here’s a Renault ZOE charging outside the LomboXnet offices in Utrecht, in the rain:

Moving on to some more technical details of the Utrecht project:

Phase one of the project would involve setting up 1,000 smart solar-charge stations, powered by 10,000 photovoltaic panels in the Utrecht region. Infrastructure installation would run side by side with development of a car-share service of electric cars, powered by renewable energy, for Utrecht residents. The Renault ZOE R.Access connectivity and 22 kW charging make it ideal for car-share and smart charging applications.

So far so good, and then comes phase 2!

Phase two of the project would proceed with the partners developing a vehicle-to-grid ecosystem, with the network of solar chargers capable of both charging the electric cars and of feeding energy stored in the batteries of parked cars onto the grid to meet demand peaks. This could be the starting point for a new system storing renewably sourced energy.

As always at this juncture, one cannot help but wonder where and when the first “vehicle-to-grid ecosystem” will evolve here in the United Kingdom!

Nissan’s New Office Will Be Electric Vehicle Powered

Nissan announced at the Geneva Motor Show today that:

Its new regional office in France will house the largest grid-integrated electric vehicle (EV) system and second life battery storage unit ever installed in a building, anywhere in the world.

The new building will feature 100 vehicle-to-grid chargers, from Nissan’s partner ENEL, allowing Nissan’s range of EVs to plug in and draw down energy from the grid at off-peak periods with the ability to “sell back” the stored energy to the grid. It will also feature a 1 MWh energy storage system, from Nissan’s partner EATON, the battery storage experts, powered by 64 Nissan LEAF second life EV batteries combined with solar energy generation.

The company hopes to extend this innovative battery technology to other major Nissan sites and facilities around the world over the next few years. The systems which will be installed at Nissan’s new French office will serve as a live test case of what can be achieved when electric cars are used to their full potential.

By reducing grid dependency and using excess energy stored in EV batteries in a smart way, Nissan believes today’s announcement will be a game-changer in the way people and businesses utilise electric vehicle fleets.

The new technology is expected to slash energy costs at the new France office by reducing drawdown of energy during peak periods in favour of off-peak tariffs. The new energy management system will also decrease the amount of contracted power consumed from the local electricity supplier.

Nissan announced plans to create a viable long-term solution to environmental protection in relation to energy use and storage at the COP21 climate conference in Paris last year. This included a partnership between Nissan and EATON on giving electric vehicle batteries a second life as stationary energy storage units and a partnership with ENEL on vehicle-to-grid integration. Grid integration trials have already begun in Denmark.