Thought Leaders

How Electric Vehicle Batteries Could Help Power Our Homes

Thought LeadersProfessor Lucelia RodriguesChair of Sustainable and Resilient CitiesFaculty of Engineering - University of Nottingham

AZoCleantech speaks to Professor Lucelia Rodrigues from the University of Nottingham about the EV-elocity project which enables the use of energy in electric vehicle batteries to power homes. The project could help decarbonize the energy grid and reduce emissions from transport and electricity production.

Can you tell the readers more about the EV-elocity project?

EV-elocity is a research and development project looking at increasing the uptake of electric vehicles (EV) by helping consumers to monetize their investment using vehicle-to-grid (V2G) innovation.

It demonstrated the use of V2G technologies in a range of real-world situations to gain technical, customer and commercial insights. These are being explored through case studies where the technology is installed and tested.

EV-elocity was funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and facilitated by Innovate UK.

How could this project help increase the decarbonization of the energy grid?

We anticipate that the transition to electric mobility will add pressure to the energy grid. By using V2G, EVs can support the energy system by providing extra energy storage capability.

This energy storage can be used to store renewable energy when this is widely available and return it to the system at peak demand. Imagine for example charging a vehicle overnight mostly using wind power from the grid and then discharging it back during the day when we may have a greater reliance on ‘dirty energy'. The capacity of one vehicle battery is small – perhaps enough to support the needs of a home – but the capacity of a whole community is significant enough to have a positive impact on the energy grid.

The opportunities to reduce carbon emissions through the use of V2G are various:

1) Using EVs’ batteries to store energy from intermittent renewable generators (such as wind and solar),

2) Storing excess low-carbon energy available from the grid,

3) Offsetting EVs’ charging to when the grid carbon intensity is low,

4) Discharging the EVs’ battery when the grid carbon intensity is high, and

 5) Optimizing the use of EV batteries to reduce degradation.

ev charging, electric vehicle

Image Credit: University of Nottingham

What is vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology and how is it important on a wider scale?

The terms vehicle-to-grid (V2G), vehicle-to-building (V2B), vehicle-to-home (V2H) or vehicle-to-everything (V2X) refer to the potential of using bidirectional charging to charge and discharge electric vehicles (EV).

This capability adds a welcome link between the transport and energy systems through increasing storage capacity, which can be accessed at short demand.

V2X represents a game-changing technology for the future of EVs and the energy grid. EVs using V2X will support the balance of the energy grid locally by providing opportunities for charging, storing and discharging electricity when suitable. It could provide the necessary storage to better integrate intermittent renewable energy into the grid, reducing the need, cost, carbon impact and risk associated with static battery storage. V2X can provide the flexibility required for the transition to a net-zero energy system.

This technology will increase local self-consumption of renewables and potentially offset the need for dedicated local battery storage. On a wider scale, V2G can help to balance the energy grid, reducing its carbon intensity and increasing efficiencies and security.

Another significant aspect is that V2G can also lead to significant financial benefits for EV owners, which will encourage the uptake of EVs. As we transition to a world where electric mobility needs to be the norm to allow us to meet our national Net Zero Emission targets, anything that can help monetize such significant investment will make a big difference.

How could electric vehicle (EV) battery energy help power homes?

V2G can support domestic consumers in various ways. The peak energy generation from renewable sources (e.g. photovoltaics) is often when the electricity demand is low, and the energy prices are low. Therefore, homes with local renewable energy generation could use the EV battery to store clean energy when demand is low and discharge the vehicle during high demand whether for self-use or back to the grid. Selling energy to the grid when demand is high can generate financial benefits, as well as help reduce carbon emissions.

Homes without renewable energy generation could benefit from using the EV battery as storage of low-carbon / low-cost energy from the grid to be used when demand is high. These energy transactions will generate economic and environmental savings.

The most straightforward business model potential is for discharging at a profit for the user. The biggest business model potential is to enable energy trading in the day-ahead and intraday markets, where relatively accurate predictions can be made for the near future.

In all cases, the energy stored in the EVs could be used to power homes during power cuts, increasing energy security and the system's resilience.

What would be the challenges of employing such innovative technology?

The first challenge for an optimum application of V2G technology is to synchronize the needs and requirements of the users and the different systems involved (transport, energy and buildings).

Our work correlates user needs, mobility patterns, electric vehicle charging requirements, battery degradation, renewable electricity generation, storage and use to evolve different possible scenarios for the application of V2G chargers, with a view of maximizing local renewable energy consumption, lowering costs for the user, improving battery life and reducing carbon emissions from the whole system.

This brings the need for clever predictive models that are able to manage these variables and give us suggestions of how to best respond to needs with reasonable confidence.

Another challenge refers to the technology itself. V2X chargers (V2G or Vehicle-to-Building V2B) require pre-ordering with long lead times. There are limited options available, and, importantly, not many compatible vehicles. The biggest barrier to mass adoption of V2G technology is the limited choice of vehicles compatible with V2G (the CHAdeMO charging system is the only available now in the UK, the CCS system will be available soon).

This brings us to the challenge of costs. V2X chargers and installation costs are currently high. Therefore, a reduction of the upfront costs for the end-user and grants are needed to encourage the market.

Overall, there is insufficient evidence of the economic and environmental benefits because there is limited real-world data on V2X. Our EV-elocity project is one of many trying to fill that gap, but more work is needed to instigate confidence.

This brings me to my last point: more awareness of the benefits of V2X is required. The end-user is a fundamental part of the puzzle for the success of this technology. We need to make sure people understand and accept V2X to increase demand and drive the EV market.

Could vehicle-to-grid technology affect electric-vehicle battery life? If so, how could this be overcome?

As part of EV-elocity, researchers from the University of Warwick have evaluated the impact on battery degradation of different charging strategies. They generated different profiles testing standard charging, smart charging (V1G), V2G charging, and a combination of V1G and V2G. Their findings indicate that a combination of V1G and V2G improved the EV battery life. These models are in the process of being validated under different operating systems. However, there is evidence that V2G can help reduce battery degradation.

Is there a potential for this to be adopted throughout the UK and across the world? What are the challenges that may be faced and how could these be overcome?

National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios report (2020) suggested that under unconstrained charging of electric vehicles, energy demand will increase by over 20 GW in the UK. However, when Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) was considered, the demand was not only reduced in comparison to unconstrained and smart charging, but it also had a positive impact due to the export of power that EVs can provide at peak times. Therefore, V2G represents a game-changing technology for the future of EVs in the UK and worldwide. It could support balancing the energy grid locally by providing opportunities for charging, storing and discharging electricity when suitable, and providing the flexibility required for the transition to a net-zero energy system.

To overcome challenges, we need to address affordability, standardize hardware and software, invest in innovation in charging and management systems, make information accessible, better communicate the benefits, build flexibility for the end-user and make V2X a requirement for vehicles and chargers.

I have no doubt bidirectional charging is the future for electric mobility because it makes sense to optimize the use of energy storage, getting a better return in both financial and carbon investment. However, we need to get the market to respond by:

  • Standardizing charger technology
  • Producing more compatible vehicles

For this to happen, we need demand pressure – and that is you and me and everyone and every business who is committed to transitioning to electric.

How much carbon emission could be reduced through V2G technology?

This will vary depending on grid intensity and whether the user is prioritizing carbon reduction or financial savings but according to our analysis of different fleets, the transition to EVs can reduce between 54% and 85% of the carbon emissions of a fleet.

This is estimated by calculating the carbon intensity of the electricity used to charge the electric vehicles compared to the carbon emissions of an internal combustion engine vehicle. This carbon intensity can be further reduced by offsetting the charging of the EVs to the times when the carbon intensity of the grid is low.

In simple terms, we could be powering our cars and homes using sun and wind energy generated locally or nationally through the clever use of our vehicles’ storage capacity.

How could the technology improve energy system capacity and reliability?

The electrification of transport in the UK means that demand response solutions such as V2G will be an increasingly important part of energy system stabilization, particularly to provide high-capacity electric vehicle charging in grid-constrained areas.

Lots of vehicle batteries added together mean a massive opportunity for energy storage; the ability to charge and discharge those batteries when it is best to give us the chance to link that storage available in the transport system to the need for storage in the energy system. This could relieve the pressure on the energy system during peak demand, increasing reliability. It also may allow consumers to use the energy within their batteries when the energy grid is not reliable (for example during power shortages).

In what ways can we further increase the grid’s capacity to store excess renewable power?

Another significant opportunity for this to happen is through community energy schemes. Addressing the energy challenge as a community brings significant economies of scale, makes clean energy more widely accessible, and allows community batteries to provide grid services in a similar way to how the EV batteries would be used.   

In Nottingham, we have demonstrated this through Project SCENe [2016-2018, funded by IUK and the Energy Research Accelerator] and Project SENSIBLE [2015-2018, funded by the European Horizon 2020 program], and the Creative Energy Homes [2000- current, various funders], a campus-based testbed for sustainable homes and communities.

Where can readers find more information?

Relevant articles published in the last two years:

Links to relevant project websites:

  • EV-elocity [2018-2022, funded by Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles (OZEV) and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), delivered through Innovate UK (IUK)]: a project looking at increasing the uptake of EVs by helping consumers to monetize their investment using vehicle-to-grid innovation, enabling the optimization of energy use and the decarbonization of cities and communities;
  • AMiCc (2019-2022, funded by OZEV, delivered through IUK): a project aiming to demonstrate how wireless technology can unlock a range of the blockers to the market transitioning to electric vehicles and decarbonized cities;
  • Human Switch [2018-2020, funded by European Space Agency]: a project that looked at developing a platform providing an owner interface for electric vehicle management and integration into the energy market; 
  • The Active Building Centre [2018-2022, funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)]: a project aiming to transform the UK construction and energy sectors through the deployment of active buildings contributing to more efficient energy use and decarbonization of communities;
  • Project SCENe [2016-2018, funded by IUK and the Energy Research Accelerator]: project SCENe (Sustainable Community Energy Networks) at Nottingham's Trent Basin looked to accelerate the adoption of community energy systems, reducing costs and increasing the efficient use of distributed renewables, ultimately reducing the overall carbon emissions from the energy system;
  • Project SENSIBLE [2015-2018, funded by the European Horizon 2020 program]: a Project exploring ‘Storage Enabled Sustainable Energy for Buildings and Communities’;
  • Creative Energy Homes [2000- current, various funders]: a research/educational 8-house showcase of innovative energy-efficient solutions for sustainable homes and communities, including the integration of multi-vector energy generation, storage and deployment and the demonstration of V2X technology;

About Professor Lucelia Rodrigues

Professor Lucelia Rodrigues is Chair of Sustainable and Resilient Cities in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham (UoN). Lucelia is a passionate, global leader in the resilience of communities and buildings in a changing climate, involved in several major sustainability projects focused on energy, carbon management and comfort. 

She has over 120 peer-reviewed research publications and has been an investigator in 30 funded research projects with a combined value of over £84M (£11M direct income). She is the director of the Transport, Mobility & Cities @Nottingham initiative and the MArch in Architecture & Sustainable Design program, and the Deputy Director of the Energy Institute.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Laura Thomson

Written by

Laura Thomson

Laura Thomson graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with an English and Sociology degree. During her studies, Laura worked as a Proofreader and went on to do this full-time until moving on to work as a Website Editor for a leading analytics and media company. In her spare time, Laura enjoys reading a range of books and writing historical fiction. She also loves to see new places in the world and spends many weekends walking with her Cocker Spaniel Millie.


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