A consortium of British companies has secured £1,344,552 in government funding to explore how electricity stored in electric vehicle (EV) batteries can be used to smooth out peaks in supply and demand on the UK’s electricity grid.
3ti, the UK’s leading designer, installer, funder and operator of solar car parks, is leading the new project, which is being funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, delivered by Innovate UK. The project is setting out to integrate bi-directional DC charging and the associated power management systems into Papilio3, a pop-up solar car park and EV-charging hub. According to the consortium, the ‘V2X FastHub’ project will provide a clear pathway to help resolve the issue of intermittent supply from renewables by using EV batteries as grid assets.
The project consortium allows includes advanced EV power solutions provider Turbo Power Systems (TPS), smart energy company GridBeyond and EV and decarbonisation experts Cenex. Their 17-month collaboration aims to deliver a state-of-the art system, including a six-month real-world demonstration.
3ti will lead the project, delivering a customised Papilio3 with smart grid controls and a 280 kWh DC battery. TPS will harness its DC microgrid systems, managing the bi-directional charging technology through both CCS and CHAdeMO EV charge points, while GridBeyond will oversee energy management and aggregation services through its flexible energy management system. Cenex will host the vehicle trial, which will include the procurement of the trial vehicle fleet, data capture, analysis and final report to Innovate UK.
Specially adapted as a V2X FastHub unit for the project, 3ti’s innovative Papilio3 is a ‘smart grid in a box’ that can host up to 12 EVs at a time, housed within an upcycled, rapidly deployable shipping container that can be placed almost anywhere. With a solar canopy and energy-storage battery, the system has already delivered in a range of applications for factories, hospitals, leisure centres and council buildings across the UK. For this particular application, Papilio3 will implement a new DC microgrid system – integrating three times faster, bi-directional DC EV charge points with a 280 kWh integral battery storage system and 20 kWp solar roof array.
‘Everybody wants more EVs on the grid,’ said Mark Potter, 3ti’s CTO. ‘They represent a massive scale, distributed energy resource that can be used to balance real-time supply and demand. This project will prove that bi-directional EV charging can work in the real world. Connected EVs will be teamed together to act as virtual power and energy storage facilities, with each car releasing and replenishing its stored energy according to user preferences and grid demand. This generates income and cost savings, which can be passed on to our customers.’
According to the consortium, smart microgrids support a more sustainable and reliable energy transition, helping the UK meet its net zero and energy security targets. This project will be the first in the world to trial a 12-charge-point DC Smart Microgrid for CCS V2X based on ISO15118-20, which was published in April 2022. Each charge point will also support CHAdeMO for compatibility with existing vehicles. This innovative set-up will provide faster, bi-directional EV charging at speeds of up to ±30 kW, with much higher power and round-trip energy efficiency than AC solutions.
‘Being able to recharge at 30 kW is critical to success in this market,’ Potter continued. ‘In destination charging, most EVs will only charge at 7 kW or 11 kW using AC, even if the charge point is rated at 22 kW. Being able to charge at 30 kW regardless of vehicle limitations makes more energy available for V2X export without impacting the overall net charge. With DC microgrid V2X, meaningful energy and power levels can make it worthwhile to the asset owners, also offering up to 95 per cent round-trip efficiency – compared to typically 60–70 per cent in the AC domain. The key to unlocking V2X value is having lower OpEx and CapEx, and this project will deliver both.’
‘With almost a decade of experience in developing V2X technology, Cenex is excited to bring a novel concept to life in this space,’ said Matthew Knight, principal technical specialist at Cenex. ‘We’re creating pre-fabricated hub solutions that integrate renewable generation, energy storage and the latest bidirectional EV charging technology to maximise energy use and value while reducing emissions.
‘In this project, our role as a research and technology organisation involves running a technology demonstration, focus group workshops, trial data collection, technical analysis and business case modelling,’ he continued, ‘thereby embodying our commitment to identifying and evaluating solutions that drive both the commercial and technical viability of V2X through public dissemination in the multitude of forms Cenex is renowned for.’