The first vehicle-to-grid (V2G) trials are set to take place in the UK that will see energy stored in the batteries of electric cars being ceded back to the National Grid.
The V2G trial is being led by Nissan and energy company Enel and will see 100 electric cars installed with the technology being connected to the grid.
Nissan is working with both private and fleet owners of its Nissan LEAF and e-NV200 electric van models to test the new system with regular users of the vehicles.
The automaker said that once V2G is scaled up, owners of its electric vehicles could become a key part of the UK’s electricity network.
It is hoped the V2G system will turn EVs into clean mobile energy units that could store unused power from renewables that can be sent back to the grid to power homes and offices. Renewable energy generation from wind and solar is currently hampered by the difficulty in storing and releasing it to provide a steady electricity supply.
“Smart energy management is one of the biggest challenges any nation faces for the future, which is why this trial is so critical in assessing the feasibility of using variable, more flexible energy sources,” said Paul Willcox, chairman of Nissan Europe.
“We see Nissan electric vehicles as being the mobile energy hubs of the future, pioneering a self-sustaining energy infrastructure that will help solve the capacity issues of the future.”
“This is the first time this has ever been done in the UK and by enabling customers to sell energy back to the grid, we’re providing a financial incentive to choose the sustainable option.”
With the number of EVs on the roads increasing at a steady rate, the National Grid will become increasingly strained, an issue that Nissan hopes V2G will help to mitigate.
Nevertheless, uptake of EVs is slower than initially predicted. The American energy secretary recently admitted that the US will not see one million electric vehicles on its roads until 2020 at the earliest despite previous predictions by US President Barack Obama that this figure would be reached by 2015.
Industry projections suggest that by 2050 there might be 2.4 billion cars on the road, twice as many as there are today.
Steven Holliday, non-executive director, National Grid, said: “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.”
A report last month from the Institute of the Motor Industry found that government investment in electric car infrastructure, including charging stations and repair garages, could boost the UK economy by £51bn per year.