Nissan Brings Largest V2G Trial Ever To The UK, But Will It Go Mainstream?

1 year ago by Jay Cole 33

Just weeks after teasing V2G technology in the US market (with a concert powered by a LEAF), and in France at a Nissan office the month prior, Nissan is at it again – this time announcing a major V2G trial with multinational power company Enel in the UK.

That said, the first ever Nissan V2G trial in the UK is a big one, as Nissan will install and connect 100 V2G units at locations “agreed by private and fleet owners of the 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.

Despite the fact the system has been fully vetted and in use for years in Japan, Nissan says “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. “

Nissan And Ener Team Up For Largest UK Trail Of V2G

Nissan And Ener Team Up For Largest UK Trail Of V2G

Paul Willcox, Chairman of Nissan Europe, said of the project:

“Today’s landmark trial in the UK is a significant step forward in renewable energy management, helping shape the future of  industries, cities and societies. 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. 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.”

Nissan LEAF Cutaway With V2G Unit

Nissan LEAF Cutaway With V2G Unit

Steven Holliday, Non-Executive Director, National Grid added:

“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.”

Nissan corporate notes the impact if all their LEAFs were V26 enabled in the UK:

Module From Nissan's New 2nd Generation 60 kWh Battery - Ready For V2G Duty? We Think So!

Module From Nissan’s New 2nd Generation 60 kWh Battery – Ready For V2G Duty? We Think So!

Currently if all 18,000 Nissan electric vehicles in the UK were connected to the energy network, they would generate the equivalent output of a 180 MW power plant. If that was scaled up in a future where all the vehicles on UK roads are electric, vehicle-to-grid technology could generate a virtual power plant of up to 370 GW. This energy capacity would be enough to power the UK, Germany and France.

Personally, we are a little tired of all the Nissan V2G “trials”, and wish the company would just make with the commercialization of the tech outside of Japan already…but we have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t happen until the next generation LEAF debuts, complete with a much larger battery (~60 kWh) and a more sturdy life-cycle chemistry, in 2017.

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33 responses to "Nissan Brings Largest V2G Trial Ever To The UK, But Will It Go Mainstream?"

  1. Someone out there says:

    Yeah, with a 24 kWh battery the benefit is dubious. With 60 kWh on the other hand you could easily give up 30 kWh to the grid and still manage your daily routine in most cases.

  2. Alan says:

    We wouldn’t need to buy additional batteries for storage either !

    Here in the UK we probably average around 20 kWh a day consumption, maybe less.

    1. LOL says:

      Me around 10 kwh/day. Can you imagine? Your boss being so nice as to letting you charge from those solar panels on the roof. (call it a bonus) Then you get home, plug your car in and…
      I Know, it’s just a dream, for now. Would still be a good idea to be connected and would still need a small dedicated battery but, can you imagine?

      1. finecadmin says:

        No, I can’t imagine, since your boss wouldn’t allow that… not for free, at least. It wouldn’t happen without a fee, it wouldn’t happen at all, or it would happen as an employee benefit and be conditional.

        In order for value to trade without arbitrage of some sort, there has to be some circumstance preventing a viable market from forming. One possibility is that the employer charging would be a mere trickle, so transaction costs aren’t viable. But then a trickle wouldn’t power your home, would it?

    2. Nero says:

      I don’t know know how big your house or family is, but we live in detached 4 bed, 5 people, not exceeding 10kwh per day with few washes, dishwasher and electric heating. Maybe you need to start to be more efficient? 😀

  3. Alex says:

    Makes a lot of sense, imagine some day when half of new cars are electric, or all 100 Mio per year. 1000 GW NEW power storage capacity every year, thats huge, solar total was 180 GW end of 2014.

  4. evcarnut says:

    Nissan needs to Engineer & build A “Proper” Electric car & not a Conversion compliance car…1st things first…

    1. JR says:

      The Leaf is not a compliance car. There’s over 200K of them already. Other than the longest of trips, it is practical and “proper” for most people – they just don’t know it yet.

    2. Nick says:

      It has a dedicated EV platform. Available in all states, sold many more than needed for credits.

      Not a compliance car.

  5. RN says:

    One more video to this topic

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Ah, that is a new one from the event! Good stuff…will add it into the story! /thanks

    2. Alan says:

      Just waiting for those 60 kWh batteries now !

  6. G2 says:

    Oh Evcarnut, you silly thing; you already know the Leaf isn’t a conversion/compliance car.
    Not getting enough attention? ☺

  7. Leeper says:

    If I lived in a place that had high peak costs, I’d buy a wrecked leaf for cheap and peak shave every day. If you could sell at $0.50 and buy for $0.12, on a 24 kW battery you would make over $3,000 a year. Or is my math horribly wrong?

    1. Lincoln B. says:

      Your math is correct, but your model is wrong. Add in the absence of policy to allow this (in most geographies), degradation to the battery, alone over $0.10/kwh, the cost of buying and installing a dedicated bi- directional charger, $1,500++, and the loss of electricity through inefficiencies (you buy 5 units of electricity but can only sell 4 units). Basically, including all the essential costs kills the economics pretty quickly.

      Plus where is peak electricity routinely $0.38/Kwh higher than off peak at the retail level? For a few months out of the year, maaaaybe. But every day, all year?

    2. finecadmin says:

      Individual homes don’t get access to rates like that- at least, not in the US. You’d need to be a pro, with way more power than one Leaf’s worth to sell. All the utilities I’m aware of give individuals parity on a daily basis, and sometimes not even that. There may be exceptions such as afternoons during heat waves, but that’s a few days each summer.

  8. Ambulator says:

    Leaf batteries are not known for their longevity. It seems foolish to waste its recharges supplying the grid.

    1. Nick says:

      Seems like a lot of degradation is caused by calendar life. Makes sense to get as much value from the cells as they are going to degrade anyways.

      I have the same amount of degradation on my 71k mile LEAF as a friend with only 35k. We’ve had the car for roughly the same amount of time. I wonder if this is typical.

    2. Lincoln B. says:

      Calendar aging is a real thing. And it is greatly influenced by the conditions at which the batteries are kept. Stored in hot+humid conditions at 100% SOC will kill the battery without a single cycle. Stored in a cool environment at 50% charge, and calendar aging will proceed very very slowly.

      That said, in most cases, cycle aging (not calendar aging) is the dominant factor.

      1. Terawatt says:

        No lithium-ion battery can be stored at 100% state of charge without degrading. Very low SoC over time is equally a problem.

        What Nissan could and should do is to give users much better control over charging. I can only choose between 80% and 100%, and there are two timers of which one can be active in a day.

        I’ve tried a couple times to set it up so that it charges as late as possible before I expect to use it, but I’ve always ended up being burned when some unexpected need arises; then I had to go to a fast charger. So I’ve given up and set it to charge whenever I plug in. I’m fine with 80% most of the time and it’s in a cool garage (13 degrees Celsius), so I don’t think this will be a major problem.

        But what I would like my car to do is start charging immediately whenever plugged in if and only if SoC is below a threshold, say 65%, and then continue up to another level, say 90%, each morning. This way I’d have capacity for short trips all the time, more range every day, and less battery degradation. It’s a real shame that the software isn’t up to the task.

  9. Fred R says:

    This feedback regarding LEAF battery degradation is highly interesting. Before reading Nick’s post, I had never heard of this calendar life hypothesis (well, of time elapsed being the main factor).
    This seemingly anecdotal debate is in fact of crucial importance:
    a- If it’s true, then V2G is very relevant for the future and is indeed a very good way to get the most out of your car investment.
    b- If it’s not (and the observed discrepancy is due to statistical dispersion), then V2G is still very far away and might never be a very good idea at all.

    As for now, my take is that battery degradation still essentially depends on the number of charge-discharge cycles, not calendar time, mainly because of anode deposits with each cycle (if I remember correctly). But I’d be interested to know if someone has real data showing otherwise.

    1. Terawatt says:

      It’s very misleading. The batteries do not simply age, as such. It is a matter of subjecting the battery to damaging conditions over long time.

      It’s well known that li-ion batteries don’t like being held at high or low charge. Chemical reactions that lead to irreversible capacity loss speed up in these conditions. Like all chemical reactions, high temperature make them more frequent. So if you live in Florida and charge to 100% and program the car to charge whenever you plug it in, and you drive little, you have something close to a worst case scenario. The battery will be warm to hot most if the time and at a high state of charge the vast majority of the time. It may then degrade a hundred times more quickly than it would in the best case conditions – cool and kept within 30% to 70% the vast majority of the time.

      Bigger battery packs potentially solve many of these problems. First, with twice the capacity you only use half as many cycles to go a particular distance. Second, you have more capacity than you usually need and can therefore charge to less full and still stay more clear of empty every day.

      Unfortunately the software in the LEAF gives the user very limited control over how and when to charge. You can only set one level, either 80% or 100%, and either one time each day out charge whenever you plug in. I’ve found the “daily schedule” to be inconvenient because it left me with little in reserve when something unexpected shows up. So I’ve set it to charge when I plug it in. But that means my battery is at a high state of charge a lot of the time, since the unexpected things don’t happen very often. It’s a shame it can’t charge more intelligently. What I’d like to see is a user selectable threshold, say 65%, combined with a scheduled charge, also to a user selectable level. That would let me charge to 65% whenever I plug in, but to 90% just shortly before I go in the morning. (If I had a bigger battery or my needs were different I’d choose other numbers.)

      In short, degradation happens not only with charging and discharging, but it’s not as simple as ageing.

    2. finecadmin says:

      The Leaf computer has a bunch of parameters to determine your charging score. It’s proprietary info, but reasonable deduction points to calendar time, cycles (including depth), temperatures (likely ambient AND pack), number of fast charges, etc.

  10. ticobird says:

    “Currently if all 18,000 Nissan electric vehicles in the UK were connected to the energy network, they would generate the equivalent output of a 180 MW power plant.”

    Yeah, for about 30 minutes.

    Really this concept is about as foolish as capturing hydrogen through the application of electricity for use in a fuel cell in order to make electricity

    1. Terawatt says:

      Wrong. The main problem with adding more renewable to our energy mix and switching off the most polluting sources is that renewables are intermittent and energy storage is expensive. Fifteen years from now we’ll start to see a stream of batteries with most of their capacity still usable coming from EVs at the end of their life. But due to the growing share of EVs the batteries actually in cars will represent greater capacity than these second life batteries for much longer than fifteen years. It would be foolish not to use them.

      Whether this is useful in the 24 kWh LEAF is questionable, but with 60 kWh being the new entry level soon this makes perfect sense.

      I think this is one of the most important reasons EVs are the right way to go. Far from “just” making transportation much more efficient, they can enable green energy in general.

      1. LOL says:

        I often wonder why no one has ever written an article about that. Evs are, or at least can someday be, so much more than a simple transportation means. They can truly be the beginning of the most important revolution the world has ever seen. Well, tablets, smart phones and laptops were the real beginning but you get my point.

    2. finecadmin says:

      False dichotomy. Frequency regulation doesn’t fall into your black-and-white worldview.

  11. Chris says:

    It’s about leveling supply vs demand changes, not directly replacing a plant.

    1. Lincoln B. says:

      You’re absolutely right. But this is not how it is sold by the media or understood by the public. Stationary, dedicated batteries can do the same job more economically.

      This technology just pulls on so many of peoples’ latent desires, that it keeps sticking around despite its obvious serious shortcomings. “Distributed! Yay! Democratized energy! Yay! Stick it to the evil oil companies! Yay!”

      1. Terawatt says:

        I agree the likening to a power plant is misleading and ridiculous. But I disagree that only stationary batteries should be used as generic buffers.

        Giving EV batteries a second life as generic storage, whether at utilities or in homes, is very sensible and will be a big part of the answer. But even if EVs took 100% of the market starting tomorrow, it’d be fifteen years before we got a stream of used batteries comparable to the ones that are being put into service. And that assumes the car market doesn’t grow in those fifteen years, battery packs don’t get any bigger, and they don’t degrade.

        If we instead assume EV share will take decades to reach 100% and both car market and pack size continues to grow, it’s a safe bet the total capacity of all the used batteries will be less than the total capacity of batteries in the car park for at least sixty years to come.

        Grid losses mean it’s not an exact comparison, but it is plain to see we can add a lot more renewable to the energy mix a lot faster if we make us of EV fleets than if we don’t.

        1. Lincoln B. says:

          True, great quantities of re-used vehicle batteries won’t be around for some time, but neither is the need for storage. The grid is running just fine and quite economically without them.

          Stationary batteries can be either purpose built or re-used vehicle batteries. Purpose built seem especially beneficial. The price of purpose built stationary storage is 1/3 the price of a vehicle with similar capacities. And this gap will only widen with time.

  12. Benedictus says:

    I really feel home storage would be the better solution here. The purposes of the battery technology are so different, that I doubt it will be efficient to combine these functions in a car battery. Besides, a lot of cars are out at work during the day, when at home you could produce the most solar energy for use in the evenings.

    1. finecadmin says:

      False dichotomy. Does “the grid” stop at the substation? Your neighborhood transformer? Your curb? Or something else not even common today?

      The future will include not merely bidirectional homes, but microgrids, co-ops, and quasi-islands. And this future will be here sooner rather than later (depending on legal environment).