Electric Nation is a project of Western Power Distribution (WPD) and CrowdCharge to demonstrate how electric vehicles (EVs) can provide V2G services. The project is different to other V2G projects because it is committed to using four different energy partners instead of just one. This means that the project is a more realistic simulation of a future world in which many streets will have several EVs using V2G chargers with energy suppliers that are diverse and of varying sizes.
British Gas is Britain’s leading supplier of energy, delivering to almost 10 million homes in Britain and more than 400,000 businesses. Participants in the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid trial who are part of the British Gas and CrowdCharge proposition will earn rewards if they plug-in their EV a specified number of times per month.
Twenty-five applicants to the Electric Nation V2G trial will be offered the opportunity to join the project with the British Gas and CrowdCharge proposition. Applicants will be required to switch electricity supplier to British Gas if they are not already with the company and to go onto the latest British Gas two-rate fixed ‘Electric Drivers’ (electricity-only) tariff for the duration of the customer trial. This tariff has two different daily rates giving EV owners cheaper off-peak electricity between 12am – 5am every day. There is no export tariff for this proposition.
EV drivers will inform the CrowdCharge platform when they next need their car and how much energy (or how many miles) they will need for the next day. The first priority for CrowdCharge is to ensure these requirements are met. EVs are often plugged in for over 12 hours overnight but may only need an average of one to two hours of charge. This allows considerable time and flexibility to fit in the EV charging overnight.
With the British Gas and CrowdCharge proposition, for each three-month period during the customer trial, the trial participant should complete two months with at least 15 full plug-in cycles (a full plug-in cycle means that the car is plugged in from 6pm to 5am), and one month with at least the minimum of 10 full plug-in cycles completed. In return, the participant can enjoy one of two chosen incentives. Halfway through the customer trial, the participant may be given the option to choose to switch to a different incentive if they wish. The British Gas reward options are:
- A free Hive™ Hub, which connects Hive™ products so they can be controlled remotely with the Hive™ app on a smartphone, tablet or laptop. After 12 months of consistently meeting or exceeding the plug-in criteria the participant will receive a Hive™ Warm Welcome Home Pack, which, in addition to the Hive™ Hub, includes two Hive™ Light Dimmable bulbs, a Hive™ Plug and a Hive™ Motion Sensor (worth £249). If however, the participant only accumulates six or more months of consistently meeting or exceeding the plug-in requirements the participant will instead receive a three-pack of smart plugs(worth £117) if they select this reward option.
- A monetary incentive of £30 quarterly (every three-month period) credited to the participant’s electricity bill.
Americo Lenza, Portfolio Director, British Gas Services & Solutions, which includes connected home products by Hive™, said: “British Gas is thrilled to be named as a partner for the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project. This trial is all about putting our customers in charge of their energy future. We see a time when our cars, or even the humble hot water tank, can be used as an energy store for excess wind or solar power, storage that can then be discharged when the wind isn’t blowing. This not only helps the UK transition to a net zero future but means we can unlock savings for customers and help us all live more sustainably.”
Mike Potter, CEO of CrowdCharge, comments: “A key element of Electric Nation has been to include a diverse range of different energy partners, to more realistically simulate the vehicle to grid charging landscape in the future. This is why we’re delighted to have British Gas as an energy partner for the project, and we look forward to discovering participants’ views about the different approaches and tariffs of a range of energy suppliers.”
Steven Pinkerton-Clark, Innovation & Low Carbon Networks Engineer for WPD comments: “We are excited that British Gas has decided to join our project. As the UK’s leading energy supplier British Gas is a key element to understanding how EVs can help us manage our network more flexibly through V2G.”
Electric Nation has recruited 100 Nissan EV owners in the WPD licence areas of the Midlands, South West and South Wales to take part in the trial of V2G smart charging technology. Currently, only Nissan EVs can be used for V2G charging due to their CHAdeMO technology. The trial, which is offering free installation of the V2G smart chargers worth £5,500, will help Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) and others to understand how V2G charging could work with their electricity networks.
The V2G trial follows the first Electric Nation project from 2016 to 2019 which at the time was the world’s largest EV smart charging trial. The trial captured data from more than two million hours of car charging, providing real life insight into people’s habits when charging their vehicles.
By plugging in at specified times and putting energy back into the grid, active participants of the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project are expected to earn rewards (which vary dependent upon the energy partner proposition groups) over the customer trial period, currently scheduled from June 2021 to June 2022 (trial dates revised in February 2021). A total of nearly 650 EV drivers have now joined Electric Nation.