How V2G could stabilise the grid

Ernesto Ciorra is one of the speakers at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin from May 8 to 12.

Ernesto Ciorra is one of the speakers at the Energy Storage World Forum in Berlin from May 8 to 12.

By Jason Deign

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) storage may be all that grids need for stability as renewables increase, according to a speaker at the upcoming Energy Storage World Forum, on May 8 to 12.

“With V2G technology we can provide grid stabilisation services without any need for additional storage reserves, but by simply aggregating electric vehicle batteries,” said Ernesto Ciorra, Enel’s head of innovation and sustainability.

“With the current technology that we are already improving, for a country like Denmark to provide stabilisation services we need about 40 electric vehicles, while in Germany and UK the minimum number is about 100.”

Ciorra told Energy Storage Report that if all the 18,000 Nissan electric vehicles in the UK were connected to the electricity network, they would generate an output equivalent to that of a 180MW power plant.

“If that were to be scaled up in a future where all vehicles on UK roads were electric, V2G technology could generate a virtual power plant of up to 370GW,” he said. 

Powering the UK, Germany and France

“That energy capacity would be enough to power the UK, Germany and France combined.”

Ciorra said industry projections show that by 2050 there might be twice as many cars on the road as there are today.

“This means that the V2G-enabling electric vehicle portfolio, currently including the Nissan Leaf and E-NV200, and the Mitsubishi Outlander, will grow,” he said.

Ciorra’s remarkable conclusions follow tests in what Enel says is the world’s first fully commercial V2G hub, in Denmark.

The venture, launched last August, is a collaboration between Enel, automotive manufacturer Nissan and Nuvve, a leading V2G services provider.

Electric vans for the company fleet

As part of the experiment, the Danish utility Frederiksberg Forsyning has installed 10 Enel V2G units, each with 10kW of capacity, and purchased 10 zero-emission, 100% electric Nissan e-NV200 vans for the company fleet.

When the vans are not in use, they can be plugged into the Enel V2G units at the utility’s headquarters in Copenhagen, and either get energy from the grid or give it back.

Nuvve provides a platform, initially developed by the University of Delaware, that controls the power flow to and from the vehicles and ensures the driver’s mileage needs are always met while optimising the power available to the grid.

The project aims to allow Frederiksberg Forsyning to become an active participant in Denmark’s energy management system, helping to stabilise and balance demand on the grid.

Enel is keen to develop V2G as part of moves to gradually phase out fossil fuels and integrate renewables onto the grid in its home market of Italy and abroad. 

Steadily becoming a leader

“Green energy is steadily becoming a leader on the European power market and consequently the energy industry has changed,” said Ciorra.

“There is overcapacity in Italy, in part thanks to increased green energy production, and as such we decided to rethink the future of 23 of Enel’s thermal power plants in the country.”

Enel’s Futur-e project involves decommissioning the sites and turning them “into new opportunities for the community, collected through calls for tenders or ideas that directly involve local, national and international stakeholders,” Ciorra said.

Of the 13GW of capacity spread across the 23 Enel Italian power plants, 10.7GW has already been decommissioned.

At the same time as retiring fossil-fuel plants, Enel is working to develop carbon-free generation sources as part of a commitment to zero emissions by 2050. 

Renewable generation providing base load

Ciorra noted: “In some countries, like Italy, we observe a trend of renewable generation, especially solar, increasingly providing the base load while thermal generation provides peak loads.”

Despite the potential of V2G, “we are already investing in storage and smart energy distribution to tackle the intermittency of renewable generation,” said Ciorra.

The importance of storage was underscored last year when Enel bought the US system developer Demand Energy.

“The acquisition directly supports Enel’s global business strategy by increasing operational efficiency and enhancing digitisation to drive growth, performance, and flexibility,” Ciorra claimed.

“Moreover, Demand Energy’s in-depth knowledge of battery technology will enable Enel to maximise the usage of this component in a range of different applications.”

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