British Gas joins Western Power V2G trial

  • March 2, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

British Gas has joined the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid (V2G) trial, a UK project run by Western Power Distribution (WPD) and CrowdCharge to demonstrate how electric vehicles can provide V2G services.

Electric Nation is using four energy partners instead of just one. This means the project is a more realistic simulation of a future world in which many streets will have a number of EVs using V2G chargers with energy suppliers that are diverse and of varying sizes.

“A key element of Electric Nation has been to include a diverse range of different energy partners, in order to more realistically simulate the vehicle to grid charging landscape in the future,” said Mike Potter, CEO of CrowdCharge. “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.”

British Gas supplies energy to almost ten million homes in Britain and more than 400,000 businesses. Participants in the 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 trial will be offered the opportunity to join the project with the British Gas and CrowdCharge proposition. Applicants must 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 electricity-only tariff for the one-year trial. This tariff has two daily rates giving EV owners cheaper off-peak electricity between midnight and 5am every day.

EV drivers will inform the CrowdCharge platform when they next need their car and how much energy or how many kilometres they will need for the next day. The first priority 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.

For each three-month period during the one-year trial, each participant should complete two months with at least 15 full plug-in cycles with the car plugged in from 6pm to 5am, and one month with at least the minimum of ten full plug-in cycles completed. Halfway through the trial, the participant may be given the option to choose to switch to a different incentive if they wish.

“British Gas is thrilled to be named as a partner for the Electric Nation Vehicle to Grid project,” said Americo Lenza, portfolio director at British Gas. “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.”

By plugging in at specified times and putting energy back into the grid, active participants of the project are expected to earn rewards over the trial period, scheduled from June 2021 to June 2022. The British Gas reward options are a free Hive hub or £30 per quarter off the electricity bill.

The hub connects Hive products so they can be controlled remotely with an 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 Welcome Home plan, which, in addition to the hub, includes two light dimmable bulbs, a Hive plug and a motion sensor, worth £249 in total. If 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.

“We are excited that British Gas has decided to join our project,” said Steven Pinkerton-Clark, an engineer at WPD. “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 is recruiting 100 Nissan EV owners in to take part in the trial. 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 £5500, should help distribution network operators nd others understand how V2G charging could work with their electricity networks.

The 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.

More than 650 EV drivers have applied to join Electric Nation so far.