A group led by Octopus Energy has launched a trial which involves turning electric vehicles into battery packs, in the hope that this will create the “smart grid of the future”.

The Powerloop vehicle-to-grid (V2G) consortium – which consists of ChargePoint Services, Energy Saving Trust, Open Energi, Navigant, UK Power Networks and Octopus Electric Vehicles (a subsidiary of Octopus Energy) – turns electric vehicles into mobile battery packs.

Customers’ homes can then be powered using energy contained within the battery packs, helping balance the grid. It is hoped that this will prevent grid crashes or mass blackouts likely to occur if provisions are not made for the way consumers use electric vehicle (EV) battery packs.

EVs offer controllable electricity storage and, as long as they are connected to a charge point, they can be dialled up and dialled down at will.

A recent report by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that, in August this year, sales of EVs were up 89 per cent on last year. National Grid estimate that there will be up to 11 million on the road by 2030.

Octopus suggested that, if all these EVs were plugged in at the same time and charging at 7kW, this would require 77GW extra electricity generation capacity compared with just over 60GW peak electricity demand for the whole of the UK today.

If this is not managed correctly it could require a massive investment in electricity generation. However, if EV charging is shifted to off-peak times, this removes the need for this extra investment.

“If we use just 50 per cent of those 11 million EVs to power homes at peak times instead, it flips it around, so we have an additional 38GW of electricity supply instead,” Octopus claimed. “EVs become part of the solution, giving us flexible, local energy storage; making it easier for us to transition fully to a carbon-free energy system.”

The Powerloop trial launched at the government’s inaugural Zero Emission Vehicles Summit in Birmingham on 11 September.

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