22 May 2018

Connected Energy's May overview

Connected Energy's May overview; the top trends you need to know

Car owners’ homes to become power plants

The Telegraph writes that British homes are set to become power plants, as households power the grid in the biggest UK trial to date.

The broadsheet says the world’s largest rollout of electric car chargers, that can also sell stored electricity to the UK grid, is on the way.

The vision promises that smart vehicle chargers will mean electric car owners never need to pay for a mile of driving again, because they will automatically store power when it’s cheap and sell it back to the grid at a higher price during peak demand periods.

It's evidence that the shift to tomorrow's smarter energy system continues to hasten, and proof that both electric vehicles and battery storage systems have a crucial role to play in decarbonisation.

The ‘vehicle-to-grid’ power systems will be trialled across 1,000 customers who drive Nissan electric vehicles, before they are made commercially available.

Storage comes to UK homes

In other news, The Guardian writes that consumers are beginning to pair solar with batteries, to store and either use or export the electricity when it makes the most financial sense.

Such installations are not officially monitored, confirms the broadsheet, but the Solar Trade Association estimates 5,000 to 10,000 UK homes now have energy storage, fitted by companies including Tesla, E.ON and Nissan. Imperial College has said cheaper home batteries will be a game-changer for utilities.

Jonathan Tudor, Technology and Innovation Strategy Director at Centrica, told The Guardian that storage aspects are increasingly important.

But, energy stored at home might not automatically be consumed by that household. “You may decide I’ve got excess energy and my personal preference may be to donate that to a vulnerable household down the road,” Tudor said.

And in other developments, the customer/supplier relationship is maturing and changing thanks to the modernisation of UK energy.

Suppliers such as British Gas, instead of just selling gas and electricity, will look to manage how energy is used in the home, and deal with its relationship with the outside world, handling trading, or managing a household’s electric car battery to help the grid in return for payments.

Is legislation needed to clean up UK air?

Finally this month, The Independent writes that a suggestion in leaked reports that a wider ban on sales of non-electric cars would encompass hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius is not going far enough, according to environmentalists.

The transition to electric vehicles is seen as an essential component in the UK’s plans to tackle climate change and air pollution – which is currently at illegal levels.

According to The Independent, reports in both the Financial Times and Autocar have suggested rules currently being considered by ministers would limit new car sales to those able to travel at least 50 miles using only electric power.

Such a change would mean around 98 per cent of all cars currently on sale in Britain would be outlawed.

The anticipated ban on hybrids is part of the Road to Zero strategy, which is currently being discussed in Government and is set to be released soon.

Either way, electric cars are expected to become cheaper in the coming years, as public demand grows and technology improves.

Gareth Redmond-King, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF, told The Independent a ban by 2040 is “almost like stating what’s going to happen anyway,” as the industry is already gearing up for an electric future, with Volvo announcing that all new models from 2019 will be powered by some form of electric propulsion.

As ever, we at Connected Energy will keep you updated with next month's key moves in storage, smart grids, electric vehicles and UK decarbonisation.

(image copyright: Nissan Global)