Ebb & Flow Energy Systems
About the project
The project started as a feasibility study that had four project partners and was funded by the Technology Strategy Board.
• KAM Futures is an SME research and development based consultancy business specialising in the Energy and Transport sectors.
• Cenex is an SME specialising in the low carbon vehicle market.
• Energy Saving Trust is an organisation focussed on promoting action that leads to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions – the key contributor to man-made climate change.
• Cardiff University is a university that is providing the academic support in the Energy and ICT sectors.
The feasibility study project addressed the following issues
The national electricity grid has capacity constraints that restrict the connection of distributed power generation and additional loads in particular locations. The growth of the electric vehicle (EV) market is one of the ways of reducing the carbon emissions from the transport sector. There are various projections of how quickly the EV market will grow and as a consequence the amount of additional load that may be added on the electricity grid. If the high growth estimates happen there are likely to be significant capacity issues on the high and low voltage networks. In addition, to minimise the emissions from transport the energy should come from low carbon sources, ideally close to the point of use to minimise any transmission losses.
In the short to medium term decisions need to be made to provide additional grid capacity, restrict the connection of both distributed generation and EV’s or consider active network management techniques as part of the smart grids solutions. In the medium term, EV’s rather than being part of the problem could become part of the solution. If appropriate supply and demand control measures are put in place, in the context of a managed local network, the EV batteries could potentially help balance the intermittent supply from some renewable sources with the variable demand on the local low voltage network without the need for expensive network reinforcement
The feasibility study has led to the funding of a demonstration project funded by Innovate UK with an expanded project team that started in January 2015 and runs through to June 2017.
The demonstration project
What is this project about?
Electric vehicles (EVs) could have the potential to transform the way we use energy on a daily basis. Power cuts and expensive peak demand tariffs could become a thing of the past. Could you power your house with your car? Could you power your car with your house? Would you like to be paid to drive your car to work and power your office block? What impact will EVs have on our electricity prices? These, and more, are the questions we will be hoping to answer through this two and a half year project.
How will we achieve this?
Partially funded by Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) the project will seek to manage, improve and reduce the electricity use of UK buildings, from single properties through to large commercial premises such as science and business parks. This will be achieved through development of three key technologies;
• Virtual Power Plant (VPP) – a cloud based ‘power plant’, capable of utilising electricity storage assets such as static batteries or vehicles through a software package, controlled by electricity providers.
• Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Unit – EVs will plug into this unit to provide both charging for the vehicle and enable it to act as a battery store, either to provide electricity directly to a building or to the National Grid using the VPP.
• Building Energy Management System (BEMS) – this will provide the control functionality for the V2G unit, enabling the unit to communicate with both a building and the VPP to determine the most appropriate charging or discharging option.
Furthermore, the project will look to evaluate the impact the technology being developed will have on our local energy systems through computational modelling, physical demonstration projects and engagement with the public. Specifically, research will seek to establish if there is a financial and environmental benefit to installing this equipment in the home and work place.
How might it work?
Electricity demand across the UK varies depending upon the time of day and year. For example, peak electricity demand for the UK is between 4 and 7pm on a week day. This is because everyone has arrived home from work and turned on multiple appliances, causing a massive increase in electricity requirements to the National Grid. Currently this is supported by large fossil fuel power stations that run around the clock to anticipate any increase in the base demand. However, we are exploring whether this additional demand could instead be provided through utilising the excess electricity stored in an EV or battery storage asset, redistributing the electricity across the local network and as such reducing the requirements on traditional power stations. Any EV owner could be able to participate, signing up to a scheme offered by the VPP provider. The provider could then offer them a price for the electricity in their electric vehicle and if the EV owner agrees, will use the electricity stored in their vehicle. The BEMS until will enable the vehicle user to specify where they will be travelling next and how much electricity they will require, ensuring they are always able to use the vehicle whenever they need it.
The study is based on three technical components. Firstly the Virtual Power Plant (VPP) at an aggregate level combining energy generation from multiple sources, leading to "positive energy" buildings, i.e. having the ability to satisfy their own energy needs (thermal and/or electric) and contribute excess power to the community. Secondly electric vehicles (EVs) with a vehicle to grid capability and smart metering to allow the ebb and flow of energy between the grid, the virtual power plant and the EVs. The third element involves identifying business models for implementation and operation of the system. The positive energy building concept becomes technically and economically feasible if extending its boundary to groups of buildings, campuses or communities (aggregators). The feasibility study aims to indetify the issues that need to be addressed in these three areas and develop an approach to addressing the issues and the appropriate business model or models for developing a solution.
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