UK Completes Vehicle-to-Grid Project, Step to Eliminating Diesel Cars by 2035

May 04, 2020 by Gary Elinoff

How exactly does the UK plan to ban new diesel and petrol car sales by 2035? The VIGIL project is a start.

In February, the BBC reported that the UK planned to ban all diesel and petrol car sales by 2035. The original goal was for 2040, but experts claimed that the UK would be unable to reach its goals of zero carbon emissions by 2050 if the country didn't enact the ban sooner. The new ruling will also ban the sale of new hybrid vehicles. 


The sales of SUVs vs. electric vehicles in the UK

The sales of SUVs vs. electric vehicles in the UK. Image used courtesy of the BBC


Meanwhile, the BBC also cited a study from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) that suggests that citizens are buying far more gas-guzzling SUVs than electric vehicles—37 to one. These vehicles counteract the UK's green initiatives, especially since "SUVs are larger and heavier than a standard car, emitting about a quarter more CO2 than a medium-size car and nearly four times more than a medium-sized battery electric vehicle," according to the UKERC.


The Vehicle-to-Grid Intelligent Control (VIGIL) Project

Whether the UK ban on new diesel and petrol car sales comes by 2035 or not, the future of electric vehicles is, in part, somewhat inevitable. To push its goal, the UK funded a two-year project, the vehicle-to-grid intelligent control (VIGIL) project, that was recently completed. The VIGIL project was led by a consortium of research groups who successfully developed two Vehicle-to-Grid/Vehicle-to-Building (V2G/V2B) operation sites.


V2G charging site

V2G charging site 2 at Ashton University. Image used courtesy of Ashton University

With this technology, EV batteries return energy stored back to the grid or back to a building to help meet energy demands. These researchers were also tasked with finding a way to return energy from an EV to a power grid when electric vehicles (EVs) are parked and plugged for charging.


A Four-Part Project

In some grid-connected renewable energy systems, more solar energy is generated during sunny afternoons than the grid can use, according to the US Department of Energy. When there isn’t enough storage available to husband that energy, most states employ "net metering," or a system in which extra electricity generated by grid-connected renewable energy systems "'turns back' your electricity meter as it is fed back into the grid." The VIGIL project follows a similar line of thought.

The consortium partners—Nortech Management Ltd (lead partner), Grid Edge Ltd, ByteSnap Design Ltd, and Aston University—envisioned using EV batteries as part of an energy storage arsenal. 

The project took place at Aston University in Birmingham, UK, and consisted of four parts.

  • Active network management, which amalgamates smaller components of a smart grid with the macro system via software to maximize safety and utility
  • A building energy management system for the smart building
  • Open Charge Point Protocol, a protocol established by the Open Charge Alliance that ensures the universality of EV infrastructure 
  • Four V2G charge-posts


V2G charging site 1at Ashton University

V2G charging site 1 at Ashton University. Image used courtesy of Ashton University

Each of the consortium partners had a part to play in the project. The lead partner Nortech Management tackled active network management while Grid Edge handled distributed energy optimization and ByteSnap Design developed the smart charge controller. 

The Aston University researchers studied the performance of EV batteries over their lifetimes and assessed harmonics data during V2G operation.


A Growing List of V2G Projects

The VIGIL project is only one of many V2G projects. One company,  V2G-Hub, has compiled a list of global vehicle-to-grid projects underway.


There are currently 67 V2G projects worldwide

There are currently 67 V2G projects worldwide. Image used courtesy of the V2G-Hub


As with the VIGIL project, the underlying purpose of these other V2G projects is to enlist EVs to function as parts of the energy storage grid, returning power to smart buildings or to the grid as a whole. At last count, there were fully 67 projects of the sort occurring worldwide.