Anyone in the U.K. owning a Nissan Leaf will soon be able to make money from the vehicle overnight, providing they install a special charger at home.
The partnership between Nissan and energy supplier Ovo Energy allows consumers the option to connect their Leaf through a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) service, giving the supplier access to their battery overnight. Ovo will then use the battery to store electricity purchased when it’s cheapest and sell it off once it becomes more expensive. Ovo will share some of these revenues with the car owner, estimated at £590 a year. To ensure the vehicle is sufficiently powered for trips in the morning, owners can set a minimum charge threshold.
Adding more storage to the U.K.’s grid would enable it to respond more effectively over time to the intermittent nature of renewables such as wind that are being added to the electricity mix. Producing a more stable amount of electricity will also reduce the need for more power stations, saving ratepayers money.
“Electric vehicles are fast becoming a mainstream option for drivers and solve many of the challenges facing our cities,” said Ovo CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick in a statement. “We believe that they have an integral part to play in the twenty-first century power grid and accelerating decarbonization and mobility.”
Some 100,000 plug-in vehicles currently operate across the U.K., but the number is expected to jump in the decades to come. While having more electric vehicles in circulation will substantially boost electricity use, this increase could be mitigated or eliminated entirely if the cars also act as energy storage devices for the grid.
Ovo calculated that if the U.K.’s entire fleet was electric and operating on V2G technology, it could store up to 200 GW of power – a sum more than double the peak output of the current grid. The U.K. government launched a £20 million research fund last year to explore the possibility of widespread V2G adoption.
Concerns have been raised about the long-term impact that this nightly usage would have on the life of the battery, but Ovo argues this form of usage is likely better for the battery than simply being left plugged-in all night.