Collaborative project to explore if electric vehicles could power homes

The ‘Vehicle to Energy Communities’ (VECTORS) project, funded by Innovate UK, is exploring how energy from EV batteries could be pushed back to the power grid through ‘bi-directional’ charging.

The collaborative project is also set to explore if drivers could use this type of charging to store excess energy produced by solar panels on their home in their EV batteries. This could lead to further energy being passed back to the grid and provide consumers with individual and community-based money-saving incentives.

Many research projects have focused on vehicle-to-grid (V2G) concepts, but VECTORS – led by British smart-tech company SMPnet – looks to expand the potential of bi-directional charging technologies through a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) approach, with a specific focus on domestic settings.

V2X technology uses data communication, optimisation, and control technology to charge the EV battery when electricity demand is low, and release power back to the grid when the demand is high.

Dr Tracy Ross, an expert in people-centred design of transport service innovations at Loughborough University’s School of Design and Creative Arts, is leading the VECTORS research strand focused on consumer engagement.

“The vehicle-to-home concept that VECTORS is working on would make the most of electric vehicles by seeing them as ‘floating batteries’,” Ross commented.

“As it is such a new concept for people to understand, it is crucial to gain homeowners’ views at an early stage so that the final system is designed to meet their needs, eradicate any concerns, and ensure they get the best experience out of it.”

Wider societal benefits of balancing the grid and making more use of renewable sources won’t be achieved if uptake is low, she added, explaining that the research team’s role is to understand and translate end users’ experience for the technical partners so that users are ‘at the heart of system development.'

The year-long project ends in August 2023. Alongside Loughborough and consortium lead SMPnet, the other partners are EDF Energy R&D CentreOxfordshire County CouncilUrbanomy UK and dcbel.

Anastasios Rousis, SMPnet CEO, said: “Unlocking and expanding the flexibility potential of electric vehicles (EVs) using bi-directional charging solutions could offer significant possibilities for the role of EVs in the decarbonisation of the UK energy system.

“VECTORS is a highly innovative, collaborative research project bringing together world-class expertise across technology, market design, local government, EV manufacture and academic research.”