New £20m government investment in smarter transport and energy

Money will help develop “electric vehicles capable of returning electricity to the grid”, promises the government

Posted 10 July 2017 by Gary Flood

The government plans to take a big step forward with its Industrial Strategy and create a smarter energy system with a number of so-called “vehicle-to-grid projects” to help boost the number of electric cars on UK roads.

The idea: look at technology to allow plug-in electric vehicles to not only draw power from the grid when charging, but return it to people’s homes or back to the grid.

The move is significant for the growing electric transport sector, as the government claims there are already 100,000 electric cars and 11,000 charge-points available, thanks to its support.

As this number grows they become a resource for a smart electricity grid, bringing benefits for drivers and creating “a more flexible and efficient energy system”, claims the Ministries behind Friday’s announcement, the Department for Transport, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, with the support of the Office for Low Emission Vehicles.

The extra money is to be awarded to three types of innovative vehicle to grid projects:

  • investigating the ways vehicle to grid technology can be used in the future
  • industrial research or experimental development to develop vehicle-to-grid charging equipment
  • demonstrator trials in the real-world environment in the shape of projects that trial vehicle to grid technology in different locations across the country.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said that the government’s ambition is that “nearly all cars and vans on our roads are zero emission by 2050”.

The competition process will start in the next few weeks, with the aim of winners being notified in December and projects starting in early 2018.

For Simon Edmonds, Manufacturing and Materials Director at Innovate UK, “These competitions present ground-breaking opportunities for UK businesses to develop the next stage of vehicle to grid products and services. The potential of these technologies are huge, both for businesses and consumers.”

Financial support for energy innovation will double by 2021 and over £600m is already being invested to accelerate the transition to ultra-low emission vehicles, adds the government.