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Electric Royal Mail vans and taxis to power homes during vehicle-to-grid trials

Joseph Flaig

A non-electric Royal Mail van (Credit: iStock)
A non-electric Royal Mail van (Credit: iStock)

The government has awarded almost £30m to projects aimed at using electric vehicles to feed back into the grid and power people’s homes.

Electric equivalents will replace Royal Mail vans and Addison Lee taxis in Oxford during one of the 21 vehicle-to-grid (V2G) schemes. The funding, from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, will pay for research, design and development exploring the technology and commercial opportunities.

Last month, an expert from the International Renewable Energy Agency said electric cars worldwide will soon have 10 times the storage of stationary batteries and should be thought of as “batteries on wheels”.

The government hopes the grid could “borrow” energy from cars during peak hours, before recharging the vehicles during off-peak times ready for drivers to set off again.

“As the number of electric vehicles grows and their battery capabilities increase, there is a huge opportunity for them to make a significant contribution to a smart grid,” said transport minister Jesse Norman. “These projects are at the cutting edge of their field. Just like the visionary designs of Brunel and Stephenson in transport, they could revolutionise the ways in which we store and manage electricity, both now and in the future.”

In Oxford, EDF Energy R&D UK is leading the V2GO demonstration project. The scheme, also involving the University of Oxford, Oxfordshire County Council and others, is a large-scale V2G demonstration using 100 electric fleet vehicles from various organisations including delivery and taxi companies.

“Electric vehicles will play an important role in the future of UK energy and its economy,” said Dan Bentham from EDF Energy. “They will have a beneficial impact on the environment by reducing emissions and improving air quality. Through our research, EDF Energy will use new technologies, business models and smart systems to make low-carbon transport, and the infrastructure and market conditions needed for its success, a reality.”

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

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