Nissan announced a major vehicle-to-grid (V2G) trial project with Enel, a multinational power company, in the UK. The automaker has been exploring V2G systems almost as long as the Nissan LEAF program existed and its latest project is the first of its kind in the UK and one of the company’s biggest to date.

Nissan and Enel will install and connect 100 V2G units (see picture above) for Nissan LEAF and e-NV200 owners.

The V2G units act as two-way chargers and EV owners will have the option to charge their vehicle or sell the excess energy stored from their vehicle battery back to the National Grid. They will earn an income from the electricity sold back to the grid, all while playing an active role in grid stability.

Paul Willcox, Chairman of Nissan Europe, said on the announcement:

“Today’s landmark trial in the UK is a significant step forward in renewable energy management, helping shape the future of  industries, cities and societies. Smart energy management is one of the biggest challenges any nation faces for the future which is why this trial is so critical in assessing the feasibility of using variable, more flexible energy sources. We see Nissan electric vehicles as being the mobile energy hubs of the future, pioneering a self-sustaining energy infrastructure that will help solve the capacity issues of the future.This is the first time this has ever been done in the UK and by enabling customers to sell energy back to the grid, we’re providing a financial incentive to choose the sustainable option.”

The new project is part of Nissan’s recent partnership with Enel, Europe’s second largest power company for installed capacity, to develop new “Vehicle-to-Grid” initiatives across Europe. The project is significant as a trial with 100 V2G stations, but in term of energy available, it would only represent a small fraction of the potential such a technology can offer.

Ernesto Ciorra, Enel’s Head of Innovation and Sustainability, on the announcement:

We are thrilled about the launch of this project in the UK. The installation of our innovative two-way charging technology will encourage the integration of non-programmable renewable energy flow into the grid and will help the spread of electric mobility in the country, benefitting the energy sector and the environment, while also having a positive impact on electric owners’ wallets. The fact that Nissan has chosen Enel’s charging technology to trial in the UK is the perfect demonstration of just how much potential the Group’s V2G electric vehicle charging system has to revolutionise not only transport but also the way electricity distribution works.”

Most vehicles participating in the program will likely be equipped with Nissan’s 24 kWh battery pack – meaning that only 2.4 MWh of energy and 240 KW of power can be available under the best case scenario.

But if all 18,000 Nissan electric vehicles in the UK were connected to the energy network, they would generate the equivalent output of a 180 MW power plant. If that was scaled up in a future where all the vehicles on UK roads are electric, vehicle-to-grid technology could generate a virtual power plant of up to 370 GW. This energy capacity would be enough to power the UK, Germany and France, says Nissan.

Tesla is also believed to be working on a similar vehicle-to-grid system based on comments made by Tesla CTO JB Straubel.

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