London bus garage becomes world’s largest V2G trial site

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A North London bus garage is set to become a ‘virtual power station’, generating electricity from buses when not in use.

Following a transformation to garage nearly 100 new electric buses, Northumberland Park is now one of the biggest electric bus facilities in Europe. The project, called Bus2Grid, is believed to be the world’s largest vehicle-to-grid (V2G) trial site.

V2G technology enables energy stored in an EV’s battery to be fed back into the electricity network. By recharging when demand is low and putting energy into the grid when it is high, V2G is designed to help manage the peaks and troughs, balance the network and make it more efficient.

If the entire London bus fleet of around 9,000 vehicles were to be converted with the technology being used in the project, it could theoretically provide enough energy to supply more than 150,000 homes.

The three-year Bus2Grid project will be led by utility infrastructure solutions provider SSE Enterprise with partners including bus operator Go-Ahead London, bus manufacturers BYD and Scotland-based Alexander Dennis, the University of Leeds and electricity distribution network UK Power Networks, with aggregation of the buses supported by Origami.

The initial trial will use the batteries of 28 double-decker buses, capable of returning over 1MW energy to the grid. It will explore both the commercial value and social benefits to the energy and passenger transportation systems by developing services for the national grid, regional distribution network operators, bus operators and transport authorities. The development and testing of the underpinning technology is also an important objective of the trial.

Niall Riddell, smart systems innovation sector director for SSE Enterprise, said: “Central to the challenge of decarbonising our transport and achieving climate change targets is how we can optimise the existing flexibility within the energy system. Developing a charging infrastructure that operates in two directions so that batteries can give back as well as take from the grid is an important part of this.

“SSE Enterprise is proud to have electrified most of the bus garages in London that operate electric buses. Delivering the Bus2Grid project is the next natural step in using smart technology to make bidirectional charging the reality for today’s bus users.”

A key objective of the Bus2Grid project is to deliver 11 retrofit and 22 new build V2G-enabled e-buses and 2.64MW of bi-directional charging infrastructure at Northumberland Park, with over 1-2 MW of V2G response

Go-Ahead London was chosen by Bus2Grid project advisor Transport for London to run the first electric buses in London in 2013. It has now grown its fleet to 240 – making it the largest electric bus operator in Britain.

UK Power Networks forecasts there will be more than 3.6 million EVs connected to its network by 2030, an increase of more than 3.5 million on the 95,000 vehicles currently in its region, creating significant additional demand on the energy system. It said the options are either to spend customers’ money on building new infrastructure to meet this increasing demand, or to charge in a smarter way to avoid it.

The Bus2Grid project is funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles with the support of Innovate UK.

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