How Smart City project GrowSmarter integrates Intelligent Mobility

By Marketplace Editorial

Interview with Anna Domènech, Lead of Intelligent Mobility for Energy Transition (IMET) initiative, Section Manager for External & Government Affairs at Nissan Europe.

Anna Domènech, IMET and Nissan Europe

What are the 10 IMET Flagship projects?     

IMET focuses on those solutions enabling the integration of EVs into the grid, like V2G or second life batteries used as stationary energy storage systems. There is a large number of demonstrator projects ongoing across Europe in this field. IMET members have been very active in this sense, partnering in many of these projects. All of them will collectively contribute to unlocking the necessary technologies to reach a zero emissions future.

At IMET, we have carefully selected 10 impactful and complementary projects to showcase what intelligent mobility is doing to improve energy systems, what are the benefits for citizens and what are the business models behind that. This set of projects is meant to make the clear case for these technologies to regulators and authorities, underpinning the messages of IMET’s White Paper “Accelerating the Energy Transition”

In the weeks to come we will be publishing articles on each project to raise awareness on the innovative technologies and the challenges the different projects come up against.

Stay connected… by December, we plan to publish a summary of lessons learned in the 10 Flagship projects with two goals: supporting the definition of the future pilots that will keep developing the technology and providing further guidance to stakeholders on how to prepare society for its market uptake.

The first project we take a deep dive into is GrowSmarter.  So how did this project integrate Intelligent Mobility?

GrowSmarter is a lighthouse project funded by Horizon 2020 with 25m€ in which Barcelona, Stockholm and Cologne showcase 12 smart solutions to support growth and sustainability in Europe. Our demonstrator within GrowSmarter was established at Nissan’s headquarters in Barcelona and sought to explore the potential of V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything).

V2X is a system underpinned by V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) technology. Using the bidirectional energy flow capacity provided by V2G chargers, V2X allows the energy from EVs to be transferred to homes, buildings, other vehicles or the grid. In this case, it focused on the interaction between the vehicles and the buildings (V2B).

In partnership with Barcelona City Council and IREC (Catalan Research Centre for Energy), GrowSmarter tested the integration of electric vehicles, buildings, and local energy generation in cities through the combination of two V2G chargers, photovoltaic panels and a second life battery. This was all controlled by an advanced Energy Management System and a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system. The project also offered an e-Carsharing service to employees These employees were the ones then getting familiar with using the V2G chargers.

GrowSmarter develops V2G chargers

What were the proven benefits?

The project ended in December 2019. Our demonstrator succeeded in proving how EVs are able to offer other services than just mobility by taking advantage of what they can do while parked. Thanks to the integrated solution the Nissan headquarters reduced energy consumption by 13%, saved 16% of energy costs and cut CO2 emissions by 17.6%. 

EVs offer other services than just mobility - reduction of CO2 emissions energy consumption and energy costs

Results showed that V2G chargers using the right Energy Management System decrease total energy costs in a larger magnitude than any smart charging application.

What is the upscaling and replication potential of the solutions and how will you exploit it?

GrowSmarter results should be the basis for deployingcloser to market pilots at the European level aiming to continue improving V2X solutions. This is very much needed to fill the gaps between the current state of the technology and the real market needs. Following this path we could finally reach the full potential of V2X, maximising the advantages of energy storage and energy efficiency.

In order to fully exploit the scalability and replicability potential of the solution, we must face the three main challenges encountered. 

Firstly, grid codes in many countries do not recognize EVs as a distributed energy storage resource able to inject power into the network. Therefore, the grid interconnection and certification process is slow, expensive or even prohibited. 

Secondly, we need to create sustainable business models. For that, energy systems need to be decentralized and energy tariffs re-designed to better reflect the real-time value of energy and capacity in the power system.  Right now, many buildings are not exposed to this kind of tariffs or do not have the capacity charges which enable them to optimally schedule V2X charging and discharging.

Finally, it is necessary to increase social acceptance. There currently is low customer awareness of V2X technologies and their potential benefits. As a result, the value proposition to end-users is poorly understood. 

In addition, I believe it is very important to maintain international collaboration and knowledge exchange on V2X. The large amount of knowledge being cultivated from R&D and innovation projects needs to be consolidated to move forward in the most efficient way. As happens in many fields, cooperation between actors is critical for V2X to become truly scalable and replicable among counties.

Based on the lessons learned, what are your recommendations to policymakers?

On one side, we need legislation to match reality. Cities should be empowered with new regulatory means and resources to make Europe’s energy transition possible. In GrowSmarter, getting the permits to install bi-directional chargers was already a substantial challenge because there was a clear lack of regulation in this area. V2X applications should be addressed explicitly in the national legislative frameworks for electricity networks operation. Moreover, important matters such as the development of standards should be coordinated at EU level; the Commission should oversee the development processes, closely collaborating with manufacturers and other relevant sector stakeholders. 

On the other side, we need governments to promote education and engagement campaigns for EV users as it is evident from the project that there is a dramatic lack of understanding of the benefits of V2X technology. There is also a range of concerns that are not being properly managed, such as data security, battery aging and range anxiety. As an example, spreading clear messages about the issue of battery warranty implications of using V2X applications, would be appreciated by EV owners as it directly affects the total cost of ownership of their car. Sharing clear information about the benefits and gains to be made will also encourage more owners to get involved.

So much of the energy transition relies on changes of consumer behavior: where they get their energy from, how they store it, what vehicles they drive, etc. Again, collaboration here is crucial. It is the joint responsibility of industry and government to ensure consumers are well informed about the energy and mobility choices they make. Empowering consumers in this way will truly help accelerate the clean energy transition.