Homes powered by RCVs

Veolia has completed a pioneering vehicle-to-grid trial in the UK using RCVs as a flexible energy source. FVI reports.

At Veolia’s Deep Dive Energy Event in London in January, the company unveiled its V2G innovation to enable RCVs to power UK homes by feeding stored energy from their batteries back to the grid.

Veolia intends to electrify all 1,800 RCVs in its fleet to boost energy security by 2040. By doing so, the company can provide the grid with approximately 200 MW of flexible power capacity daily, equivalent to the evening peak-energy demand of more than 150,000 homes.

‘We need to innovate in the local decarbonising of energy and transform our traditional approaches to take advantage of untapped sources,’ says Estelle Brachlianoff, CEO of Veolia. ‘This requires a mindset change and a collective willingness to rethink how we produce, distribute, and consume energy. By enabling electric vehicles to become active players in the power grid, we are harnessing their potential to balance energy supply and demand, reduce carbon emissions and promote renewable energy.’

Electricity demand in the UK is expected to double by 2050, and the government has announced its target to decarbonise the National Grid by 2035. This means batteries have a role in the country’s energy future as they can recharge from the electrical grid and feed back stored energy using V2G technologies. This can provide energy during peak-demand periods, contribute to grid stability by regulating frequency and voltage, and store excess renewable energy for later use.

Estelle explains that Veolia has taken the potential of this technology to a new level by applying it to RCVs. These are ideally suited to V2G as their batteries are six times larger than those in an average car, and the fleet is usually parked at times of peak energy consumption.

The trial’s first phase has been successfully completed, enabling 110 KW of energy to be charged and discharged from two specially designed bi-directional vehicles, enough to power 110 households for over two hours during peak evening hours. Veolia plans to expand and test the trial on the streets, using Westminster Council’s collection vehicles.

In addition, Veolia intends to maximise the use of local decarbonising energy from its waste-to-energy plants to power vehicles, creating a circular loop. This includes the Landmann Way vehicle depot, powered by low-carbon electricity from the nearby South East London combined heat and power plant.

Veolia operates ten energy recovery facilities in the UK. These transform non-recyclable waste into electricity for more than 400,000 homes, taking the pressure off the grid. Some of these facilities also produce heating for communities through district heating networks using combined heat and power technology.

‘Flexibility is the key to super-charging the UK’s energy security and the transition to a smarter, more sustainable market,’ says Gavin Graveson, Senior Executive Vice President of Veolia Northern Europe. We must adapt to increasing energy demand and adopt smarter energy systems to bring resilient, dependable, and low-carbon energy to our homes and businesses. Flexibility innovations like this one have the potential to revolutionise the way we manage our energy usage and represent a huge opportunity to cut costs and carbon.’

The project has seen Veolia partner with electric vehicle charger manufacturer Turbo Power Systems (TPS), vehicle repower expert Magnetic Systems Technology (Magtec), and EV charge point management software provider Fuuse, with support from technology provider Advantics.