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18 December 2020

Implementing V2G and 2nd life batteries requires action from public sector

Juan Cristóbal García, ZABALA

Juan Cristóbal García of the innovation consulting company Zabala spoke with IMET about the EU market situation on the linkage between energy and mobility. The barriers he sees in the implementation of V2G and 2nd life batteries among other are often non-technological - actions from the public sector are required.


What is your perception of the EU market situation on the linkage between Energy and Mobility?

There are a lot of good news in the research and development area, with several pilots in place dealing with V2G (vehicle-to-grid) in buildings, use of 2nd life batteries, creation of Virtual-Power Plants (VPP) associated to the road charging infrastructure, or energy storage for opportunity charging of buses. As an example, the SCC-1 STARDUST project is testing V2G in Pamplona, in two different cases, and also the use of 2nd life batteries, and this is a demo project in high Technology Readiness Levels. So, the technologies are already developed.

What are the barriers and how are they delaying the deployment of the technology?

The market is still immature, and from the point of view of the innovation cycle, there is a lack of a dominant design or a dominant business model, with several non-technological barriers to be solved.

"The market is still immature, (...) with several non-technological barriers to be solved"

Of course, there are some barriers that will be naturally solved by the market, such as the growing penetration of electric vehicles in the next years. It is clear that new energy services will emerge when the market opportunity will be bigger. We must consider that we are talking about a secondary impact of the mobility electrification.

However, we find some barriers linked to social and regulatory aspects, other barriers linked to industrial strategies of vehicle manufacturers, and we see also the difficulty of the market actors building solid business models. These are the barriers that may require action from the public sector.

Do you mean there is a lack of funding for pilots?

As mentioned, there have been several successful pilots throughout Europe. Of course, more pilots will be needed for testing new business models or new regulations, rather than just providing conventional R&D funding. We at Zabala see the public sector as a facilitator of the path to market, helping to remove barriers in an active learning-by-doing way, working together with citizens, DSOs, and acquiring first-hand knowledge on the actual blocking stones.

"More pilots will be needed for testing new business models or new regulations, rather than just providing conventional R&D funding."

Let’s go into more detail on these barriers you mention. Do you have an example to show?

Of course. In the Mediterranean countries such as Spain, the majority of the cities’ population lives in multi-storey buildings, with a large parking in the underfloor belonging to the community of owners. So, the picture is quite different to the family houses: multi-storey buildings have limited space for PV panels on top of the building, and a mix of shared and individual electricity installations.

In these buildings, decisions on the shared elements are taken by the owners’ assembly in several situations. So, the decision-making process is an element to be considered. To avoid blockages due to this, Spanish regulation was changed to allow each owner to install a charging point in the parking without the need of the owners’ assembly authorisation. Then, the charging point is connected to the smart meter of the individual consumer.

This was, apparently, a good solution. However, let’s imagine what will happen when a high number of the owners will have its cabling through the parking space. In this case, the regulations impact also the commercial offer of both, services and charging points, and will impact the potential V2G services.

Ideally speaking, common European regulations may favour the deployment of the technologies and the development of the charging infrastructure by the electronics manufacturers.

Residential buildings are very different among the EU countries. What happens with office buildings and other private buildings?

Offices and commercial buildings are a very good case for the IMET objectives: cars are charged at home during the night, and they deliver energy to the office or the commercial building. So, on the one hand, the building takes benefit from the car user. Who is “the building”? It may be the building owner, or it maybe an ESCO company, or even a facility manager company. The non-energy companies can also play a role in offering energy services, as explored for instance in the AMBIENCE project coordinated by VITO.

On the other hand, the car owner is expected to obtain some reward for connecting the car to the building, and this has to be defined in the business models that are still being developed.

You also mentioned the industrial strategies of vehicle manufacturers. Is this impacting the intelligent mobility link to energy?

The cars using CCS standard will be the majority in the European market. However, the CCS cars available today are not V2G ready. New vehicles to be launched to the market will be V2G ready in the next years. Currently, there is no visibility on the percentage of cars that will be V2G ready, and the speed in the market introduction.Oppositely, cars using CHAdeMO, such as the Nissan LEAF that are already V2G ready, will probably see how CCS standard grow in the market. This is similar to the VHS versus BETAMAX competition!

"The cars using CCS standard will be the majority in the European market. However, the CCS cars available today are not V2G ready."

Will the electricity distribution companies play a relevant role in the intelligent mobility link to energy?

Yes, of course the DSOs are a relevant player that are expected to offer solutions and can take advantage of the energy services provided by the car. For example, they can aggregate the storage capacity of thousands of cars connected to the grid and offer energy services. In this case, regulations are key and are still under development, and the commercial offer is expected to be developed in parallel to the growth of the EVs market and the V2G readiness of the cars.

You work on a European innovation ecosystem. Where can we find the IMET objectives in the next 2021-2027 programming?

ZABALA works in the ETIP SNET and also in the ETIP BATTERIES EUROPE, that are well related to the IMET objectives. We see several EU programmes related to the IMET initiative: In HORIZON EUROPE, the “Cluster 5” gathers both, Energy and Mobility, under the same umbrella. Besides, there is the LIFE programme that will take part of the current H2020 Energy-Efficiency topics focused on the non-technological barriers, and the CEF programme for deployment is also included in the multi-financial framework 2021-2027. We foresee that the successful proposals will be those dealing with removing the market barriers and the delivery of innovative business models.