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17 December 2020

Smart charging solutions a real opportunity for the entire electrical system

Eric MEVELLEC, CEO at DREEV

The IMET initiative spoke with DREEV CEO Eric Mevellec about the company's V2G project and the challenges for technological implementation of and regulations for this new concept. 

 

What is Dreev V2G project about?

We have been developing V2G solutions for 2 years now, and our ambition is to pave the road for the development of this new market, to take a lead in it and to create an ecosystem at a European level. We do believe in partnerships and cooperation all along the value chain. This is why we have launched Dreev - a joint venture between EDF and Nuvve- to capitalize on what was already ready on both sides. And this is also why we are building strong commercial and industrial relations with the ecosystem, especially with OEM such as car manufacturers and charging station manufacturers. I think the “V2G entreprise” we have launched this summer via Izivia, the French EDF charging point operator, in a close collaboration with ABB for the charging station and with NISSAN is a good example of what we can achieve when cooperating. 

What motivated you to launch this project?

EVs are coming in Europe. This is a game changer and we can think about it in terms of threats and opportunities. When looking at the French situation, we might expect 15 millions of EVs by 2035, and then we might ask ourselves about the ability of our electric system to properly integrate these large volumes. Our internal analyses, that are fully consistent with the ones of the French TSO, lead us to 3 learnings:

The first one is that we shall not be concerned when looking at the energy that will be required - a EV’s annual consumption is quite similar to a 200 litres electric water heater; the second one is that we might face some issues regarding the power demand, but that we can handle it and avoid peak demand with quite “simple“ solutions such as tariff driven behaviour; the last conclusion is that EVs are not a threat for the electrical system but a real opportunity for the entire electrical system and especially when we consider system oriented smart charging solutions that include V1G/V2G dimensions. Indeed, in respect  to all the constrains linked with the EV charging process (especially ensuring drivers’ mobility needs is fundamental), and to the proper business model, we have the opportunity to use the batteries of the EVs to support the electrical system for several purposes, such as balancing services, decarbonation services, sourcing optimisation, among others.

"EVs are not a threat for the electrical system but a real opportunity for the entire electrical system and especially when we consider system oriented smart charging solutions that include V1G/V2G dimensions"

We described above the situation in France; we need to look at the specificities of each country to design a relevant solution. To achieve that, we have to face different challenges.

From a technology point of view, we have to think the bidirectional solution as a whole. The solution relies on an EV, on a charging station, on V2G services (software), and a market access including the local regulation. Is it not that easy and as soon as we look at it with bidirectional capabilities, the EV and the associated charging station become an element of the grid. We need to manage both the requirements of the energy world and the requirements of the electrical mobility world!

The regulation is a challenge, too. V2G has many strengths. When you consider a VPP made of thousands of EVs, you have many advantages because it is spread around the territories and, as it is by design decentralized, it is resilient both from a technical and from a cybersecurity points of view. However, the different rules and regulations are not well adapted yet. We are not done yet, but TSO and DSO are supportive. In France, RTE believe V2G can be a key solution for the coming years, as mentioned in the electromobility report they published in 2019.

Last but not the least, the business model is a challenge for 3 reasons nested in each other:
i)    The technology is not fully mature and the cost of it is still too high, and only a few OEM have enabled the bidirectional features.
ii)  The technology is a “collaborative” technology that requires cooperation between several stakeholders, including the customer who is the asset owner, so that the business model is interesting for all parties
iii)  The standard EV customer journey doesn’t have much place for these innovative services yet, and here again the collaboration between the parties is essential to promote the V2G solution

"The technology is a “collaborative” technology that requires cooperation between several stakeholders, including the customer who is the asset owner, so that the business model is interesting for all parties"

How did you contribute to accelerate energy transition? 

After a year of trials in France and UK, we have bundled a complete solution in cooperation with Nissan, ABB and Izivia. We have been promoting this solution since summer, and we have the support from the Occitanie region that is subsiding V2G charging stations and their installation (up to 100 units). With a 11kW V2G charging station, we will reach 1MW and our intent is to be part in the primary reserve in 2021. This first mini VPP will be the first one and the most efficient from a CO2 point of view to participate in this market. On top of that, we are working on several projects in which the optimization we are providing will be C02 reduction driven. We recently proposed to the new EU Innovation Fund a large scale V2G project (EVVE project) in order to scale up V2G deployment, bring the costs down with all the European ecosystems and prove this technology will enable a cost-efficient decarbonation.  

What are your lessons learned? 

We are still a very young company, so there are still many lessons to be learned. At this stage, the most important lesson is probably that the customers we are facing are looking for concrete energy transition solutions, and this is why I believe in the market -even if it is still not very mature. 

Furthermore, EVs are booming in Europe, and basics need to be ensured. There are already a lot of challenges related to the EV industry for all the stakeholders, for the customers, and we need to find space and partners that can manage both the very short terms and the midterms.

Another lesson learned is that it will take years to generalize the technology and that - here again - we need to manage the short term, make proofs, provide results, try and learn... and still to have a clear roadmap. We believe in a step by step approach that will federate the entire ecosystem. This is also why we are particularly involved in the standardization, and that we have chosen since day 1 to use standard protocol and open architecture. 

"(...)it will take years to generalize the technology and (...) we need to manage the short term, make proofs, provide results, try and learn... and still to have a clear roadmap."

What are your recommendations to policy makers?

Public authorities should support investments required to make the market emerge in the coming years.
For V2G to work, car manufacturers need to invest in their vehicles in order to reduce the costs of bi-directionality. If the V2G is integrated intelligently, it will cost next to nothing and free up massive amounts of storage space at low cost. 

At the EU level, authorities should support the launch of ambitious innovative pilot lines of V2X equipment in order to consolidate technical standards (notably ISO 115-118 and regulatory framework for grid and market access) and promote initiatives of major projects gathering all the ecosystems (car manufacturers, automotive suppliers, recharging terminal manufacturers, flexibility operators, …). At national and EU levels, authorities should create dedicated financial supportive schemes (including public grants) for smart-chargers  based on interoperable and open communication process to help private and public fleets operators and households to equip and car manufacturers to invest; pushing the volume up in the short-term will drive further cost reductions expected in the mid-term.

Public authorities should also provide more supportive regulatory framework to enable forthcoming massification of the market.
At EU level, authorities should provide a legislative framework to ensure non-discriminatory and easy access to relevant vehicle data (including key battery dynamical parameters such as the state of charge, and the global state of heath of the battery) required to operate smart-charging services.  At national levels, authorities should provide easier grid connection and market access to technical procedures in order to reveal the smart-charging/V2X economic value, which is firstly required to remove double taxation and improve cost-reflectiveness of network tariffs.  

At EU level, the building renovation wave should also prepare the ground, develop the right incentives and ease the deployment of common charging infrastructure providing smart-charging capabilities, especially in collective residential buildings.