Nottingham City Council’s electric vehicle fleet is growing quite nicely. At the moment, 51% of the council’s vehicles are powered by electricity, including six bin lorries, road sweepers, and vans. Electric bin lorries and road sweepers — how cool is that!
In an exciting development reported on My Nottingham News, a first of its kind vehicle-to-grid (V2G) demonstrator project in the UK has been launched at Nottingham City Council’s Eastcroft Depot to show how technology can be used to improve energy demands caused by changing fleets from traditional internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. The project incorporates 176 kWp of solar PV, 600 kWh of stationary energy storage made using second-life batteries that were repurposed from 24 used EV batteries, and 40 bi-directional electric vehicle charging units. The project was funded by Interreg North-West Europe (an EU-funded programme), with a contribution from Innovate UK (part of the UK Government’s Research and Innovation Agency).
My Nottingham News reports that the pilot aims to maximise the use of renewable energy that is generated locally by using the batteries and the 40 V2G vehicles for short-term storage of the electricity generated by the solar panels at the depot. The system will be monitored by a purpose-built energy management system and the bi-directional charging units can send power back to the buildings at the depot or to the grid during peak times, balancing the demand for electricity and reducing energy costs.
Cllr Sally Longford, Portfolio Holder for Energy, Environment and Waste Services, said: “We are racing towards becoming the first carbon neutral city in the UK by 2028. Switching our fleet to electric vehicles allows us to reduce our carbon emissions, but it brings challenges around our energy supply to charge these vehicles. The vehicle-to-grid pilot is allowing us to explore innovative ways to bring renewable technologies, energy storage and intelligent management systems together to test solutions which could be rolled out in other areas of the country.”
“Becoming a carbon neutral city needs a huge step change, and we will need to explore innovative technologies to help us reach our ambitious target. It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to find solutions to charging electric vehicles which are sustainable by using renewable energy and recycled batteries,” says Cllr Longford.
Wayne Bexton, Director of Environment and Sustainability, said: “The installation of the batteries concludes the infrastructure side of a remarkable project that enables energy from solar panels to be stored and sold back into the grid at the most lucrative times of day. As a demonstrator microgrid, it means we are less reliant on energy from the national grid to power our electric vehicles, helping us save money, save carbon and work towards carbon neutrality. I am extremely proud of the team working on this and thankful to our funders Interreg NW Europe and Innovate UK.”
City council operations are some of the perfect use cases of electric vehicles. Bin lorries and street sweepers have well known routes that are serviced at well-known intervals. Installation of charging infrastructure at City Council depots and scheduling charging sessions and overall EV ecosystem planning and management can therefore be easily incorporated around these operations. As their fleet grows (just as with any other large fleet operator), smart management of the entire ecosystem will unlock efficiencies as well as more energy and cost savings. I am really looking forward to seeing how this pilot in Nottingham progresses and I am also keen to see this kind of project being replicated in other places.
Images courtesy of Nottingham City Council
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