Selling electricity back to the grid

In the future, electric cars will be able to sell electricity back to the grid, making them even more cost efficient for owners

Over the coming years, electric cars won’t just draw electricity from the grid to recharge their batteries, they’ll also be able sell energy back to the grid during peak hours.

This is known as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, and is at the heart of sustainable mobility. Vehicle-to-grid technology will help owners save even more money when they purchase an electric car and will help the grid during peak hours.

What is vehicle-to-grid charging?

In time, the energy stored in your electric car’s battery can be fed back to the grid, otherwise known as the national electricity network. This is to help supply homes with power during peak demand – often the evening and early morning hours.

It will be made possible by new vehicle and charging technology. Currently, vehicle chargers and batteries operate under a one-way system where the charger draws power from the grid to the battery.

In the future, the battery will be able to discharge electricity back to the charger which in return supplies it back to the grid. Owners would be compensated for the energy they supply during peak hours, and could take advantage of lower energy tariffs during off-peak hours to charge their car.

Effectively the difference between the tariffs they earn when supplying energy to the grid and the tariffs they face when drawing energy from the grid is profit.

Nissan and energy supplier OVO has already launched the world’s first  bi-directional car charger. Limited to a trial of 1,000 units for now, its 6kW charger is able to both charge and discharge the vehicle from and to the electrical grid. OVO says commercial devices will be available to purchase soon.

Likewise the Government has committed £30 million in funding to 21 different vehicle-to-grid projects to further improve the technology.

Can I sell electricity back to the grid now?

While electric vehicle owners for now cannot sell energy back to the grid from their vehicle, they can do so if they have installed solar panels, wind-turbines or other self-generating means. And this isn’t limited to electric vehicle owners, as anyone who has done so can supply energy back to the grid when not being used by the household.

Since April 2010, the UK has had what is known as the feed-in tariff (FIT) which is a set of rates that owners of wind, solar and other energy generating forms can sell back to the grid. These have periodically changed since April 2010, decreasing in the amount per kWh of energy generated each year. This is due to the rise in the uptake of solar panels, wind turbines and other generators.

The current solar power rates range from 3.93pence per kWh to 1.79pence per kWh, depending on the number of panels installed. These are due for renewal in October 2018.

To sell energy back to the grid, you can contact your current energy supplier or choose a provider from the Government’s list of FIT installers.