Vehicle to Grid: turning cars into batteries


Turning e-cars into mobile batteries to increase the stability of the grid, making it more efficient and ensuring important benefits to the community, energy managers and customers: this was the goal that drove Enel X, Nissan and RSE (Energy System Research) to launch Italy’s first experiment in developing Vehicle to Grid (V2G), the bidirectional technology that allows e-vehicles to store and then return energy to the grid to stabilise the latter. Enel launched the technology commercially in Denmark back in 2016 and it has also been tested in various European countries.

The project was presented in Milan on 24 May by Alberto Piglia, Head of e-Mobility at Enel X, the Enel Group Business Line that focuses on developing innovative products and digital solutions. The experiment will take place in the test centre at the Milan premises of RSE, a public electricity and energy sector research company, and will involve two Nissan LEAF e-cars and two Enel X V2G charging stations. The charging stations have been connected to the RSE experimental microgrid using a special control platform and this will allow the two Nissan LEAFs to be used to stabilise the grid, by increasing or reducing power flows as required.  

Electric vehicles are now playing an important role in the transition from fossil fuels to renewables. Vehicle to Grid is another leap forward still as it turns cars from a simple means of transport into energy vectors capable of exchanging power with the grid. The goal of the Enel X, Nissan and RSE-backed project is to test the V2G functionalities on the basis of the habits of private users and users of company fleets. In fact, the project is a first in Europe also in terms of the scope and comprehensiveness of the functionalities being tested.

When they are charging, the batteries will be used as grid-connected energy storage systems and will ensure benefits both to the electricity system and the car owners. By turning all the users into potential energy suppliers, V2G technology will help make the grid more stable and efficient, maximising self-consumption of renewable energy and optimising flows of energy produced and consumed on a local level. In exchange, electric car owners will be remunerated for the services they provide to the electricity system – benefits will be both environmental and economic. These advantages could well also contribute to boosting the uptake of electric vehicles in our country.  

An increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road and the use of technologies such as V2G and Smart Charging will also give Italy an electricity storage capacity that will allow it to integrate renewable sources with unpredictable and intermittent output levels, such as solar or wind power, increasingly efficiently and at a low cost.

A vision focused on an increasingly green, electric and sustainable type of mobility that, thanks to the launch of the Milan project, now has a new string to its bow.