Power management company Eaton is helping to build a microgrid pilot project trialling vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications in Switzerland.
The project comprises EV charging stations on the Y-PARC industrial and commercial site in Yverdon-les-Bains, a municipality in the Canton of Vaud.
It will explore several modes of controlling power flows and pricing in order to demonstrate the potential that V2G technology has to relieve pressure on the Swiss grid at times of high demand, and help the integration of more renewable energy sources.
Eaton, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, will provide the charging stations, starting with 25 of which five will be bidirectional with long-term plans to increase the total number of charging stations to 250 and install a solar PV array.
The connected EV batteries will be aggregated into a single energy storage unit to support the grid. The algorithms controlling the microgrid will manage the flow of energy between the EVs, the photovoltaics and the nearby buildings to dispatch available energy to where it is needed, when it is needed, and make excess energy and energy storage capacity available to the grid if required.
A press release said that the Swiss regulatory framework is unique in Europe in that it allows the privatisation of parts of the electricity network into microgrids within which flexible electricity pricing is authorised.
“Developing mechanisms to synchronise the electrification of end-markets with the decarbonisation of power generation is a challenge for grid operators everywhere. As the number of EVs increases, it is easy to see how large volumes of parked EVs can provide the flexibility needed, hence the importance of this type of project,” said François Randin, project manager for Eaton.
If the project eventually reaches 250 aggregated bi-directional charging stations, that would be one of the largest V2G projects in Europe. One launched in Italy, south of Switzerland, two years ago combined 700 EVs. That project won the right to provide 25MW of grid services shortly after.
V2G technology holds massive potential considering the number and combined size of EV batteries operational today, but complex regulatory, logistic and financial modelling challenges remain. One of the leading players, US-listed Nuvve, still only has around 10MW of combined EV batteries under management as per its recent quarterly results.