This year EV-elocity and Project SCENe had the opportunity to share a stand at Futurebuild, which is an event exhibiting the latest innovations, products and materials in the building sector. The visitors of our stand had the opportunity to learn more about generation of renewable energy using photovoltaic panels, storing energy using a community battery (… the largest community battery in Europe!), storing energy using electric vehicles (EVs), smart charging and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies and the strategies developed to optimise the energy distribution to the grid.
As part of the event, we conducted a seminar about the process of shaping a community energy for a more sustainable built environment. Charles Bradshaw-Smith from SmartKlub, Prof Mark Gillott and Dr Julie Waldron from the University of Nottingham conducted an interactive session to gather the audience’s perception regarding renewable energy at community level. Attendees were asked to vote on multiple-choice questions using an electronic voting system imagining they were the home-buyers of a project including a community energy scheme.
Here, we present some of the key findings from the public opinion:
- Participants think it is fair sharing the surplus generated by the renewables based on the profits of the Energy Service Company and the energy behaviour of the users.
- People think it is fair for the developer of a project including a community energy schemes not getting a direct reward, but not having to finance the renewable infrastructure while selling more attractive eco homes.
- People think it is reasonable to consider local non-residents of a community energy scheme to be allowed to make a green investment in the neighbourhood and so buy-in to the Energy Service Company.
- Participants think community involvement can only improve buy-in and performance.
- Most of the participants think the community should actively participate in the community energy ambitions, and be able to create new services such as Electric Vehicles and Demand Side Response.
- Most of the participants think the hassle of setting up the renewables infrastructure is only worth if it does not cost more than fossil fuels.
With these results, here are some transferable ideas to the electric automotive sector:
- The economics incentives generated by storing energy on EVs can be determined by different factors, for instance: a) the behaviour patterns of the user determine the most efficient way of charging and discharging the vehicles; b) the behaviour of the grid defines the best time for buying and selling energy to the system; and c) the storage of renewable energy should be incentivised (…which are intermittent sources!) in this way we’ll expand the storage capacity of the energy system.
- The technology development of energy storage needs to be competitive to be able to make the transition to a clean transport system. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the upfront costs of EVs will be more competitive on an unsubsidized basis from 2024, and by 2040, 55% of the new car sales and 33% of global fleet will be electric.
- The integration of EVs, V2G and Smart Charging to a community energy scheme could generate several benefits, such as: a) Expanding the energy storage capacity, as the EVs can connect to the community battery (charging and discharging), b) Diversifying the energy customers to sell the energy stored, as the EVs are mobile batteries potentially connected to the point offering best rates, c) Increasing the community awareness on clean transport, d) Attracting external funding on energy infrastructure to enhance the local services, and d) Generating new services, start-ups alternatives and revenues for the residents (e.g. charging points for local non-residents, share car schemes, electric car hire, others).
Finally, for the clean transport and electric vehicle sector, the costs of the infrastructure and finance model are also the biggest challenges – as it is for a community energy scheme -. Therefore, it would be possibly to think the hassle is worth if at least clean infrastructure does not cost more than fossil fuels and significantly reduces the carbon emissions.