Renault has launched a revolutionary pilot scheme that aims to prove the feasibility of vehicle-to-grid charging systems by placing energy storage units aboard electric vehicles (EVs).
A fleet of Zoes have been adapted to enable reversible charging, which could help to bolster electricity supply at peak times. Renault anticipates that the technology will be ready for installation on customer vehicles as early as next year.
The system enables electric vehicles to stockpile energy supplies at times of low demand and then transfer electricity back to the grid when appropriate. By moderating power usage in this way, it could reduce strain on national electricity infrastructure, promote energy conservation and save its users money on running costs.
The first trials begin today in the Dutch city of Utrecht, in partnership with We Drive Solar, and on the Portuguese island of Porto Santo, where the scheme is backed by energy supplier Empresa de Electricidade da Madeira.
Renault plans to introduce 15 adapted Zoes across Europe throughout 2019, with tests scheduled to take place in France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark.
According to the French car maker, the trials aim to “measure large-scale feasibility and potential gains”.
Gilles Normand, Renault's director of electric vehicles, said: “Vehicle-to-grid charging is a key pillar of the smart electric ecosystems that Groupe Renault has set up.
“We have chosen onboard technology that also optimises the cost of recharging stations and thus facilitates large-scale development.”
A vehicle-to-grid charging system being developed by Nissan is similar in principle but necessitates the installation of an energy storage unit in EV owners’ homes rather than in the vehicles.