An illustration of an EV vehicle charing from a house.

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Study to explore if electric vehicles can power homes and help meet the UK’s energy demands while plugged in

Loughborough University is part of a new collaborative project exploring if electric vehicles (EV) could be used to power drivers’ homes and help meet UK energy demands while on charge.

Dr Tracy Ross, of the School of Design and Creative Arts, is part of the ‘Vehicle to Energy Communities’ (VECTORS) project, funded by Innovate UK, that is exploring how energy from EV batteries could be pushed back to the power grid through ‘bi-directional’ charging.

The project will also explore if drivers could use this type of charging to store excess energy produced by solar panels on their home in their EV batteries.

This could lead to further energy being passed back to the grid and provide consumers with individual and community-based money-saving incentives.

Many research projects have focused on vehicle-to-grid (V2G) concepts, but the VECTORS project – led by British smart-tech company SMPnet – looks to expand the potential of bi-directional charging technologies through a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) approach, with a specific focus on the domestic setting.

V2X technology uses data communication, optimisation, and control technology to charge the EV battery when electricity demand is low, and release power back to the grid when the demand is high.

Innovative ideas such as this can only be successful in the market if they take into account end-user needs.

Dr Ross, an expert in people-centred design of transport service innovations, is leading the VECTORS research strand focused on consumer engagement and is speaking directly with homeowners to better understand their requirements.

She commented: “The vehicle-to-home concept that VECTORS is working on would make the most of electric vehicles by seeing them as ‘floating batteries’.

As it is such a new concept for people to understand, it is crucial to gain homeowners views at an early stage so that the final system is designed to meet their needs, eradicate any concerns, and ensure they get the best experience out of it.

“The wider societal benefits of balancing the grid and making more use of renewable sources won’t be achieved if uptake is low.”

Dr Ross added: “It is exciting to be involved in such future-looking concepts. End-users’ experiences are the driving force behind our research and our role is to understand these and translate them for the technical partners so that users are at the heart of system development.”

The year-long project ends in August 2023. The consortium partners are SMPnet (lead), EDF Energy R&D Centre, Loughborough University, Oxfordshire County Council, Urbanomy UK and dcbel.

Anastasios Rousis, SMPnet CEO, said: “Unlocking and expanding the flexibility potential of electric vehicles (EVs) using bi-directional charging solutions could offer significant possibilities for the role of EVs in the decarbonisation of the UK energy system.

“VECTORS is a highly innovative, collaborative research project bringing together world-class expertise across technology, market design, local government, EV manufacture and academic research.

“Given the exciting potential the project offers, we are delighted to be leading the research and look forward to delivering meaningful results as we proceed.”

The 'Vehicle TO Energy Communities’ (VECTORS) project, part of the V2X Innovation Programme, is funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and delivered by Innovate UK. V2X is part of the up to £65m Flexibility Innovation Programme, funded from the £1 billion DESNZ Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 23/25

About Loughborough University

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2022 QS World University Rankings – the sixth year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2023 and 11th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’.

In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

About SMPnet

SMPnet is a British technology start-up offering an advanced suite of smart solutions to support an efficient energy transition and flexible control of energy systems. SMPnet helps clients (energy service companies, utilities and local energy network providers) deliver effective, sustainable and profitable asset management essential to energy integration and development of future energy distribution. Using SMPnet’s patented Omega technology, clients can monitor, optimise and control multiple network assets, in real time and ensure secure and resilient operation.

About the VECTORS Project

The aims of the VECTORS project are to:

  • Unlock and expand the energy flexibility potential of Electric Vehicle (EV) bi-directional charging technologies and business models in the UK
  • Accelerate commercialisation of V2X technologies and services
  • Increase business and consumer interest in V2X
  • Bring together diverse stakeholders across the energy and transport sectors to overcome barriers to V2X deployment

The year-long project started on the 1st September 2022. The consortium partners are SMPnet (lead), EDF Energy R&D Centre, Loughborough University, Oxfordshire County Council, Urbanomy UK and dcbel.

About Department for Energy Security and Net Zero

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero is Leading economy-wide transformation by backing enterprise and long-term growth, generating cheaper, cleaner, homegrown energy, and unleashing the UK as a science superpower through innovation.   This funding has been made available from the Government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP), which looks to accelerate the commercialisation of low-carbon technologies and systems.