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Engie and Fiat Chrysler start work on V2G pilot

Steve Rogerson
June 2, 2020

French energy and mobility company Engie EPS is working with car maker Fiat Chrysler on a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot project.
Since the announcement with Italian transmission system operator Terna in September of the intention to experiment jointly with interactions between electric cars and the power grid, based on a smart charging infrastructure, Fiat Chrysler has selected Engie as the technology partner for the project, to build that infrastructure.
Work has begun at the Fiat Chrysler plant in Mirafiori, Turin, on the first phase of the V2G pilot project. Once completed, it will be the largest plant of its kind in the world.
The initiative is aimed at two-way interaction between full electric vehicles and the power grid. In addition to recharging the cars, the project will use their batteries to provide grid stabilisation services. The vehicle batteries can store energy and, using the V2G infrastructure, return it to the grid when needed. This represents an opportunity to optimise the operating costs of the cars – for the benefit of motorists – and a possibility of contributing to a more sustainable electricity system.
The need for balancing resources in the power grid is expected to increase considerably in the future: on the one hand to support the development of renewable sources, where energy production is by default nonprogrammable; on the other hand, to manage the deployment of electric vehicles, which – given that they require power to be recharged – could further destabilise the system.
In the near future, the deployment of infrastructure for intelligent battery management, for example the system under development at Mirafiori, will therefore be a key element in balancing real-time energy demand and production.
V2G technology therefore represents one of the strongest incentives for the spread of sustainable electric mobility and a pillar of a rapid energy transition in terms of accessibility to all – resulting in lower CO2 emissions – and in terms of sustainability from the point of view of the electricity infrastructure, where safety and reliability would in turn be increased.
"The project is acting as our laboratory to experiment on and develop an offering to add value in the energy markets,” said Roberto Di Stefano, head of EMEA e-mobility at Fiat Chrysler. “On average, cars remain unused for 80 to 90 per cent of the day. During this long period, if connected to the grid by vehicle-to-grid technology, customers can therefore receive money or free energy in exchange for the balancing service offered, without compromising their mobility needs in any way. In addition, this project forms part of a broader context of the technology partnership that has stood between Engie EPS and Fiat Chrysler since 2016. The main, tangible objective of this partnership is to reduce the cost of Fiat Chrysler electric vehicle lifecycles, via specific offers exclusive to our customers.”
The construction site for phase one of the project is now open at the Drosso logistics centre, within the Mirafiori complex. The works cover an area of approximately 3,000m2 with 450m of trenches already excavated, ready to host over 10km of the cables required to interconnect the electricity grid with 64 two-way fast charging points, with an output of up to 50kW. The centralised infrastructure and control system – providing V2G network services in addition to fast charging of electric vehicles – was designed, patented and constructed by Engie EPS.
Phase one of the project will see the installation of 32 V2G columns capable of connecting 64 electric vehicles and is scheduled for completion in July. By the end of 2021, the infrastructure will be extended to interconnect up to 700 electric vehicles, capable of providing fast grid services to the transmission network operator, as well as recharging the vehicles themselves.
In its final configuration, the project will be capable of supplying up to 25MW of regulatory capacity, making it the largest V2G facility ever built in the world. In addition, by aggregating with other Fiat Chrysler assets at Mirafiori – including 5MW of solar panel capacity – this V2G infrastructure will become a virtual power plant. It will have the capability to provide a high level of resource optimisation to the equivalent of 8500 homes and services to the network operator, including fast frequency regulation.
“During this period of forced immobility in Italy, we are continuing to build the country's future in partnership with Fiat Chrysler, by developing the technology required for the electricity grid to support the deployment of electric cars,” said Carlalberto Guglielminotti, CEO of Engie EPS. “At the same time, the project will also help to stabilise the network. Estimates have it that by 2025, the total storage capacity of electric vehicles in Europe will be over 300GWh, representing the largest distributed resource available to the European energy system. The market for V2G infrastructure, to date consisting almost exclusively of experimental projects, is now ready to get off the ground. The Drosso project at Mirafiori is a world first.”
Engie EPS is the industrial arm of the Engie Group, developing energy technologies aimed at renewable energy sources and electric mobility. It has its headquarters in Paris, with research, development and production in Italy.