top of page
  • Writer's pictureNATALIA SOUSA

FCA present the world’s largest Vehicle-to-Grid pilot system.

More electric vehicles are gaining market share, it is estimated that more than 30% of vehicles will be electric by 2025, and more than half of all vehicles by 2030. In Europe alone, electric vehicles are expected to increase by 7 to 25%, and sales of electric vehicles are set to go from 2.5 million to nearly 12 million by the end of 2025.

The surge in consumer demand for full-electric and plug in hybrid vehicles will lead to a surge in energy consumption, peaks of energy demand will be concentrated at specific times of the day. E-mobility must be promoted in collaboration with those who produce and distribute electricity. FCA and other OEMs believe, it will be crucial to analyse which electricity is produced, with a great focus on renewables, and how to distribute that energy and balance demand and supply on the grid in real time.

FCA through an agreement with Engie EPS and Terna, launched a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot project in Turin, Italy. The V2G aims to test potential connections of the company’s vehicles to the grid. The Dross project at FCA’s Mirafiori complex once completed will be the world’s largest pilot project of its kind that have been announced to date.

V2G is an innovative technology based on bidirectional load management, which transforms electric vehicles into large, “mobile batteries” that interact intelligently with the grid.

In practical terms, vehicles draw energy for recharging during periods of lower consumption and give energy back to the grid when demand is high, thereby helping to balance supply and demand and to avoid blackouts. In other words, they provide “grid-flexibility” services in order to increase stability and safety.

The technology will, of course, be developed so as to avoid any inconvenience for users, who will simply need to connect their vehicle to the charging station and input the time at which they want to be back on the road and the distance to be traveled or the percent charge to be achieved, and the system will take care of the rest automatically.

And that’s not all. When the final system has been perfected so as to enable individual vehicles to participate in this market, the flexible services provided by electric vehicles will also result in cost savings. As a result, the V2G system will not only improve grid performance, but will also create value for drivers, who will be able to optimize the total cost of ownership of their cars.

From testing to full-scale operation

Creation of the system at the Mirafiori Drosso logistics center will transform the electric New 500s sitting on the lot waiting to be sold from a pure cost into an opportunity for cost savings, with this same sort of savings being available, in the not-so-distant future, to car-rental companies and all who manage fleets of electric vehicles. A great many vehicles are to be parked at the Drosso logistics center, an area of 3,000 square meters (about three-quarters of an acre), making this an excellent opportunity to provide grid services as well as the ideal context in which to maximize the potential of V2G made possible by its two key factors, i.e. the availability of vehicles and the low level of degradation of their batteries, given that the vehicles will be parked on the lot on rotation and for short periods of time.

As they await delivery to dealers, the electric New 500s will be connected to 50 kW, fast-charging, bidirectional charging stations. The centralized infrastructure and advanced control system, which allow for both rapid charging and V2G grid services, have both been designed, patented and produced by Engie EPS.

The first phase of system construction called for the installation of 32 V2G charging stations able to connect 64 vehicles. For the second phase, which will lead to full-scale operation once testing has been completed, up to 700 vehicles will be able to be connected to the infrastructure. This expansion work is to take place in 2021 and is expected to be operational in 2022. In addition, for the covered area where the vehicles connected to the V2G system are to be parked, Engie Italy is to partner with FCA in the construction of this vast parking shelter, which will feature around 12,000 photovoltaic panels. The renewable energy produced by these panels will go back into the national power grid, thereby reducing CO2 production by more than 2,100 tons per year. As a result, the project will make a significant contribution to efforts of industrial decarbonization.

In order to enhance the stability of Italy’s power grid while increasing the penetration of renewable energy, FCA and Engie EPS have been awarded 25 MW of capacity in order to provide the innovative, ultra-rapid frequency regulation service (Fast Reserve) to Italy’s electricity system operator (ESO), Terna. These 25 MW ae to be provided during the period 2023-2027 by way of the Mirafiori V2G system. More specifically, the power is to be provided by some 700 batteries, largely on board the New Fiat 500s parked on the lot, as well as by “second-life” batteries taken from the vehicles themselves, which are to be reused by the system rather than being thrown away.

This project represents the first large-scale, industrial application of V2G supplemented by second-life batteries removed from electric vehicles, making it a unique project within the circular economy that will maximize the utility of batteries throughout their useful lives.

In its final configuration, thanks in part to the power generated by other services, such as the photovoltaic panels, the Mirafiori V2G center will become a virtual power plant in its own right, able to optimize the use of electricity equivalent to the power consumed by over 8,000 homes while providing a wide range of services to the ESO.

“This is a sort of testbed for the experimentation and development of solutions to create value on the energy markets,” explained Roberto Di Stefano, FCA’s head of Network Development and e-Mobility for the EMEA Region. “On average, vehicles go unused for 80-90% of the day. Throughout this period, if connected to the grid, vehicle-to-grid technology enables users to take advantage of incentivized energy rates in exchange for the balancing service they provide, and all without compromising their need for mobility. This is a great outcome and one that unites the mobility and energy industries. This project also falls within the broader context of the technology partnership in place since 2016 between Engie EPS and FCA in e-mobility, which has the primary, practical objective of reducing total cost of ownership of FCA’s electric vehicles by way of specific offerings for our customers.”

In this regard, the two companies have just announced that they will be joining forces in a joint venture to provide a full range of services and solutions throughout Europe, such as charging infrastructures and green-energy packages designed to provide everyone with fast, easy access to electric mobility. The new venture is to be an Italian-based technology firm created by the two industry leaders, who will integrate their know-how in order to make their vision a reality. In this way, e-mobility will become the key enabler of a rapid transition towards electrification.

It is estimated that total storage capacity in electric vehicles in Europe will surpass 300 GWh by 2025 and will, therefore, represent the largest, distributed resource available to Europe’s electricity system.

V2G technology is one of the greatest incentives in the spread of truly sustainable electric mobility and is the pillar of a rapid energy transition, as a valid, effective, beneficial and environmentally sustainable solution that will reduce CO2 emissions.

bottom of page