SSE Enterprise-led consortium wins funding to power the smart electric buses of the future

An SSE Enterprise-led consortium has won a major funding award to research how electric buses can help support the power network by using two directional charging.

The ‘Bus2Grid’ project is being hailed as the first of its kind and will involve over 30 e-buses using smart technology to provide bi-directional charging that enables the e-bus batteries to interact with the energy system.

The UK Government has signalled its intent to consign diesel and petrol engines to the history books, but rolling out the required infrastructure to provide charging points for electric vehicles remains one of the biggest challenges facing the energy industry.

So this project will explore both the commercial value and social benefits to the energy and passenger transportation systems by developing services to National Grid, local DNOs, bus operators and transport authorities.

Sara de la Serna, Development Manager for SSE Enterprise, said the funding will help SSE to minimise the impact of charging the electric buses of the future on the Grid.

She said: “We and our partners within and beyond SSE are very excited by this funding award. It will help us pilot a scheme to use smart technology to make two way charging something that can be rolled out widely. We’re developing the technology with our partners BYD, a global leader in e-bus manufacturing. The UK Government has rightly set ambitious targets for the roll out of electric vehicles, including buses, and our challenge is to pioneer appropriate ways of charging them with smart technology.

“We need a charging infrastructure that operates ‘two way’ so that batteries can give back as well as take from the Grid in a manner that creates value for different energy market stakeholders and bus operators. Turning electricity into a transport fuel is not straightforward but this funding award helps us play our part in solving that challenge.”

This project will be delivered by a consortium led by SSE, with its knowledge of wholesale electricity markets, and delivering an aggregation capability (through SSE Wholesale) as well as leading on design advice and installation of charging infrastructure (through SSE Enterprise). It also comprises:

  • BYD: global leader in e-bus manufacturing, providing V2G enabled electric buses, charging infrastructure and charging management systems;
  • UKPN: providing DNO use cases and local network modelling intelligence; and
  • Leeds University: leading on business model design and barriers to market analysis.

The successful application was supported by SSE’s Partnership Funding team which has a proven record in securing government grants in competitive funding calls, such as this one.

SSE Enterprise has already installed over 500 charging points for electric cars across London, as well as a major charging facility at Waterloo station to allow electric buses to be charged overnight.

The competition is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and is delivered by Innovate UK.

Specifically the Bus2Grid , a Vehicle to Grid (V2G) project, will deploy electric buses which enables energy stored in an electric vehicle’s battery to help manage the electricity network.