Ovo, the UK electricity supplier, is to offer a ‘vehicle-to-grid’ service to buyers of the Nissan Leaf from next year, allowing electric car owners’ to drive for free by letting energy firms use their vehicle’s batteries.

Savings from the scheme will cover the £350-£400 annual cost of charging a Nissan Leaf, the electricity supplier told the Guardian.

The move. coming into operation in 2018, could mean greater take-up of the electric vehicles and help power grids manage the growth in green energy, according to its backers.Nissan Leaf EV

After installing a special charger in a customer’s home, the supplier will take over the management of the car’s battery, with owners able to set a minimum amount of charge they want for driving the next day.

Ovo will then automatically trade electricity from the battery, topping it up during off-peak periods when power costs about 4p per kilowatt hour (kWh), and selling it at peak times for about four times as much.

Ovo chief executive, Stephen Fitzpatrick, said, “Being able to feed back into the grid will mean that customers will be able to drive for free.”

In future, the flexibility provided by allowing power grid managers to draw on millions of electric cars would be “transformational”, he said, adding that as well as avoiding the need for costly grid upgrades, paid for through energy bills, it could reduce the number of new power stations that need to be built.

National Grid has warned that rapid growth in the EV sector would require a large increase in the UK’s power generation capacity, equivalent to two or more new nuclear power plants.

If the scheme is successful, the cars’ batteries could also help energy networks cope with the increasing but variable renewable energies on the system, by returning power to the grid at times of peak demand and smoothing out inconsistencies in energy supply. 

Learn more about Ovo’s project with Nissan