Vehicle-to-grid technology could help meet demand for electricity at peak times, with owners paid in money or free parking

Plug-in electric cars with connectors attached to charging stations in a company car park. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The UK plans to invest millions of pounds to explore how the batteries in thousands of electric cars could help the power grid and drive take-up of the cleaner vehicles.

British businesses will be able to bid for £20m of government funding for undertaking research and trials of vehicle-to-grid technology, which officials believe holds “enormous potential” benefits for drivers and the energy system.

The announcement comes on the heels of a week of good news for electric car manufacturers and battery-makers.
Volvo said it was turning its back on cars powered solely by an internal combustion engine, France declared it would ban sales of diesel and petrol cars by 2040 and Tesla revealed plans to build the world’s largest battery storage plant in South Australia.

There are now more than 90,000 electric or plug-in hybrid cars on UK roads, which currently only draw electricity from the grid when owners recharge them overnight at home or for half an hour at rapid charging stations in towns, cities and motorway service stations.

But with vehicle-to-grid, their batteries could also provide services to local power networks and National Grid – returning electricity to the grid at times of peak demand, or filling the gap if the output from windfarms or solar panels were suddenly less than expected.

Read more: The Guardian