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This just in: Electric car owners will be able to get paid while they drive if they let an energy company use their vehicle's battery in a pioneering scheme to increase take-up of cleaner vehicles and assist power grids in managing the growth in green energy!

Nissan and Ovo (one of the UK's biggest challenger energy suppliers) will offer the "vehicle-to-grid" service from next year to buyers of the new Nissan Leaf.

This is how it will work: the customer will install a special charger in their home, and then the supplier will take over the management of the car's battery – owners will be able to set a minimum amount of charge they want for the next day's drive.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Ovo chief executive, says the savings would cover the £350-£400 annual cost of charging an electric car.

"Being able to feed back into the grid will mean that customers will be able to drive for free," said Fitzpatrick. 

Even though there are approximately 100,000 plug-in cars in the UK, the National Grid has warned that their rapid growth will require the equivalent of a few new nuclear power stations. 

However, the car batteries could also help energy networks cope with the increasing but variable wind and solar power on the system by giving power back to the grid at times of peak demand and smoothing out inconsistencies in the supply energy.

The vehicle-to-grid technology was previously confined to private pilots, but the government recently launched a £20 million fund for research into the technology, which will now be open to consumers.

Fitzpatrick predicts that while the technology will initially have a "relatively modest" impact of the take-up of electric vehicles and easing pressure on the grid, it is "the thin end of a very important wedge."

He added that, in the future, the flexibility provided by allowing power grid managers to draw on millions of electric cars would be "transformational." In addition to avoiding the need for expensive grid upgrades (paid for through energy bills), Fitzpatrick believes it could also reduce the number of new power stations that need to be built. 


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