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How can the energy industry drive the EV revolution?

All sales of new diesel and petrol cars will cease in 2040, according to the Government’s current targets. But with calls from MPs and think tanks to bring this deadline forward, how could the energy industry help to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles (EVs)?

Adoption of EVs is rising, with more than 47,000 electric cars taking to the road in 2017. It’s essential for EV adoption to continue to grow rapidly, as the Committee on Climate Change recently warned MPs that three-fifths of new cars must be electric by 2030 if the UK is going to meet its climate goals. And while Government policies and incentives will have a significant role to play in whether we meet these goals, the energy industry must also act to ensure that consumers choose EVs.

Key players within the energy industry can achieve this by working alongside the Government to…

Upgrade our energy infrastructure

As EVs become more prevalent, we will need to update the network so that there’s enough capacity for EVs to be charged as efficiently as possible.

‘Range anxiety’ is a key concern for consumers, with the fear that EVs can’t travel a sufficient distance on a single charge deterring many from investing in an EV. EV manufacturers are tackling this by working to increase the range of their vehicles – Tesla claim that their Roadster EV has a range of over 300 miles, for example – but the network needs to increase the number of public charging points available for EVs in order to alleviate range anxiety.

In April 2018, the number of charging points in the UK stood at 15,000 (up from 11,000 in February 2017), but they need to become more widespread so that owners feel secure that they’re never far from a charging point.

Take a smarter approach

As more EVs take to the road, there will be a significant increase in demand on the grid. There’s a risk of EV ‘clustering’, for example, if there’s a high concentration of EVs in a particular neighbourhood that are all plugged in at the same time, local capacity could be overloaded.

As a result, one of the key challenges for the energy industry is ensuring that EVs don’t put too much strain on the grid. Currently, research shows that many EV owners plug their car in when they get home from work, which increases demand on the grid during peak times. Aurora Energy Research found that if 10 million EVs were charged in this way, they would require 3GWs of additional generation capacity at peak times.

One of the ways that we could overcome this challenge is through smart charging – either automatically reducing the demand from EVs during peak periods or providing variable time-of-use tariffs to encourage EV owners to charge during periods of low demand. This could not only ensure that the grid remains balanced, but also enable EV owners to save around £170 per vehicle annually

Accelerate vehicle-to-grid technology

Another way that EVs could benefit both EV owners and the energy industry as a whole is through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. While the technology is still in development, soon plug-in cars will be able to sell the electricity stored in their batteries back to their grid or store their excess charge in household batteries.

Essentially, this gives every EV owner the opportunity to become an independent energy supplier to the grid, as their cars will automatically store power when it’s cheap and they can sell this power back to the grid at a higher price during peak periods. It will also deliver extra flexibility to balance the grid itself – it’s estimated that if the 19,000 Nissan LEAFs registered in the UK used V2G chargers, they could provide over 114MW of storage capacity to the grid, which is enough to power up to 300,000 homes.

Power up your organisation

There’s great potential for EVs to deliver business benefits, and as V2G technologies become more mainstream there will be even more opportunities for businesses to increase their revenue by investing in EVs. If EVs aren’t already part of your energy strategy, you should be thinking about how you can incorporate them to boost your organisation’s bottom line.

Getting involved in the EV market could give your business a competitive advantage. If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of electric vehicles for your business, get in touch with one of our energy experts today. Call us on 08451 46 36 26 or email