Reforms proposed to support EV revolution
10 August 2018
Author: Sean Keywood
Off-peak charging of electric vehicles is set to be incentivised. Sean Keywood reports.
Fleets running electric vehicles (EVs) could be encouraged to charge them at off-peak times as part of a package of proposals to help manage electricity demand.
Energy regulator Ofgem has produced a report outlining how the UK grid can best accommodate the predicted widespread adoption of EVs.
Ofgem says flexible charging - where EV drivers only charge outside peak demand times - would allow at least 60% more EVs to be charged from the existing grid compared with if they were only charged at peak times.
This could be achieved with smart chargers receiving information from the grid, so while a car might be plugged in for several hours it would only draw power when demand was low.
Ofgem proposes incentivising drivers not to top up their vehicles at peak times with cheaper prices - and conversely, charging a premium if they add to peak demand or local congestion.
Flexible charging could also help to keep energy costs down for all consumers as technology allows stored electricity from electric vehicle batteries to be sent back onto the grid when it is needed.
For fleets, Ofgem says smart charging can allow more vehicles to be charged from a single site, such as an office or depot, without the need to upgrade the network connection.
It says using this method, delivery firm UPS was able to upgrade the number of EVs operating from one of its sites from 65 to 170.
Ofgem also says fleets could adopt non-firm connection agreements, meaning they would only receive power at off-peak times.
It also says fleets should be encouraged to site new depots in locations that allow new grid connections.
Ofgem executive director for systems and networks Jonathan Brearley said, "Ofgem is working with the government to support the EV revolution in Britain, which can bring big benefits to consumers. Our reforms will help more users charge their EVs and save them money.
"The proposals we have announced will also harness the benefits of electric vehicles and other new technologies to help manage the energy system and keep costs down for all consumers.
"The way we generate, transport and use electricity - and power our cars - is undergoing a radical transformation. Ofgem will ensure the energy system is fit for this exciting, cleaner future and at the lowest cost for consumers."
Ofgem says the widespread adoption of flexible charging would reduce the need for expensive new power stations and extra grid capacity to be built.
It says its planned reforms would free up existing grid capacity to allow new generators, including businesses or other organisations that want to generate their own power on-site, to get connected to the grid more quickly.
The reforms would also make the electricity system more efficient by giving generators and other users more choice and flexibility on how they connect to the grid.
Ofgem says it intends to work with the energy industry to overhaul system rules and put its reforms in place between 2022 and 2023.
The Ofgem report follows the passing into law of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018, which mandates alongside other measures that new charge points must be capable of smart charging.
The act also gives the government new powers to ensure motorway services are upgraded with a sufficient amount of charge points, and allows mayors to request installations at large fuel retailers in their areas.
It also mandates public charge points being compatible with all EVs, along with standardising how they are paid for and setting out standards for reliability.
Roads Minister Jesse Norman said, "The UK is becoming a world leader in the roll-out of low-emission transport. Today we have passed a significant milestone in that journey.
"This act will ensure the UK's infrastructure system is ready for the biggest transport revolution in a century."