UK grid can cope with increased EV use with smart charging

UK grid can cope with increased EV use with smart charging


Ofgem has laid out proposals to support the mass-market uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK, with a smarter, more flexible usage of the National Grid able to keep costs down for users and energy companies.

Reforms proposed include incentives for customers to charge their EVs at the right time, freeing up existing grid capacity, and making it easier for new generators – such as businesses or organisations – to connect to the grid.

The independent electricity and gas regulatory authority expects that flexible charging would allow for an increase in the EV market of at least 60% without the need for significant infrastructure upgrades, such as new power stations. That’s compared to ‘inflexible’ charging, where EVs are only charged at peak times.

With the energy system making increased use of new technologies – such as smart meters, home energy storage, and energy management systems – the efficiency of the National Grid is improving all the time. As such, similar continued improvement will reduce the need for extra capacity to be built.

With flexible charging enabling drivers to top-up their car off-peak – when demand is low, and so to are energy prices – the UK’s electric vehicle infrastructure is able to deal with a significant increase in uptake with few changes.

Key to Ofgem’s proposals is the wide-spread use of smart chargers and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) systems, which sees EVs solve a problem they potentially cause. With EVs able to feed energy back into the home or grid during peak demand, the vehicles help balance out energy use.

The National Grid has repeatedly said that there is plenty of capacity for increased uptake in EVs, but that vehicle charging during peak demand would see that capacity strained. During much of the day, the National Grid runs nowhere near full capacity, and it is these times where increased EV charging would have little to no impact on day-to-day energy use.

Jonathan Brearley, executive director, systems and networks, Ofgem, said: “Ofgem is working with the government to support the electric vehicle revolution in Britain which can bring big benefits to consumers. Our reforms will help more users charge their electric vehicles and save them money.

“The proposals we have announced today (Monday 23rd July) 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 in Great Britain. Ofgem will ensure that the energy system is fit for this exciting, cleaner future and at the lowest cost for consumers.”

The proposals are open to consultation, and further details of Ofgem’s plans can be found via its website. The consultation closes on 18th September 2018. Equally, Ofgem’s fifth Future Insights Series, looking at the implications of transition to EVs, can be found here. Zap-Map and sister site Next Green Car have provided data to Ofgem as part of its analysis.

Find EV charge point locations on Zap-Map.

Image courtesy of MyEnergi.