03 August 2018

August Energy Briefing: futureproofing smart business for better

Connected Energy's rundown of the latest UK energy news for August.

Massive news over the last month has been the detail within the Government's Road to Zero Strategy document.

The Financial Times writes that literally hundreds of thousands of electric vehicle (EV) charging points are coming. All new homes must feature charging points, and all new lamp posts, too.

The Guardian said Chris Grayling will unveil proposals aimed at making it easier to recharge EVs than refuel those running on petrol or diesel, in an attempt to increase the take-up of ultra-low emission vehicles. A study for the RAC Foundation found growth in electric car use could be stalled by limitations in the public charging network.

The mass market appeal of ultra-low emission vehicles may be restricted without widespread, reliable and easy to use charging points, the report said.

The Strategy is to be welcomed, but has its detractors. Some sector insiders argue lamp post charging points which aren't linked into individual parking bays could cause havoc, with lengthy charging cables covering UK streets and potentially causing health and safety risks.

Also, there is no standardisation built in. Every London Borough is presently pursuing an individual approach, but without standardisation it's hard for infrastructure and investment to come at scale.

The Connected Energy view is that the Strategy is hugely welcome. Now, we need to dot the i's with real details on how we can get EV infrastructure out there in time, and to the required scale. Our role is to provide a part of the solution – and we’re making positive progress at doing just that.

Smart charging woes

In more news that illustrates a major hiking up of the UK's EV sector, The Guardian wrote at the close of July that British electric car drivers face having to pay more to power their car if they refuse to shift their charging to off peak times, in a move designed to lessen their burden on the electricity network.

There are currently 160,000 plug in cars on UK roads but rapid growth means their impact on the energy system must be managed carefully, said energy regulator Ofgem.

If enough drivers top up their cars when they get home from work it would put extra pressure on power networks, which already face a peak in demand between 4pm and 6pm.

Ofgem’s solution is to encourage car owners to use smart charging, where a vehicle could be plugged in at 5pm but would only start powering up at midnight, when electricity demand is much lower.

National Grid recently revised upwards its projections for the take up of electric vehicles and said it expects 11m electric vehicles by 2030, 2m more than it thought only a year ago. By 2040 it expects 36m electric vehicles.

The company has also stressed the need for cars to be charged smartly, which it believes could limit the increase in peak electricity demand to 8GW, or about two and a half times the capacity of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

And finally...

A former BP executive has been hired to lead Britain’s research into batteries and energy storage, write both The Times and the FT.

Neil Morris has been appointed chief executive of the Faraday Institution, which was set up last year with £78 million of Government funding and a mission to make Britain a world leader in battery technology.

It's another major notifier of the shift in UK policy. A former fossil fuels master is now leading the drive to cleaner UK energy and vehicles. Truly our world is rapidly changing for the better.