Smart charging harnesses the potential of energy use data and the latest energy innovations to deliver significant benefits for consumers, including allowing motorists to charge electric vehicles when electricity is cheaper or cleaner, allowing consumers to power their home using electricity stored in their electric vehicle, or even sell it back to the grid for profit. It is expected high mileage motorists could save up to £1,000 a year through smarter charging.
The government has also announced £16 million funding from the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) for technologies that harness the potential of smart charging, including a smart street lamppost which will enable motorists to access smart charging on the move, and projects that will enable domestic appliances, from heat pumps to electric vehicle charge points and batteries, to integrate into a smarter energy system.
“We want to make smart charging an easier choice for drivers of electric vehicles, whether that is charging on the driveway, at the workplace, or parked on the street” said UK Energy and Climate Minister Graham Stuart. “To do that we need to build new network infrastructure at pace, using the latest available technologies.
The announcements build on the steps already taken by the government to enable smart and flexible electric vehicle charging. As of July 2022, all new charge points sold for private now must have smart functionality and the UK is consulting on a new policy and technical framework to unlock the benefits of domestic smart, flexible energy, and enhance its cybersecurity.
Through the plan, the government will improve publicly available information and evidence on smart charging, support the implementation of robust consumer service standards and ensure private charge points are secure and compatible with the latest energy innovations.
The roll out of intelligent and automated smart charging will deliver a win-win situation for all consumers. Reduced electricity system costs will lower prices for everyone, motorists will pay less for charging their electric vehicle, and the electricity powering electric vehicles will be cleaner and greener.
The government and Ofgem will seek to remove the barriers that currently prevent the full development of a diverse and competitive smart charging market, while making sure the energy system is ready to respond to the upturn in energy demand that electric vehicles will bring.
Depending on tariff, mileage, and charging patterns, smarter charging could save an average driver up to £200, and a high mileage driver up to £1000 a year by delaying the power demand from electric vehicles at peak periods, such as 4pm to 9pm on winter evenings. By helping to efficiently balance when energy is generated and used on the electricity grid, the technology could contribute to reducing electricity prices for consumers across the network.
“Smart charging is the key to achieving smart cities, and a crucial next step to hitting net-zero goals” said Michael Colijn, CEO of Heliox Energy. “It’s encouraging to see the government recognising the strain on the national grid, and using it as an opportunity to offer practical solutions. By innovating energy flows from the national grid we can expect efficient energy storage that is closer in proximity to users, fostering smarter cities and a net-zero future. The Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Action Plan not only bolsters the nation's energy infrastructure, but will unlock the ability of EV’s to act as a source of energy. We’ve seen a glimpse of this through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology - where EV drivers can charge their vehicles during optimal times of the day - but this nationwide plan can take smart charging to a new level by equalising the volatile energy prices motorists see today.”
The government believes the plan is a great starting point for widespread smart energy usage. For the plan to uplift the automotive industry as a whole, it’s key the government remains committed to the e-transition of all vehicles. With research showing that more than half of fleet managers demand more accessible public charging and in an affordable manner, smart charging options must be available for all vehicle types beyond personal cars. By doing so, businesses who are looking to make the e-transition can be confident in their switch as the nation’s leaders will be adding businesses' net-zero goals to the top of their agenda.”
Delivering the steps set out in the Action Plan will help make smart charging the norm at home and work by 2025. It is the ambition that in the late 2020s smart charging will also become more commonplace at long-duration public charging, such as on-street or at transport hubs.
The V2X Innovation Programme and IDSR Programme are part of the overarching Flexibility Innovation Programme, which seeks to enable large-scale electricity system flexibility through smart, flexible, secure, and accessible technologies and markets through funding of up to £65 million. The programme sits within the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP).
Over £3.2 million will be provided to projects through Phase 1 of the £12.6 million V2X Innovation Programme to develop prototype hardware, software and business models that harness smart charging technology.
Over £12.8 million will be provided to projects to develop and test smart energy solutions that can deliver demand side response (DSR) for consumers, decreasing or increasing energy consumption depending on price, availability or emissions. By giving consumers greater control over their energy use, projects funded through the Interoperable Demand-Side Response (IDSR) Programme will allow them to change their consumption patterns to match times of cheap and abundant low carbon electricity.
The IDSR programme consists of 3 streams of work, to support the innovation, design, and demonstration of interoperable demand side response (DSR) systems. Smart meters, technologies, tariffs and services will enable consumers to change their consumption patterns to match times of cheap and abundant low carbon electricity, give consumers greater control over their energy use and save money by helping to balance the energy system.
In 2018, the government established the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce to bring together policy makers, industry and academia to ensure that the energy system is ready for and able to exploit the mass take up of EVs.
Government has also announced it is looking at how to make data from all public charge points openly available so that consumers can easily find charge points suitable for their needs.
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