The UK’s Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have announced their much anticipated Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Action Plan, intended to make smart charging the norm by 2025. Through boosting the smart charging network to allow for charging to take place at times when electricity is cheaper, it hopes to minimise the incredible strain on the grid.
To support this, 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, and through enabling domestic appliances 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 energy and climate minister, Graham Stuart. “To do that we need to build new network infrastructure at pace, using the latest available technologies. This plan sets out how we will work with Ofgem and industry to kickstart the market for smart charging, which we are backing up with £16 million in innovation funding. This will let people take control of their energy usage, in the most convenient and low-cost way.”
Through the plan, the government said that it is aiming to 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 is something which the government hopes 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.
However, there are many challenges still to overcome, according to Daniel Auger, IEEE senior member and reader in electrification, automation and control at Cranfield University.
“A few years ago, people became very optimistic about the possibilities of electric vehicles (EV),” said Augur. “As with every hype cycle, there was a lot of enthusiasm and ambition at the start, however, now, people have a better understanding of what is actually possible and how quickly the technology can indeed mature – there is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes. Whilst the industry welcomes the government’s new plans, there are many things to take into consideration.
“As it stands, we do have the right technology for energy storage – in fact the range of technologies we can use is broader than that. However, one of the biggest challenges facing the EV market is distribution and scaling up production. As this plan suggests, charging stations need to be spread evenly throughout our cities; consumers should be able to charge conveniently, and more importantly, they need access to a fast charge. We also need to understand how to re-use, recycle and dispose of used batteries safely and efficiently. Lithium-ion batteries may prove helpful given their high technology readiness level. However, this will take time and will naturally require further investment if this new approach is to work.”