The UK’s energy crisis has highlighted just how much, a lack of forward planning by the UK Government, can cost each household in increased energy costs. The Government must recognise its short-sightedness in underinvesting in nuclear power and develop a long-term electricity strategy that includes EV cars which are the biggest batteries ever to be plugged into our homes.
For many years increasing Nuclear Power production was a politically “no go”, because of the publics' misguided fear of nuclear meltdowns and the ability of the industry to safely dispose of nuclear waste.
Of course, Nuclear power comes with some risks, but it's zero carbon emissions are much preferable to Gas power stations, which pump huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, further accelerating Global warming.
If you're balancing threats as all Governments should, the recently announced investment in nuclear power should have come decades ago. The UK’s Nuclear network is ageing badly, with production falling from 25% of total electricity production in 1990 to a meagre 15% currently. The Government plans to boost this back to 25%, but this is a long-term project that will take until 2050 to implement.
The EV revolution is accelerating fast with the Tesla Model 3 becoming the UK’s top-selling car in June 2021 and 100’s new models coming onto the market, from a wide range of manufacturers.
If the Government does not act now to force the introduction of “Smart Charging” technologies, “Unmanaged” charging demands from this influx of EVs, will overwhelm the capacity of the national grid.
The Government has started the process of creating a “Smart” home charging network, by introducing legislation in June 2022, that requires all home chargers to support “time-based” charging, which will allow EV owners to take advantage of low off-peak charging rates.
However, the Government has then completely failed to make sure such tariffs are available!!
A £150 billion intervention has been made by the Government to cap electricity costs at 34p per KW hour, in doing so they have taken control of electricity tariffs. They now urgently need to review this cap, to introduce dual tariffs, where the peak rate may be 40p per KW but an off-peak rate of 10p per KW hour, to incentivise EV owners to only charge their new EVs overnight.
This is just a sticking plaster to control electricity demand and ignores the real opportunity that EVs could provide, which is where the EV is used as a storage unit, that is charged at low rates overnight and used to power the house during peak periods of demand.
The average EV has a range of 240 miles, but the average daily commute is less than 45 miles. Hence, an EV can be fully charged between 12 pm – 6 am at the off-peak rates, driven to work and plugged back in at 6 pm just as electricity demand peaks, with 80% of its capacity left to power the home, during this expensive peak period.
Simple maths shows that doing this price “arbitrage” could cut household electricity bills by up to 75%, as well as provide low-cost motoring.
The technology to deliver this vision already exists, with new EVs such as the “Ford 150 Lightening” pickup capable of bi-directional charging and capable of fully powering a home for 3 days. However, these cars tend to carry a further price premium, when EVs are already 25% more expensive than their petrol equivalents.
I think the Government when it considers what it does in 2025 when the currently low 2% BIK on all EVs is due to end, should keep this ultra-low tariff for bi-direction EVs and put other EVs up to the 7-13% level it currently charges for Hybrids. This combined with the highly attractive Salary Sacrifice Scheme would discount EVs to affordable levels via business leases and encourage manufacturers to produce these vehicles in mass.
More urgently, the Government needs to introduce substantial subsidies to bring the cost of bi-directional home charges down from an eye-watering £3,750, to the £700 average cost of a standard one-way EV charger. It’s important that our rapidly expanding home charging network does not have to be ripped out in 4-5 years’ time when most EV models will support bi-directional charging.
Homeowners should also be encouraged to install solar panels on their houses again, by storing this energy in old EV batteries housed in the garage or using it to charge their EVs themselves if parked at home during the day. This is another simple way of reducing energy costs and creating more clean energy.
In the longer term, if power companies can create a network of millions of EVs plugged into a bi-directional network that they control, it would create a power source equivalent to several new nuclear power stations and may provide a faster route to balancing our power needs.
The future of transportation is clearly EVs as the Government has already legislated all new cars will be EVs by 2030, but the Government must also make them a key plank in their plans to keep UK households' energy bills low.
This may sound a far-fetched prediction but look back 30 years to when the internet emerged and roll forward to today to see how fundamentally it has changed all our lives.
The UK is just at the start of the EV revolution, but it’s one of the clearest routes for bringing Global warming under control and saving our planet. So, whatever you think about EVs it’s now time for you to do your bit and make the switch.