The UK Government announced plans today to increase “Energy Independence” with an ambitious 10-year plan to develop more wind and nuclear power, allowing the country to be weaned off polluting fossil fuels, often sourced from politically unacceptable countries like Russia or Iran.
The key issue with electricity generation is that it is very difficult to turn it up or down to match demand, with capacity currently based on peak demand between 6 pm-10 pm at night.
The National Grid can be partially balanced by using excess electricity at night in hydroelectric projects where water is pumped uphill to higher reservoirs and then used to generate electricity in the day when it is allowed to flow downhill again. However, a large amount of excess night-time electricity is wasted and released as heat via substations.
The shift to electric cars (EVs) provides several opportunities to balance the National grid, as they are the largest batteries ever to be attached to domestic houses.
Dual Electricity Tariffs to encourage night-time charging.
EV owners need to be incentivised to charge their cars at night by replacing the current flat-rate electricity pricing of 22p per KWH with Dual Tariffs, offering low 6p night-time rates and more expensive 24p day rates. This 75% saving will massively incentivise EV drivers to charge their cars when the demand of the National Grid is lowest.
Although no solar power is generated at night, wind power is generally generated equally during day and night. It's therefore vital to ensure that this night-time clean energy is used effectively, and EV batteries are an obvious choice.
Electricity suppliers are beginning to roll out specialist EV tariffs as a way of getting EV owners to switch suppliers. Eco has teamed up with U-Switch to allow EV owners to see the best dual tariffs and to switch at the point they get an EV since this increases average home electricity prices by a minimum of 20% unless they move to dual tariffs.
The government has also recently legislated that moving forward all EV Chargers need to have a day of time controllability and the “eco app” already offers the ability for customers to set a timer controlling their charger to match their dual tariffs timings. This can be overridden with a “Charge Now” button for emergency top-ups, with the normal charging timing returning after 24 hours.
Vehicle to Home (V2H) and Vehicle to Grid (V2G) power.
Already the Nissan Leaf and all Audi EVs moving forward support “Bi-directional” charging, allowing your car to power your house and other manufacturers are set to follow. During the night most EVs can be fully charged ready for the commute the next day and will still have 75% of battery charge left when they are attached back to the house at 6 pm.
This charge can be used to power the house during the peak electricity usage period between 6-10 pm when households are charged 24p per KWH by the national grip, giving a 75% arbitrage saving as the car was charged overnight at 6p. This same process will then repeat as the car is charged too full overnight.
Why do you need to plan your move to an EV now!
The 46% increase in fuel prices at petrol pumps, is ramping the demand for Electric Vehicles (EVs) much faster than they can be supplied, causing relatively long order times. Add to this the rollout of highly tax-efficient “Salary Sacrifice Schemes” that allow employers to provide EVs as a company perk at a 42% discount compared to personal leases and you can see why industry experts believe that EV adoption is to happen faster than anybody expected.
The economics of moving to an EV is compelling with operating costs 66% cheaper than their I.C.E (Internal Combustion Engine) equivalents and this gap is set to increase as electricity “price inflation” is 50% lower than petrol pump, simply because only half of the electricity generation is based on fossil fuels and as the Government announced today this sustainable element is set to increase rapidly.
However, current demand for EVs is much higher than supply causing long wait times to get one and hence a need to plan for the move now if you want one before 2025. At this point research shows that 50% of all new cars manufactured will be EVs, which will mean prices come down in line with I.C.E cars and wait times equalise.
In the meantime, at eco Electric Car Organisation, we strongly recommend that consumers lease EVs via their employers to make the most of the Government's 42% tax breaks whilst they are here. Leasing your first EV for a 3–4-year period, also makes it much easier to upgrade to the latest and greatest EVs as the rapid evolution in battery range occurs. Most consumers know what each car manufacturer delivers in terms of quality versus price in the I.C.E world, however the move to EV throughs much of this out of the window as EVs may look the same as their petrol cousins but are radically different beasts. The skills required to create the best electric engines, batteries, and software to run EVs have little if no foundation in the old petrol manufacturing world, so don’t give brand credit for their history alone.
The Government is missing a massive trick by not considering how EVs can be used to balance energy usage and storage. As well as moving to more sustainable and locally sourced energy we also need to consider how best to store this energy in our new EV cars and use it to balance the National Grid.