Charging EVs and the energy network

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Charging EVs and the energy network

With the uptake of electric vehicles increasing and only expected to increase further, thoughts have been cast to how the UK’s energy network will deal with the influx of charging.

Thinktank has announced that they believe six electric cars charging at the same, in close proximity to each other, is enough to cause a local electricity grid overload in some areas. Calls have been made to improve the UK’s energy networks, and while this is true, the motions are already in place for an increase in the amount of EV owners.

What is the energy network?

The energy network is the system that brings energy to homes and businesses across the UK. Energy suppliers buy the energy at wholesale price and pass on charges to the end user that are affected by factors such as demand and supply.

Renewable energy

In the UK, our electricity is generated through a range of different sources so that there is a consistent supply. Renewable technologies (wind farms, solar PV, biomass) made up 25 per cent of electricity generated in the UK in 2015 and this number continues to grow each year.

The ultimate goal is for EVs to be charged by electricity that has come solely from renewable sources. With the UK likely to meet their EU target of generating 30 per cent of their electricity from renewables by 2020, this is gradually getting closer to reality.

Electric storage

It’s common for wind farms and solar to be generating too much power for the network to cope with. Improving storage counters this. National Grid, the operator of the UK’s electricity system, are keen and are investing in creating more storage for electricity.

Last year, National Grid paid £66milion for eight lithium battery iron projects, one of the single biggest storage deals. The new battery storage projects are to be built in the UK between now and March 2018. Once built, these will keep power supplies stable as more wind and solar farms are built.

More storage would make sure that the UK has sufficient power during times when renewables such as wind and solar are not fully functional due to weather conditions.

Smart-charging innovation

A spokesperson for the Energy Networks Association commented in March that investment in the electric network is needed and that “Electricity network operators are developing a number of innovative solutions to enable people to charge their vehicles while minimising the impact on the power network.”

One of these innovative solutions is smart chargers. Smart chargers can shift charging based on grid loads and deferred when cars are fully charged. The technology is being trialled in certain areas of the UK and Thinktank have said that all chargers from now should be smart.

As with most areas, when an industry grows, there is a knock on effect into others. The motor industry and the energy industry need to work together to find the best solution for the large uptake expected in years to come.

If you’ve yet to drive and experience the benefits of an electric vehicle, you can hire a range of fully electric vehicles from Green Motion. For more information about the range of electric vehicles available for hire at a branch close to you or a destination that you’re visiting, call 0116 243 7676 today.

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