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Government taskforce says EVs could benefit UK’s energy system
14 January, 2020
EV being charged

The Electric Vehicle (EV) Energy Taskforce, a government-backed organisation that brings together key players in the energy, infrastructure and transport sectors, says that the effectively managed integration of EVs with the energy system could significantly improve electricity network efficiency, increase system resilience and limit the requirement to build costly new infrastructure to meet growing electricity demand.

The infrastructure spending required to prepare the UK electricity networks for the EV transition is likely to run to tens of billions of pounds. However, the Taskforce believes this cost could be significantly reduced if the transition is effectively coordinated between government and key energy, infrastructure and transport industry stakeholders.

The Taskforce has published a report with 21 key proposals for action that needs to be taken by government and industry to enable an effective and efficient electric mobility transition.

These proposals include:

  • Ensuring that EV drivers, electricity consumers and the energy system benefit from the integration of EVs and the energy system;
  • Providing financial incentives to EV drivers to ensure that the potential energy storage capacity of millions of EVs is used to reduce peak demand;  
  • Prioritising greater standardisation across the charging network to ensure it works resiliently, efficiently and securely with the electricity system;
  • Establishing an independent body to promote the benefits of smart charging through a major publicity campaign to ensure EV drivers are confident and well informed;
  • Extending the principle of ‘open data’ in the energy system to include EV charge points and EVs to allow more effective smart charging of EVs;
  • Co-ordinating energy and transport planning to ensure we have the right infrastructure in the right place.

The EV Energy Taskforce, which is believed to be the most wide-ranging collaboration between the UK’s energy and transport/mobility industries, stated that “the transition to electric motoring is now well under way”, but that the pace must increase. Road transport accounts for 28% of the UK’s total energy consumption and 25% of carbon emissions.

Philip New, chief executive, Energy Systems Catapult and the EV Energy Taskforce Chair said: “Ensuring that the mass roll-out of EVs delivers benefits for both drivers and the wider energy system requires actions from industry, government and the regulator, including creating the new markets and policies that can unlock EVs’ huge potential.”

The Taskforce expects EVs to become ubiquitous on Britain’s roads, providing a significant challenge – and opportunity – for the UK’s electricity network.

Coordinating the introduction of a smart charging infrastructure will enable network operators to balance demand and supply through an electricity grid increasingly incorporating intermittent renewable energy sources. EV drivers willing to charge their vehicles during periods of low electricity demand or when surplus renewable energy is being generated will benefit from lower fuel costs in the transition ahead.

Minister for the Future of Transport, George Freeman, said: "We are 100% committed to decarbonising the UK’s road network. Our £1.5bn Road to Zero strategy is supporting a thriving EV market; last year in the UK a battery electric vehicle was sold every 15 minutes.

“Government commissioned the Taskforce to advise how we can best work with industry to make sure the energy system is ready for the transition to electric vehicles. This report provides important evidence to shape the next stage of our Road to Zero roadmap.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said: “The recent growth in electric vehicles shows there is buyer appetite for these new, exciting technologies. Vehicle manufacturers are investing heavily to bring more choice to the UK but to drive uptake to meaningful levels, this must be supported by a long-term commitment to financial incentives, as well as an appropriate and highly visible charging network. Drivers must feel confident that it is as easy to charge as it is to pull up at a forecourt and refuel.”

Fintan Slye, Director of National Grid ESO said: “Electric vehicles will play a key role in decarbonising the UK’s transport and electricity sectors. Smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology means we can use renewable energy more efficiently, charging when the sun shines or the wind blows and potentially discharging back to the grid at times of peak demand. 

“With an estimated 35 million electric vehicles on the roads by 2050 or sooner, we have a fantastic opportunity for the transport and electricity sectors to work together to deliver a low carbon transition that benefits all electricity consumers.”


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