Energy firms seek power to cut off electric car charging

Energy firms seek power to pause electric car charging during peak demand

Cutting power would be a last resort only and National Grid will be able to cope, say experts

ENERGY watchdog Ofgem is considering allowing electricity providers to cut power to electric vehicle (EV) chargers during periods of high demand.

Although it is being pitched only as a “last resort” by the Distribution Connection and Use of System Agreement, a contract between energy providers, the report states that the UK’s electricity grid was not designed to accommodate the demand posed by high-consumption devices like electric car chargers.

Those who see power to their electric cars paused during these high-demand times will not be entitled to compensation, according to AutoExpress. 

In order to implement the system a new, third-generation smart meter would need to be installed in homes. Other high-consumption devices like electric central heating would also be affected, according to reports.

This is despite the National Grid’s policy director for decarbonisation, Graham Cooper, previously stating that the increasing uptake of EVs would not propose a significant issue for the electricity grid. He said: “Even if the impossible happened and we all switched to EVs overnight, we think demand would only increase by around 10%.”

He did say, however, that there was a possibility of charging being paused during the evening consumption peak, when electricity is most expensive.

Ofgem said: “The process to consider this proposal is ongoing, and a decision is not expected before spring 2021. ‘We will take the final decision on whether this proposal is approved, taking into account our statutory duties to protect current and future consumers.”

In recent years, providers have begun offering tariffs that are aimed specifically at EV users and charge the car at times of night when energy is cheapest. The cost of charging an electric car from empty to full depends on the size of the battery. A Honda E, for example, which has a battery with a capacity of 35.5kWh, will cost just £4.97 to fill on a 14p tariff, whereas a Tesla Model X, which has a larger 100kWh battery designed for a longer range, will cost around £14.00. Podpoint estimates that charging a car with a mid-size 60kWh battery costs around £8.40 at present.

A third of the UK population does not have a driveway or garage, meaning that public charging infrastructure is the way to recharge an electric vehicle. However, research from earlier this year revealed that on-road charging is something of a postcode lottery, with the units available per plug-in car in South Wales being one per 1,488, compared to an average of one per 10 in London.

In 2018, the Department for Transport proposed that all new homes should come with the capability of electric car charging in order to encourage the take-up of zero-emission cars before the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars comes into effect in 2035 (or possible earlier, subject to consultation).

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