Electric car charging could cost more at peak times, says regulator

Ofgem says 60 per cent more electric cars could be charged up if owners plug in during off-peak periods

Owners of electric cars (EVs) could be incentivised with cheaper electricity rates or penalised with more expensive ones depending on when they charge their cars, according to the industry regulator.

Ofgem says EV owners should be offered clearly signposted cheaper rates if they charge their cars during off-peak periods. But consumers plugging in their cars during times of high demand could face more expensive energy bills. Customers could also be charged less for electricity during sunny or windy periods, when more renewable energy is generated from solar farms and wind turbines.

These are the best electric cars

Previous research from Ofgem has found that if 40 per cent of current car owners switched to an EV, almost a third all ‘low-voltage networks’ (which carry power from transformers to customers) would have to be upgraded. But if ‘flexible’ charging was used, over 60 per cent more EVs could be charged up before network “reinforcement” is required, ultimately saving money for bill payers.

One model of flexible charging would see smart meters indicate off-peak or low-cost times to consumers, who could then charge their cars more cheaply. Automated charging could also make optimal use of the network, with EV chargers turning on of their own accord during periods of low network demand.

But Ofgem warns that EV owners who plug in their cars during peak times could be charged more, as “under current arrangements they will impose considerable costs which will be borne by all consumers”. To discourage this, the regulator says “users who want to consume a lot more at peak times” may “need to pay the associated additional network charges.”

Around 11 million UK households already have ‘time of use’ tariffs, which make use of smart electricity meters to inform energy suppliers when electricity is being drawn, allowing charges to be raised or lowered based on network demand.

What would ‘flexible charging’ involve?

By making “price signals” more obvious to EV owners, calculating usage regularly with a “half hourly settlement”, deploying smart meters and enacting “time of use” energy tariffs, the relatively high demand that EV charging places on the network could be minimised. These savings could then be passed onto consumers, as less infrastructure investment would be required.

Ofgem’s report also considers vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging, where EVs store excess electricity from the grid during times of low demand and feed it in back when required. While V2G charging could provide “valuable grid services” and is currently being trialled by Nissan and OVO, Ofgem warns it requires “sophisticated infrastructure”.

More and more drivers are converting to electric cars. But would an EV meet your needs? Our guide lays out the pros and cons

Recommended

Tory no-show at ‘fair fuel prices’ debate sparked by 102k-signature petition
News

Tory no-show at ‘fair fuel prices’ debate sparked by 102k-signature petition

As the public calls for action, the treasury points to ‘savings’ from a 2010 fuel price escalator freeze
24 May 2022
Speeding to be recorded as a cause of many more car accidents
Police car on scene at accident
News

Speeding to be recorded as a cause of many more car accidents

New police guidance for reporting will see a big rise in speeding recorded as a cause of car crashes
17 May 2022
World’s car bosses fear supply chain crisis will slow electric car production
Production line
News

World’s car bosses fear supply chain crisis will slow electric car production

Leading industry figures warn of looming problems at Financial Times’ Car of the Future Summit.
13 May 2022
Privately owned e-scooters to be legalised for use on public roads
E-Scooters
Consumer news

Privately owned e-scooters to be legalised for use on public roads

Transport minister announces plans to create new vehicle category for e-scooters as part of upcoming Transport Bill
12 May 2022

Most Popular

Best motorhomes 2022: the top 5 picks for all budgets
Chausson motorhome
Tips & advice

Best motorhomes 2022: the top 5 picks for all budgets

In the market for a new motorhome? Here are our top-five recommendations...
18 May 2022
New all-electric Volkswagen Aero B saloon to rival Tesla Model 3
Volkswagen Aero B exclusive image - front
Volkswagen

New all-electric Volkswagen Aero B saloon to rival Tesla Model 3

The new four-door VW Aero B EV could come with up to 435 miles of range and our exclusive images preview how it could look
20 May 2022
New all-electric Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider shapes up
Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider - watermarked front
Alfa Romeo

New all-electric Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider shapes up

Alfa Romeo bosses have confirmed that a new two-seat electric roadster is in the company’s rejuvenation plans and our exclusive images preview how it …
19 May 2022