Advertisement

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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

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.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

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.”

Advertisement - Article continues below

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

Advertisement
Advertisement

Recommended

Six-month MoT extension ends on Saturday
Consumer news

Six-month MoT extension ends on Saturday

Department for Transport ends MoT extension on Saturday 1 August; cars due an MoT before that date still get extra six months
29 Jul 2020
Number of road deaths remain virtually unchanged since 2012
Accident boards to stop rubbernecking
News

Number of road deaths remain virtually unchanged since 2012

The latest provisional figures suggest road deaths have remained virtually unchanged for years, prompting criticism from motoring groups
20 Jul 2020
New smart motorways see rise in serious collisions
smart motorway
News

New smart motorways see rise in serious collisions

Highways England report on eight newly upgraded smart motorways shows half saw an increase in serious collisions in their first year
14 Jul 2020
Deaths on UK’s major road network reach eight-year high
Car crash, insurance, write-off, accident
Consumer news

Deaths on UK’s major road network reach eight-year high

Official figures reveal an increase in fatalities on Strategic Road Network, with collisions costing over £1 billion in a year
7 Jul 2020

Most Popular

New Ferrari Roma 2020 review
Ferrari Roma

New Ferrari Roma 2020 review

The new Ferrari Roma GT is the iconic Italian brand’s latest offering – and it’s a big improvement
4 Aug 2020
MPs to consider graduated driving licences
News

MPs to consider graduated driving licences

Transport Committee to hold evidence session looking at how graduated licencing could mitigate the risk novice drivers face on the road
3 Aug 2020
Mitsubishi's UK exit: full details and what it means for owners
News

Mitsubishi's UK exit: full details and what it means for owners

Mitsubishi is leaving the UK and Europe. We look at the warranty, servicing and dealership issues facing existing owners of the brand's cars.
31 Jul 2020