Smart electric car charging vital for mass adoption of EVs

A new study has claimed that smart electric charging holds the key to integrating millions of EVs to the current energy grid

BMW 530e 2017 charging

Electric cars will need to be capable of ‘smart’ recharging if the UK wants to avoid costly upgrades to the power network in the next two decades, new research has found. 

According to analysis by Aurora Energy Research, the next two years could see electric cars reach cost parity with conventional diesel and petrol cars. By 2035, Aurora estimates there could be 10 million electric cars on Britain’s roads, representing 30 per cent of the overall vehicle fleet.

• Best electric cars on sale

This rise in EVs would increase power demand by 19TWh per year, a six per cent increase from the current power usage. However, the study warns that peak demand in the evenings, when owners typically recharge their cars, could go up significantly as a result. Charging all 10 million cars during peak hours “would require an additional 3GWs of additional generation capacity at peak times, as well as requiring potentially costly reinforcements," according to the study.  

Future EVs capable of ‘smart’ recharging, where they recharge their batteries during off-peak hours or where energy companies take over the charging times for EVs, could reduce the impact EVs have on the grid. 

Richard Howard, head of research at Aurora Energy Research said: "There are many scare stories out there suggesting our power system cannot cope with the growth in electric vehicles. On the contrary, our research suggests that provided EV charging is smart, the GB power system can easily accommodate 15 million+ electric cars. In fact, the flexibility of EV charging could be beneficial for overall grid operation, and improve the economics of renewable power.”

EV charging in the UK; prices, networks, charger types and top tips 

The research comes after the National Grid previously warned EV owners that they may not be able to charge their car via a rapid charger at home when using other utilities, such as boiling the kettle. 

The grid operator said that using a fast charger, which can be installed at home to reduce charging times, is likely to trip a house’s main fuse if used simultaneously with other ‘high demand’ items such as kettles, ovens and immersion heaters.

The average household has a main fuse of 60 to 80 amps and an above-average sized 11kW EV charger requires 48 amps, so adding a small number of 13A appliances risks exceeding the limit, according to the company.

In a report on the challenges of increasing the uptake of electric cars in the UK, National Grid said household electricity capability is a ‘pinch point’ for motorists who want to charge their electric car fully at home. It added that compromises may need to be made between the speed of home charging and the capacity of household electricity supplies.

Electric car growth to ramp-up pressure on energy providers

But Erik Fairbairn, founder of charging company Pod Point, told the Financial Times that a 32A 7kW charger would be powerful enough for most home charging needs because EV drivers rarely drain their battery fully during daily use. He added that only five per cent of UK homes would be able to accommodate a charger more powerful than 7kW.

National Grid estimates that a 7kW unit would charge a long-range EV such as the Jaguar i-Pace from 25 to 100 per cent in 10 hours, and a smaller 3.5kW unit would take 19 hours. Government grants of up to £500 are available for motorists to install fast electric car charging units at home.

Could you live with an electric car? Here are the pros and cons of life with an EV...

Recommended

Four million people in the UK have fallen asleep while driving
Tired driver
News

Four million people in the UK have fallen asleep while driving

Research produces worrying revelation that four million UK motorists have nodded off behind the wheel at some point
16 Jun 2021
Thatcham approved devices and crash tests explained
Joe Finnerty in Hyper G sled
Consumer news

Thatcham approved devices and crash tests explained

Thatcham studies crashes, rates alarms and sets insurance groups to help cut drivers’ costs. We find out how
11 May 2021
Company car tax guide 2021/2022: everything you need to know
Executive saloons make popular company cars
Consumer news

Company car tax guide 2021/2022: everything you need to know

Company car tax is bound up in a complex net of emissions, salaries and a car's value; we explain how the system looks for the 2021/22 Financial Year
27 Apr 2021
No new smart motorways to open without stopped vehicle detection
smart motorway
News

No new smart motorways to open without stopped vehicle detection

Implementation of SVD technology to be accelerated, with existing smart motorways getting the system six months earlier than planned
21 Apr 2021

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Illegal car modification hotspots revealed
Volkswagen Polo exhaust
News

Illegal car modification hotspots revealed

Gloucestershire has the highest proportion of illegal car modifications, with altered number plates the most common breach
14 Jun 2021
New Vauxhall Astra prototype review
Vauxhall Astra prototype - front
Vauxhall Astra

New Vauxhall Astra prototype review

A new Vauxhall Astra is on the way and we've driven a prototype ahead of its official arrival
14 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'
Gearknob
Opinion

‘Our switch to electric will soon make driving manual cars a lost art'

Want to drive a manual car? You need to take your test in a manual car. So what happens once all driving-school cars are automatic EVs?
8 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
New Renault Arkana 2021 review
Renault Arkana - front
Renault Arkana

New Renault Arkana 2021 review

Does an eye-catching coupe-SUV body give the new Renault Arkana the edge over other mid-size SUVs? We find out...
16 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland
Nissan Qashqai - front static
News

New Nissan Qashqai production begins in Sunderland

Nissan will offer every school child in the North East of England a place on the Nissan Skills Foundation course to mark 35 years of manufacturing in …
14 Jun 2021
New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power
SsangYong Korando EV
Electric cars

New SsangYong Korando e-Motion breaks cover with electric power

The new SsangYong Korando compact electric SUV will be on sale later in 2021, says the financially stricken South Korean manufacturer
15 Jun 2021
'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'
Toyota Mirai opinion
Opinion

'The hydrogen underdog disruptor is back in town'

Mike Rutherford says hydrogen-powered cars could still be a frequent sight on UK roads
13 Jun 2021
New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling
Porsche 911 GT3 Touring - front
Porsche 911

New Porsche 911 GT3 Touring tones down the styling

The optional Touring package aims to bring a few creature comforts to the track-focused Porsche 911 GT3
15 Jun 2021
SsangYong J100 to get tough in the electric SUV sector
SsangYong J100 electric SUV
SsangYong

SsangYong J100 to get tough in the electric SUV sector

The tough looking electric mid-size SUV is slated for production next year and will be joined by a pick-up model
15 Jun 2021
New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender

New hydrogen-powered Land Rover Defender prototype in development

The Land Rover Defender FCEV prototype will be assessed for off-road and long-range zero-emission motoring
14 Jun 2021