The Government has published its response to its consultation on 'smart charging' in relation to Electric Vehicle Charging Points (EVCPs). The consultation in 2019 invited responses in relation to the Government's proposals to maximise the use of 'smart charging' technology as the UK scales up its adoption of Electric Vehicles (and the move away from traditional petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles).
By way of brief summary, 'smart charging' is designed to create a data connection between the driver and the EVCP and the Grid, so as to ensure that power is distributed around the Grid in an intelligent and efficient manner. The example of a 'non-smart' (or 'dumb') charging system is one that simply allows the EVCP to charge vehicles (with the same functionality as that available to a standard mobile phone charger plugged into a 3-pin plug).
Additional functionality for smart chargers is being rolled out constantly, but currently includes features such as:
- the ability to programme preferred charging times to avoid charging during existing peaks in energy consumption. This allows the Grid to balance power demands during peak times but also allows customers to charge their vehicles overnight during cheaper tariff periods (and where a greater proportion of sustainably sourced energy may be available in the Grid);
- the ability to monitor consumption levels, which will be of use for vehicle fleet and haulage companies whose drivers will often be charging remotely, as well as for domestic users, who may find themselves sharing an EVCP with a neighbour (and therefore want to ensure that they each pay their fair share);
- integration with 'smart home' devices such as Amazon Alexa to control charging with voice commands;
- the potential to roll out 'vehicle-to-grid' power balancing in the future (where residual energy in car batteries is fed back into the Grid to balance energy supplies during peak times - and is replenished before the car needs to be used again).
Since smart chargers are connected to the Cloud, additional software can be installed remotely, allowing them to adapt and upgrade to correspond to emerging trends and technologies in the supply and use of electric vehicles.
In light of the above, the Government is keen to ensure the nation's stock of EVCPs is 'future-proofed' and also makes the best use of the supply of electricity available in the Grid (particularly given that the current capacity in the Grid is expected to struggle to keep up with demand as the rollout of EVs continues to gather pace).
The outcomes of the Government's response to the consultation include the following:
- The Government will present secondary legislation in autumn 2021 via the Automated and Electric Vehicle Act 2018 to mandate that private EVCPs sold in Great Britain must be 'smart' and meet minimum device-level requirements, which include a requirement that EVCPs are not designed so as to prevent compatibility with all energy suppliers;
- The Government will continue with a phased approach to smart charging legislation and aim to consult on proposals for phase 2 legislation in 2022;
- The Government will take forward further work to explore whether private EVCP location and energy data should be shared with specified parties.
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Without smart charging, EV charging is likely to happen during existing electricity system peak times (such as between 5pm and 7pm) when many people arrive home from work.