Posted: 22 March, 2017. By Matthew Trevaskis
I recently calculated that I’ve driven around 180,000 miles in Electric Vehicles over the past 18 years. This hasn’t always been easy to achieve and, in the early days, an EV certainly couldn’t have been my sole vehicle. It took planning and a little creativity to find power such as friendly caravan parks and boat yards when the yachts weren’t laid up for winter!
But we now have affordable EV models coming to market sporting batteries with a capacity exceeding 40 kWh, capable of real-world driving touching 200 miles, for the price of an average hatchback. This will be hugely important in ‘selling’ the cars and vans to the next wave of adopters, who aren’t necessarily your tech savvy or ‘dark green’ customer. EV drivers to date have either had a very modest daily requirement of their vehicle or an overarching desire to drive a zero-emission vehicle and have been prepared to put in a little extra effort to make that work. But to appeal to the masses the vehicles have to be at least on par with conventional models in terms of convenience and/or demonstrate a cost saving, either in running cost, taxation, or both.
The current demonising of diesel has brought sharp focus on the need for zero emission vehicles to clean up the air in our towns and cities, not just limited to London and the other major cities in the UK, but other topological hot spots around the country, some more rural than expected. The evolution of the EV presents some unique opportunities to decarbonise transport and improve air quality, but the more subtle point is that it can allow us to do this using renewables at a building, community and/or grid level. This will take innovation in terms of tariffs, incentives and consumer behaviour but the synergy between EVs and clean energy is undeniable.
The next generation
The new generation of long-range EVs offer vastly better driving range on the rare occasion that it’s needed and greater flexibility in the day-to-day usage. We are at a point now where we can realistically see drivers that don’t have the traditionally required driveway or garage at home for a charging point being able, instead, to charge at work or even just charge once a week, in less than an hour, and give sufficient range for another week’s motoring.
But where vehicles do have the ‘classic’ access to charging at home and/or at work, they yield additional value since vehicles spend, on average, 23 hours each day parked and will rarely need a full charge. This gives greater flexibility in when vehicles are charged and by how much, maximising the self-consumption of buildings-integrated renewables as well as renewable generation on the grid.
Developing Vehicle to Grid
The next stage will be the commercialisation of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) which will allow the vehicles to export energy at peak times, if only to reduce or eliminate the building importing grid energy. This may give access to cheaper tariffs or enable our vehicles to become income generators.
Matthew Trevaskis has been appointed Head of Electric Vehicles at the REA. A press release welcoming him to the team is available here.
Blog by Peter Dickson, Technical Director of Glennmont Partners The UK energy market is as diverse as it has ever been with new technologies and new market structures offering investors a wide range of opportunities for investment and for creating value...