Plan to boost smart electric vehicle charging could save drivers £1,000 a year

(Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
(Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

Electric vehicle users could save up to £1,000 a year while cutting emissions under a plan announced by the Government to seize the potential of smart charging.

The Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Action Plan involves boosting the network of units with smart charging capabilities, which encourage charging when electricity is cheaper or cleaner and minimise the impact of EVs on the grid by reducing demand peaks.

The latest energy innovations also allow motorists to power their home using electricity stored in their EV, or even sell it back to the grid for profit.

We want to make smart charging an easier choice for drivers of electric vehicles, whether that is charging on the driveway, at the workplace, or parked on the street

Energy minister Graham Stuart

The plan by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Ofgem sets out steps to make smart charging the norm at home and work by 2025, as well as the preferred method of long-duration public charging.

Some £16 million in funding will go towards technologies including a smart street lamppost capable of charging EVs and sharing power back to the grid, and projects that will enable domestic appliances such as EV charge points, heat pumps and batteries to integrate into a smarter energy system.

Energy and climate minister Graham Stuart said: “We want to make smart charging an easier choice for drivers of electric vehicles, whether that is charging on the driveway, at the workplace, or parked on the street.

“To do that we need to build new network infrastructure at pace, using the latest available technologies.

“Today’s plan sets out how we will work with Ofgem and industry to kickstart the market for smart charging, which we are backing it up with £16m in innovation funding.

“This will let people take control of their energy usage, in the most convenient and low-cost way.”

The Government aims to improve public information on smart charging and consumer service standards, and ensure that private charge points are secure and compatible with the newest energy innovations.

Smarter charging could save an average driver around £200 and a high-mileage motorist up to £1,000 a year by, for example, delaying a charge at peak periods until overnight when energy prices are at their lowest, according to BEIS.

The department said the technology could even help reduce electricity prices for all consumers by balancing energy usage.

Neil Kenward, Ofgem director for strategy and decarbonisation, said: “As energy regulator, we’re helping create the infrastructure to deliver Britain’s net-zero future at the lowest cost to customers.

“This latest innovative plan will help to maximise the benefits of smart charging, offer vital savings to consumers and reduce the overall cost of energy by seizing the opportunities to use batteries to both power homes and fuel the wider grid.”

Earlier in January, analysis by the RAC found that EV drivers are being charged more to top up their batteries on long journeys than people behind the wheel of petrol cars pay for fuel.

One in 10 say the hike in electricity costs is the main reason for being put off switching to an EV

Edmund King, AA

The RAC said the average price of using rapid chargers on a pay as you go basis has increased by nearly 26p per kilowatt hour (kWh) since May, reaching 70.3p per kWh this month, due to the soaring wholesale costs of gas and electricity.

Most electric car owners predominantly use slower chargers at home, which cost less than half the price of public rapid devices.

But those taking longer trips beyond the range of their car’s battery depend on rapid and ultra rapid public chargers to complete their journeys.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “More incentives are needed to help people switch electric vehicles so smart charging with the possibility of ‘cashback’ would be welcome. More than 70% of drivers have been so shocked by the surge in electricity prices that it has tainted their view of EVs.

“One in 10 say the hike in electricity costs is the main reason for being put off switching to an EV.”

Sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans in the UK will be banned from 2030.