UK Government sets out plan to make smart EV charging ‘the norm’ by 2025
UPDATED: The UK Government has unveiled a new Electric Vehicle (EV) Smart Charging Plan, stating an ambition for smart charging to become the most popular method of long-duration vehicle charging at homes and workplaces within two years.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published the plan following extensive work with the Department for Transport (DfT) and energy regulator Ofgem. BEIS originally intended to publish the plan in full on Tuesday (17 January) but there was a slight delay.
Building on a new mandate for EV charging point sellers that came into force last summer, requiring all units sold for private use to have smart functionality, the Plan sets out new measures to scale smart charging and improve the consumer experience in the coming years. There is a focus on charging at work and home through to 2025 and on public charging thereafter.
With the UK’s EV stock growing faster than expected, its growth is outpacing the installation of charging infrastructure. The Government last year published a flagship EV Infrastructure strategy, outlining a total of £1.6bn of funding for public charging points to be spent through to 2035. As time goes on, charger technology will improve, and smart charging technologies enable users to automatically charge at times when electricity demands and costs are lower.
The Government is touting smart charging as a money-saving option for EV drivers and claims that motorists who clock up significant mileage each year could save up to £1,000 annually. One Government-backed trial in 2022 revealed average savings of £600. It has also stated that, because smart charging en-masse can take pressure off the electricity grid by unlocking flexibility, it could reduce electricity system costs, thus resulting in savings for all.
But the Plan states that, in order to scale smart charging, policymakers must introduce measures to improve consumer standards and protections; accelerate the uptick of smart chargers in the private and public sectors and stimulate innovation. Policymakers will also need to keep assessing how smart charging works with other parts of the energy system as innovations improve.
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.”
The Plan confirms that BEIS and Ofgem will publish, this year, new policy proposals for ensuring that smart charging delivers lower electricity prices. It will work with stakeholders like energy companies and charging point installers and operators on scaling the adoption time-of-use tariffs, and energy companies will soon need to ensure they provide information about their smart charging tariffs in a consistent format so energy buyers can compare offerings.
To further cut costs, the Government will work with industry to potentially test low-cost energy products and services, as it has already done in trials.
Also this year, BEIS and Ofgem will publish new smart charging information for customers. The Plan acknowledes that the Energy Savings Trust and other bodies provide information already, but sets into motion plans to improve advice and close any gaps by 2024. Providing communications and consumer protections to motorists is a key focus of the plan.
In tandem with the launch of the EV Smart Charging Plan, the Government is announcing £16m of grant innovation funding for flexible energy projects, to be drawn from the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio.
Some of this funding, £614,000, is being allocated to projects in the Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X space). V2X technologies enable energy stored in EV batteries to be shared elsewhere – for example, back to the grid. BEIS has stated that it wants to address barriers to the wide-scale deployment of V2X technologies over the next two years.
A project in the North East of England, led by Otaski Energy Solutions, is taking a £229,000 share for its work to develop a lamppost with a vehicle-to-grid charging point. This could be a game-changer for residents who do not have off-street parking or those wishing to charge up while visiting loved ones.
Meanwhile, in London, Agile Charging’s BEVScanV2X project is receiving £165,000 of grant funding. The project is seeking to develop technologies that could monitor battery degradation and provide automated smart advice on approaches to maximise battery life, with a focus on batteries used in V2X.
Finally, £220,000 is being allocated to the V2X-Flex project in Surrey. The project, led by EV Dot Energy, is developing a business model that could make bi-directional chargers more accessible to homeowners and tenants by reducing the upfront cost. It is also developing prototype software for the chargers.