EV Energy Taskforce says electric vehicle revolution can be boon for UK energy system   

Published: 14 January 2020

The Government-backed Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce (EVET) has found that bringing together key players in the energy, infrastructure and transport sectors has demonstrated that that an effectively managed integration of electric vehicles with the energy system can significantly improve electricity network efficiency, increase system resilience and limit the requirement to build costly new infrastructure to meet growing electricity demand.

The EVET was established in 2018 and chaired by Energy Systems Catapult chief executive Philip New, to make proposals to Government and industry to bring together the auto and energy sectors to ensure that the GB energy system is able to accelerate the mass take-up of electric vehicles while also delivering benefits to the electricity system.

The infrastructure spending required to prepare the UK electricity networks for the electric vehicle transition is likely to run to tens of £billions[1]. However, the EVET believes this cost can be significantly reduced if the right decisions are made and the transition is effectively coordinated between government and key energy, infrastructure and transport industry stakeholders. A prior study put this figure at between £2.7bn and £6.5bn.[2]

The Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce, an unprecedented collaboration (established jointly by energy and transport ministers at the Prime Minister’s Zero Emission Vehicle Summit, in September 2018[3]) is made up of more than 350 organisations including many household names (see Annex 1).

In its formal report to the Government, the Taskforce sets out a range of proposals to enable the efficient integration of electric vehicles with the energy system during the electrification transition. These include:

  • Ensuring that EV drivers, electricity consumers and the energy system benefit from the integration of EVs and the energy system;
  • Providing financial incentives to EV drivers to ensure that the potential energy storage capacity of millions of electric vehicles is used to reduce peak demand;
  • Prioritising greater standardisation across the charging network to ensure it works resiliently, efficiently and securely with the electricity system;
  • Establishing an independent body to promote the benefits of smart charging through a major publicity campaign to ensure EV drivers are confident and well informed;
  • Extending the principle of ‘open data’ in the energy system to include EV charge points and EVs to allow more effective smart charging of EVs;
  • Co-ordinating energy and transport planning to ensure we have the right infrastructure in the right place.

The Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce is believed to be the most wide-ranging collaboration between the UK’s energy and transport/mobility industries. The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership was asked to convene and facilitate the work of the Taskforce.

The Taskforce states that “the transition to electric motoring is now well under way”, but that the pace must increase. Road transport accounts for 28% of the UK’s total energy consumption and 25% of carbon emissions.

Philip New, Chief Executive, Energy Systems Catapult and the EV Energy Taskforce Chair said: “Ensuring that the mass roll-out of electric vehicles delivers benefits for both drivers and the wider energy system requires actions from industry, Government and the regulator, including creating the new markets and policies that can unlock EVs’ huge potential.”

The Taskforce expects electric vehicles to become ubiquitous on Britain’s roads, providing a significant challenge – and opportunity – for the UK’s electricity network.

Coordinating the introduction of a smart charging infrastructure will enable network operators to balance demand and supply through an electricity grid increasingly incorporating intermittent renewable energy sources. EV drivers willing to charge their vehicles during periods of low electricity demand or when surplus renewable energy is being generated will benefit from lower fuel costs in the transition ahead.

Three important recommendations relate to the correct use of consumers’ personal data and the means to ensure people’s privacy is properly protected and smart EV charging is secure.

Commenting in advance of today’s launch event in Westminster…

Minister for the Future of Transport George Freeman said: “We are 100% committed to decarbonising the UK’s road network. Our £1.5bn Road to Zero strategy is supporting a thriving electric vehicle market; last year in the UK a battery electric vehicle was sold every 15 minutes.

“Government commissioned the Taskforce to advise how we can best work with industry to make sure the energy system is ready for the transition to electric vehicles. This report provides important evidence to shape the next stage of our Road to Zero roadmap.”

Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “From cycling, to opting for an airline that offsets its carbon emissions, the ways we travel are changing as the UK makes positive strides towards ending its contribution to global warming by 2050.

“This report takes us a step closer towards the mass uptake of electric vehicles on our streets – providing guidance to ensure our energy system is prepared for an electric transport revolution and helping consumers top-up their vehicle more cheaply and conveniently on the go.”

Fintan Slye, Director of National Grid ESO said: “Electric vehicles will play a key role in decarbonising the UK’s transport and electricity sectors. Smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology means we can use renewable energy more efficiently, charging when the sun shines or the wind blows and potentially discharging back to the grid at times of peak demand.

“With an estimated 35 million electric vehicles on the roads by 2050 or sooner, we have a fantastic opportunity for the transport and electricity sectors to work together to deliver a low carbon transition that benefits all electricity consumers.”

David Smith, Chief Executive, Energy Networks Association (ENA) said: “To develop and deliver a smart efficient national electric vehicle charging network will require effective local and national energy planning and coordination to enable efficient investment, mediating the balance between futureproofing and asset stranding.”

Audrey Gallacher, Interim Chief Executive, Energy UK said: “Smart electric vehicle charging represents a fantastic opportunity to cut the cost of driving and improve the operation of the energy system, so it’s a win-win. To make sure that everyone can benefit, consumers must have freedom over when they charge their vehicle and should be rewarded for being flexible in doing so.”

Mike Hawes, Chief Executive, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said: “The recent growth in electric vehicles shows there is buyer appetite for these new, exciting technologies. Vehicle manufacturers are investing heavily to bring more choice to the UK but to drive uptake to meaningful levels, this must be supported by a long-term commitment to financial incentives, as well as an appropriate and highly visible charging network. Drivers must feel confident that it is as easy to charge as it is to pull up at a forecourt and refuel.”

Howard Porter, Chief Executive, BEAMA said: “Providing EV drivers with a hassle-free, seamless charging experience requires the urgent development of further standards and codes of practice that ensure full inter-operability and sharing of data between the vehicle and the electricity system.”

Matt Evans, Director- Markets at TechUK, said: “A smart grid, delivering smart charging to smart electric vehicles requires accessible data. Frameworks therefore need to be developed to facilitate the appropriate, secure sharing of this data.”

Kevin Welstead, Electric vehicles sector director SSE Enterprise said: “With increasing demands being placed on the electricity grid, it is vital to adopt an holistic approach that provides an integrated platform to optimise energy load and generation, cutting toxic emissions in the most cost effective and least disruptive way for consumers.”

Andy Eastlake, the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership’s Managing Director said: “Developing a multi-stakeholder co-ordinated view on what is needed to liberate the electric vehicle smart charging sector has been vital in providing ‘no regret’ proposals to government and industry.”

Notes:

  1. The Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce was established in autumn 2018; an initiative announced at the Prime Minister’s Zero Emission Vehicle Summit, held in Birmingham, in September 2018. The Taskforce was established to make suggestions to Government and industry to ensure that the GB energy system is ready for and able to facilitate and exploit the mass take up of electric vehicles.
  1. In order to meet climate change targets, the government has already announced that conventionally powered cars will be phased out by 2040. The Committee on Climate Change estimates that the new net zero target could mean that this date will be brought forward. National Grid ESO’s Future Energy Scenarios show that 11.9 million vehicles could be electric by 2030.[4]
  1. The Taskforce’s 21 recommendations are made under five themes:
  • Theme one: Delivering consumer benefits through interoperability
  • Theme two: Rewarding consumers for charging smartly
  • Theme three: Utilising and protecting data for better consumer outcomes
  • Theme four: Winning consumers’ trust and confidence
  • Theme five: Developing and maintaining the charging infrastructure consumers need

More information: lowcvp.org.uk/evet

  1. The LowCVP (lowcvp.org.uk), which was established in 2003, is a public-private partnership that exists to accelerate a sustainable shift to lower carbon vehicles and fuels and create opportunities for UK businesses. Nearly 200 organisations are engaged from diverse backgrounds, including automotive and fuel supply chains, government, vehicle users, academics, environment groups and others.

[1] https://es.catapult.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Preparing-UK-Electricity-Networks-for-Electric-Vehicles-FINAL.pdf

[2] https://www.eti.co.uk/programmes/transport-ldv/consumers-vehicles-and-energy-integration-cvei

[3]  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/zero-emission-vehicle-summit

[4] http://fes.nationalgrid.com/