National grid support needed ahead of EV switch, DevicePilot finds

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More needs to be done to ensure the UK electricity grid is ready for the switch to EVs, according to IoT service monitoring platform DevicePilot which works with charging infrastructure companies such as Pod Point.

During a panel session on the future of EV charging, DevicePilot forecasted that if all of the UK’s 31 million cars transition to electric this would require 200GW of power – the grid currently produced between 30 and 50GW.

Pilgrim Beart, CEO of DevicePilot, said: “Obviously this isn’t going to work! Now I don’t believe that there’ll be national blackouts everywhere, I’m sure we’ll find a way through.

“I don’t know whether that’s down to statistics, consumer behaviour, technology, pricing… there’s lots of possible ways that we might find our way through.”

Beart went onto explain that currently the focus is on building the infrastructure, securing permits and training qualified electricians. He continued that the next challenge is to ensure it all works.

He said: “Mainstream consumers expect stuff to ‘just work’, to be boringly reliable. When you go to fill up your car in a petrol station today it works every time – completely reliably and dependably. And the same is definitely not true of EV charging anywhere at the moment yet.”

Smart charging and V2G solutions could be the answer, according to Goran Strbac, professor of energy systems at Imperial College, London. During the panel discussion, he said: “We could potentially support cost effective transition to low carbon system by having the vehicles provide this critically-important balancing frequency regulation.

“When we lose a big generator and if the market was correct, we said that drivers should get paid for charging the vehicles, because the contribution to the system is very significant.”

Furthermore, Strbac called for an alignment of the objectives of decarbonisation of the energy system with electrification of the transport sector. He added: “We’re also moving into this digitalised world, where this smart control is now getting into place, and if we link that with this EV charging that’s going to be massively supporting the cost of the transition to a low carbon system.

“If we get this properly aligned this is going to be really important and beneficial – it would also sort out the consumer issues.”

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