In July 2017, the UK government announced that sales of new diesel and petrol vehicles will be banned from 2040 in an attempt to “tackle air pollution”.
Whilst political debate has mainly centred on how ambitious the proposal is, the main question consumers and businesses alike should be asking is how the switch from diesel and petrol to primarily electric vehicles (EVs) can be achieved practically, with minimal disruption and cost implications whilst offering maximum convenience.
Electric Vehicle Market
Usage of EVs in the UK is rising; in 2013 only 3,500 of the newly registered cars in the UK were plug-in full electric or hybrid EVs, whereas in 2017, the number is greater than 63,000.
However, this does not tell the entire story because, as of July 2017, fully electric cars only represent around 1.7% of the total new car market in the UK. It is also worth addressing the fact that whilst statistics are showing an increase in the number of EVs on British roads, they are not necessarily reflecting how well the National Grid has coped with the increase in demand or whether EV users are satisfied with the experience of having an EV as their primary form of transport in the UK.
One of the biggest complaints and sources of frustration for existing users and potential customers alike is that there is currently a lack of accessible charging points, particularly fast/rapid chargers, in the UK. In addition, there is a lack of infrastructure to support them or the wider roll out which results in range anxiety, unacceptable charging times and increased costs associated with refuelling. This element of the EV experience has been summarised by Dr Alex Mardapittas, Managing Director of Powerstar, here.
With the necessary increase in demand for EVs that is inevitable for the government plans to come to fruition, greater pressure will be placed on to the National Grid. Currently it is unrealistic to assume that the National Grid could cope with this heightened responsibility.
This is because the grid is already experiencing supply issues due to the natural increase in demand that has happened with the evolution and advancement of technology and an ever-growing reliance on electrical equipment, such as large data centres and automated processes on a 24-hour basis. The concerns for the security of supply is enhanced by statistics which reveal that 986 blackouts or brownouts occurred throughout 2016, a 46% increase on the 2015 rates, which is more than double the increase rate of 20% from 2014-2015. In addition to this the effects of increased EV adoption poses further challenges.
As a present-day example, imagine a company with a fleet of 20 EVs. Assuming the vehicles are kept to a strict 24-hour shift arrangement, it would be crucial for the vehicles to be charged quickly to meet the businesses requirements and schedule. The viable option in this case would be rapid chargers. However, if all the cars are using rapid chargers, it could result in as many as 10 cars charging simultaneously, as each rapid charger would draw 50kW this would be inflated to a 500kW load which is a very large demand for the majority of commercial businesses, and potentially would result in an infrastructure upgrade being required to support the extra load.
This infrastructure upgrade could be very costly; the process of increasing a company’s supply can often total in excess of £50,000+. If the local network is saturated (which is often the case) the supply upgrade could have knock on effects upstream, which may even require the local substation to be upgraded, at a considerable fee which often exceeds £100,000. By having local storage, the need to upgrade becomes unnecessary, as the storage can charge during non-utilised times, as well as being charged from local generation and renewable energy, and provide the power requirements to the chargers without pulling extra load from the grid.
A VIRTUOUS SOLUTION, VIRTUE EV
It is clear that for the plan of the government to become reality, actions must be taken to ensure that EVs can match the convenience expected from the average consumer, at either a commercial or personal level, that diesel and petrol vehicles currently provide.
For this to happen, it will require the introduction of local rapid charging and energy storage to greatly reduce demand spikes and supply the highest possible charging rate by utilising stored energy to deal with the sudden ramp up of power. Not only does this method help the wider grid infrastructure, but it also helps reduce cost on the local network and supports the wider roll out of EV charging points across the UK.
This is where the benefits of an integrated energy storage and rapid EV charging system, such as the VIRTUE EV system by Powerstar, could play a big part in the future energy landscape and support the Governments “clean air” plans.
The VIRTUE EV system can allow a site with limited grid capacity to charge vehicles without upgrading grid infrastructure. This is due to VIRTUE EV having integrated 6kW or 12kW solar canopies and the functionality to store energy provided during the low DUoS periods, or via renewables, and utilise it when required to provide rapid charging at 50kWh, therefore limiting the load of the grid at critical times.
In addition, VIRTUE EV can be connected through a 16a 1-phase and still provide 110a rapid charging making it viable for the even the most constricted parts of the network, such as central London.
Due to the integrated solar canopies, it has the capability of to provide 6 back to back rapid charges without any grid support (10 rapid charges with 16a grid connection) whilst being able to provide full UPS to the load (if there is one).
It is the support of innovative companies focussed on producing a solution rather than simply a system that will transform the 2040 plan, which now seems like a fairy-tale, into a reality.
 Channelbiz Electrical Times 2016