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EV Market Overview 2021

The Journey So Far: EV Market Update 2021

Over the last 8 years, the market has seen the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK increase significantly, with new registrations rising from 3,500 in 2013 to over 383,000 at the end of October 2020. To compete with this rise in demand, the number of available pure electric and plug-in hybrid car models has also increased, with a wide range of top UK manufacturers now offering EV model vehicles.

Figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) every month continue to show growing UK sales over recent months and years. During the first 6 months in 2014, only approximately 500 EV’s were registered monthly; however, this has risen to an average of 12,100 a month in 2020. During the 9 months between January and September 2020 more than 108,000 plug-in cars were registered, nearly double the amount in 2018.

In 2019, 3.2% of vehicles registered were of the plug-in variety, but 2020 saw a significant increase with an average of 10.7% by December 2020. Despite the coronavirus impact in 2020, figures demonstrated a huge year of growth for plug-in vehicles, a trend expected to continue in 2021.

In 2018, not only did electric vehicles represent 2.7% of the total new sales market, but 3.8% of the total UK registrations of those are now of the plug-in variety. Within the first 10 months of 2019, more than 54,000 plug-in vehicles were sold, and over 63,000 new vehicles are now on the road.

Source: Next Greencar

EV CHARGING IMPACT

As a result of sustained Government and private investment, the UK network of EV charging points continues to rise from a couple of hundred in 2011 to more than 13,438 charging locations, 21,198 charging devices and 36,863 connectors by January 2021. As charging points in the UK continue to increase, the proportion of charger types also continues to change and increase, with a surge in high power (rapid and ultra-rapid) units being installed.

Profile of UK charging points by charger speed 2011 – 2021

Source: Zap-Map Statistics

Recent statistics, captured on 19th January 2021 disclosed that there were 7,957 rapid chargers on the UK network, with 80 rapid charger devices being installed within the previous 30 days, equating to 153 new rapid charger connections, demonstrating the continued growth of the UK charging network.

To keep up with the continued increase in demand for electric vehicles, especially long ranging and faster changing, this number is set to increase. Rapid charging units (43-50kW) are often of preference due to being able to provide a standard electric vehicle (23 – 30kWh) with 80% state of charge (SoC) in approximately 30 minutes[1]. Despite the benefits, rapid chargers do have limitations as they can only be used in specific areas, where supply can tolerate a sudden unexpected load, which is restricted in some areas due to UK network constraints, resulting in medium-sized commercial companies struggling to charge multiple cars simultaneously through rapid charging using their current grid connection.

PROTECTING THE GRID

Despite the continued surge in the EV market, the wider adoption is still somewhat restricted. One core issue being range anxiety due to the majority of EV’s only being able to achieve a third of the range of a standard fuel consuming car, mainly due to battery capacity, influenced by cost and space restrictions.

Interestingly, to keep up with the demand for EV batteries to have a larger capacity, the popular Nissan Leaf now offers a 62 kWh battery with a range of up to 239 miles, alongside its 40kWh version, with a range of 168 miles. Nissan isn’t alone with this evolution, as both Tesla and BMW are continuing to provide increased battery size vehicles. Despite these industry-wide improvements moving in the right direction for diminishing range anxiety, they further exacerbate issues surrounding demand as a larger EV battery increases demand on the electrical grid.

Another disadvantage to EV vehicles is charging time, as to fill up a tank of fuel usually takes a maximum of 2-3 minutes, whereas to charge an electric vehicle, it will take at least 20 minutes through a rapid connection, and more than likely over 8-12 hours if charging at home. Charging time is affected by how fast each particular vehicle can be charged and how much available power there is. The Energyst’s 2020 EV report showed that many people are considering both rapid and slow chargers; however, rapid chargers are more favourable, highlighting a key challenge to consider to whether the infrastructure is in place to accommodate more rapid chargers.

A final major restriction to the wider adoption of electric vehicles is the price barrier. EV’s are noticeably more expensive than internal combustion engine vehicles, removing them from the low-level vehicle market, with costs of EV base models rising by 18% since 2013, according to research from Cap HPI[2]. In addition to this, EV’s cannot commonly be found second hand, although this has improved significantly in recent years. Despite vehicles being notably more expensive, the government offers a grant to vehicle dealerships and manufacturers for customers to receive a discount on the price of brand-new low emission vehicles[3], with a maximum grant available of £3,000.

As convenience is of most importance within the UK market, all of the named issues are seen as barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles. In order to continue rectifying these issues, manufacturers must continue to research and increase vehicle capacity, the speed and availability of charging points and reduce manufacturing costs.

Strategy for Electric Vehicles Achieving Net Zero Targets

Car manufacturers continue to increase the capacity of electric vehicles, with more vehicles now offering in excess of 250 miles range. The vehicle with the longest claimed range to date is the Tesla Model S long range with a 379-mile range.

In order for EV’s to achieve the same range as a standard internal combustion engine, a hatchback or saloon vehicle would need a battery size of approximately 90kWh and 150kWh respectively. Therefore, each individual car would require 180kW and 300kW chargers to be able to charge them under 30 minutes (0-80% in approximately 20 minutes). If manufacturers choose this route, which many believe is essential for wider adoption within the market, this could potentially cause new and more significant issues.

More energy will be required to be available on-demand in order to continue maintaining expectations of charging vehicles at an exponential rate, posing a potential threat and issues to the local and national grid infrastructures as power demand increases. In order to accommodate rapid high-power chargers, which will ultimately introduce multi-megawatt power swings at specific time periods throughout the day, the grid requires immediate capacity to be prepared for when these swings take place.

In order to maintain expectations of charging vehicles at an exponential rate, businesses must consider multiple options in order to cater for the increase in demand. Firstly, introducing flexible generation and supporting mechanisms to deal with potential spikes from EV chargers, whilst also adhering to net zero targets through implementing clean generation. Secondly, utilising local storage to balance generation and consumption, taking the strain off the sudden requirement to discharge when a vehicle is charging, removing pressure from the grid. In order to support businesses’ net zero targets effectively, a combination of both options, the co-location of generation with battery energy storage, would be most beneficial and cost effective.

Powerstar is able to assist businesses with its VIRTUE EV technology which is a fast/rapid EV charging solution with integrated battery energy storage and solar, lessening the impact on the grid and utilising energy storage technology and renewables instead. Through installing this, costly infrastructure upgrades are avoided, which are currently necessary in support of the mass adoption of EVs. Not only does this provide its benefits, but the adoption of energy storage technologies also maximises on-site generation (including renewables), generating revenue through participating in grid contracts when not required for EV charging, alongside providing power resilience, protecting sites from power failures.

If you would like to know more information about Electrical Vehicles and Battery-Buffered EV charging and its benefits, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to discuss how Powerstar could help your business.

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25 February 2021

[1] https://www.zap-map.com/charge-points/

[2] https://www.fleetnews.co.uk/news/fleet-industry-news/2020/03/03/electric-vehicle-study-shows-cost-increase

[3] https://www.gov.uk/plug-in-car-van-grants

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