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Why Battery Storage Could Be the Key to Unlocking EV






British businesses now have less than 10 years to prepare for the forthcoming EV revolution, with the sale of new petrol and diesel models set to be banned by 2030.

With most hybrids eventually being swept up in the same ban, commercial fleets will be reliant on electric models entirely from then on. For businesses looking to overhaul their existing fleets, as well as significantly trim back on net carbon emissions, a shift to EV seems like the obvious choice. However, the scale of the UK’s ambitious EV rollout targets, as well as the increasingly complex nature of how electricity is generated and distributed, means putting the infrastructure in place to keep the batteries on an EV fleet topped up may be a challenge.

The Transition to EV

Autocar released figures in February 2021 highlighting how rapidly EVs were gaining market share in the UK, but also how much work needs to be done to get to a point where the technology is ready to take over from combustion engines in new vehicles entirely in 2030.

Just six years ago, 1 in 200 new vehicles sold in the UK was an EV. By 2019 that had risen to 1 in 30, and in 2020 hit 1 in 10. While the growth has been remarkable, it was also put into context by highlighting that sales of EVs will still need to rise from a current figure of around 150,000 to some 2.4 million in just nine years, a 1500% increase.

Putting sales of EVs themselves aside, what is likely to be a more complex problem is the need to put in place the infrastructure to ensure sufficient access to charging stations. The level of additional generation needed is also an important factor: to electrify every car and van on the UK’s roads would represent an increase of around 100TWh in demand, according to National Grid. For 2019, the country’s entire electricity demand was 346TWh, meaning EV would increase overall electricity consumption by almost a third. While it would also see a dramatic fall in the use of oil, it represents an incredibly complex additional aspect into an already difficult balancing act for National Grid to balance varying distributed generation with demand across an aging network not designed for this level of complexity.

Balancing EV Demand

Many businesses and organisations looking to transition to an EV fleet will require on-site charging facilities. However, as rapid EV charging rolls out and charging points become higher and higher capacity, many sites will find that their total authorised capacity from National Grid will fall far short of that needed to support their required number of EV charging points.

While one solution to this issue would be to pay for an additional connection, this is both prohibitively expensive for most businesses, and, depending on the level of demand in your area, may simply not be possible. While grid connection costs vary, a Renewable Energy Toolkit put out by the Welsh Government put the cost at anywhere between £100,000/MW up to £1.7 million/MW. High voltage applications, such as those needed for rapid EV charging, can take anywhere up to three months simply for the DNO to make a decision.

An alternative solution is to use battery storage to allow EV charging without exceeding your total authorised capacity from the grid. By charging batteries either from on-site renewables, such as solar, or from grid supply during periods of low demand such as overnight, this capacity can then be used to provide the power needed for your EV charging infrastructure.

A 2020 report from Guidehouse Insights forecast that the use of stationary energy storage to support EV charging is expected to grow to 1,900MW of installed capacity by 2029, driven primarily by the need to roll out rapid charging – typically 50kW or above – while avoiding the costly and time-consuming process of implementing an additional grid connection.

As a result, a new wave of ‘electric forecourts’ in both the UK and USA are increasingly using a combination of on-site solar generation and battery storage to ensure enough power to provide rapid charging capability without prohibitive grid connection costs. As more and more businesses turn their focus to EVs, driven both by the looming ban on combustion engines and the growing importance of addressing carbon emissions, demand for similar setups on individual business sites is likely to grow rapidly.

Powerstar’s bespoke battery energy storage solutions are perfectly positioned to provide this application for businesses, enabling battery-buffered charging for EV fleets. We are also uniquely positioned to provide full feasibility studies of such solutions, using state-of-the-art modelling and simulation technology to prove the viability of its application before you commit to the full project.

Further benefits of the application of energy storage to facilitate EV charging includes the ability to partake in other activities when EV charging isn’t required. This includes full power resilience through uninterruptible power supply (UPS) capabilities, and generating revenue from grid balancing contracts.

To find out more about how Powerstar’s technology solutions can help your organisation to implement EV charging capacity cost-effectively while bolstering your energy resilience and green credentials, sign up to Powerstar’s newsletter below.

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EV Market Overview 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.


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