The voice of the energy industry

Consumers must be in the driving seat of the electric vehicle revolution

To achieve our net-zero target we have to decarbonise our transport sector and fast. To do this will require collaboration across sectors, and Energy UK is happy to be at the forefront of this.

We have been leading one of the workstreams of the Government-commissioned Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce, which reported to government this week.

The Taskforce was established in 2018 to look at how we can ensure that the GB energy system is able to accelerate the mass take-up of electric vehicles (EVs) while also delivering benefits to consumers and the electricity system.

The Taskforce’s final report was published this week at an event in Westminster, with a keynote address from the Minister for Transport George Freeman MP. The report – with 21 proposals for government and industry – is the product of widespread collaboration between the energy, infrastructure and transport sectors.

A positive consumer experience

Over the last 18 months, we have led the workstream on consumer engagement and smart charging. One of the key principles that we took forward as part of the Taskforce was that consumers must be rewarded for charging smartly - those who are willing to charge their vehicles at off-peak times, during periods of low electricity demand, or when surplus low carbon energy is being generated, should benefit from lower fuel costs in the transition.

We believe smart charging should be the default option, not opt-in. Smart charging also needs to be a seamless and an easy experience for drivers, with a consumer interface and products that are appealing and easy to use.

A key proposal in the report is to agree common standards by 2025, particularly on interoperability, data sharing and security. However, given the level of innovation in the sector, we feel this should be industry-led rather than set by government.

Infrastructure is key

The EV charging infrastructure is critical to ensuring drivers have up-to-date information, access and assurance that the charging points they need are in the right places, are available and working, and will be easy to use.

In the same way that EV consumers can benefit from cheaper electricity at off-peak demand times we also have the technology and opportunity to transform the EV batteries into flexible assets that support the electricity system during times of peak demand.

As we continue to introduce more low carbon, intermittent renewable and local generation, the importance of system flexibility will become key. In the coming weeks, we will be publishing a paper in conjunction with BEAMA, ADE and the REA on how to further unlock flexibility services.

Smart meters will be key to accessing meaningful data, driving forward innovation and as a key enabler to a smart, flexible future energy system. The Taskforce proposes that Government and Ofgem should take positive steps to encourage consumers to install a smart meter with every domestic chargepoint to allow full access to flexibility markets.

The future and next steps

In the future, electric vehicles will be the norm on Britain’s roads, providing a significant challenge – and opportunity – for the UK’s electricity system.

The report strongly emphasises 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.

As we have said in the report, the transition to electric motoring is now well under way but there is much more to do and the pace must increase.

The taskforce makes twenty-one key proposals for actions to be taken by government and industry to enable an effective and efficient electric mobility transition; we stand ready to do our part to deliver the recommendations that will bring about the electric vehicle revolution and the benefits to customers, our environment, our economy and to achieve our net zero and air quality targets.

Sam Hollister, Director of Economics and Corporate Services, Energy UK

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