Electric cars aren’t a magical panacea, and there are still environmental considerations in how they are used, specifically how they are charged. In my new report, The Smart Route to Electric Vehicles, commissioned by Smart Energy GB, I have explored how we can use the smart meter revolution and the shift to sustainable transport to put cheaper, cleaner power into electric vehicles, and ensure a fairer energy system in the process. Smart meters are currently being offered by energy suppliers free of charge to every household in Great Britain. They give householders the power to monitor how much energy they use, when they use it and how much it costs, which is hugely important for anyone who wants to charge an electric car at home. When electric cars become commonplace, most people will come home between 4-7pm and start charging their cars, happy in the knowledge that their carbon footprint has been heavily reduced by their new purchase. But is it enough just to purchase an electric car? Not really – remember that you are still using energy to charge your vehicle. That electricity has to come from somewhere, and choices you make will affect the environmental impact of your electric car. Charging your car between 4pm and 7pm is an environmentally poor decision, for example – this is the time when electricity is dirtiest (the most coal and gas) and often most expensive. Octopus Energy have launched a tariff that means you could even get paid to charge when the grid is running at an excess. This often happens when there is too much renewable energy on the system, like 2am on a windy spring night; it’s difficult to turn wind farms off, but easy to turn car chargers on. Linking EV drivers with smart meters to renewable energy generators means clean power providers can find a route to market during times when demand has historically been low. Smart metering is the key to this because it allows the system to track when customers use energy as well as how much they use. Given how easy it is to have a smart meter installed and how many new electric vehicles and electric vehicle tariffs there are coming to market, it looks like a love of the automobile and the desire for a sustainable future are not as far apart as they once were.
Telegraph 9th July 2018 read more »