The anticipated growth in the use of electric and plug-in vehicles over the coming years will create challenges and exciting new opportunities for the rapidly evolving UK electricity supply system.
The Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce will be discussed in more detail at the Zero Emission Vehicle Summit, convened at the request of the Prime Minister, which takes place in Birmingham today.
The Taskforce will, for the first time, bring together the energy and automotive industries to plan for the changes that will take place as a result of rising electric vehicle use. The Taskforce, for which the LowCVP will provide secretariat functions, is chaired by Phil New, Chief Executive of the Energy Systems Catapult.
Plug-in electric vehicle use has been increasing sharply in the last few years, albeit from a low base; representing over 4% of new car sales for the latest month for which figures are available (Aug 2018).
The Road to Zero strategy confirmed the Government’s commitment for all new cars and vans to be zero emission vehicles by 2040. The vast majority of these vehicles are expected to be fully or partly electrified.
Meanwhile, the UK’s energy generation system is also rapidly changing. In the short term, the rollout of smart meters and electric vehicle charging infrastructure will offer opportunities for the energy sector to work with consumers to level off electricity demand.
By 2050, the UK will be powered by low, or zero, carbon electricity generation and, increasingly, by distributed renewable sources. The intermittent nature of renewable generation – providing surpluses at some times of day and deficits at others – creates a need (and a significant business opportunity) for new energy storage solutions.
The batteries in electric vehicles (as well as those in ‘second life’) could provide a key missing link in the UK’s future energy supply ‘mix’.
The objective of the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce is to put engaging the electric vehicle user at the heart of preparing the electricity system for the mass take up of electric vehicles. It aims to ensure that costs and emissions are as low as possible, and opportunities for vehicles to provide grid services are capitalised upon for the benefit of the system, energy bill payers and electric vehicle owners.
Driven by the requirement to tackle climate change, the transformation in mobility and energy production creates great opportunities for innovators, holding out the prospect of significant UK exports and growth as well as greater security of energy supply.