Rebalancing the electrical grid to cope with large scale overnight charging is one of the many challenges the UK faces in its transition to all-electric vehicles, but Vattenfall UK’s managing director Stewart Dawson is confident the technology exists to keep the nation fully charged.
“With electric vehicles set to become dominant in the future everyone is going to want to charge them up overnight. At the moment night-time is seen as a ‘green’ phase of electrical demand, one that is easily managed.
“But with hundreds of thousands of vehicles of all sizes eventually being plugged in, night time is set to swing into a high demand ‘red’ phase on the electricity network. The question is: ‘How do we rebalance the grid to cope with this spike in demand?’”
So says Stewart Dawson, managing director of Vattenfall UK, a multifaceted electrical generation and distribution business. A lifelong electrical expert who has worked on some of the country’s largest electrical projects, Dawson is confident that if society is flexible enough to adopt new charging practices and technology, the UK will escape the black outs and brown outs experienced by other countries.
“Of course, new power generation is part of the answer – especially renewable power,” says Dawson, “but there are lots of exciting ways to use the electricity we have in more creative ways to benefit society at large.
“For example, when railway station car parks are filled with commuters’ electric cars, why not harness the latent energy in all those fully charged batteries? Rather than them sitting idle all day, we could connect to them and harvest the energy stored in this giant collective battery to power the station, or part of the rail network – and the motorists would receive a benefit for allowing this to happen such as free parking.
“This isn’t pie in the sky – Network Rail looked at car-to-grid charging in its car parks several years ago, but it wasn’t economic then – but with electric car take-up accelerating its time may yet come.”