Lower energy bills for off-peak EV charging required to take strain off the grid

Electric vehicle owners should be offered lower off-peak tariffs to encourage them to charge at quiet times, a consumer watchdog has suggested.

Citizens Advice says that its research into EV ownership indicates most owners plug their vehicles in when they get in in the evening, just as there’s a spike in energy usage from people getting home from work and turning on lights, heating and cooking appliances.

Electric vehicles make up a small portion of the car market, but sales are increasing so quickly most manufacturers are struggling to cope with demand. Coupled with the government’s plan to ban the sale of traditionally powered vehicles by 2040, there is concern the grid couldn’t cope with millions of motorists plugging in at the same time.

The Superb hybrid features a plug in the radiator grille
(Skoda)

One of the recommendations is to offer lower tariffs for motorists who charge their vehicles at off-peak times, such as the middle of the day or night. Some car and charging point manufacturers already offer the ability to designate when charging should begin once a car is plugged in.

Citizens Advice also recommends ramping up research into charging points that let owners ‘sell’ electricity back to the grid while visiting a shopping centre, for example.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “The electric vehicle market is small, but rapidly expanding. It’s also a vital part of the decarbonisation of the whole transport system.

“If the evolution of new charging systems is to be a success, drivers need to be involved and listened to from the start.”

🚗⚡ Sales of electric vehicles are increasing – which is good news for the environment and the decarbonisation of our transport system – but a big challenge for the electricity grid.

Read our report released today https://t.co/umRKNElP1rpic.twitter.com/F5Gqut6ss3

— Citizens Advice (@CitizensAdvice) May 23, 2019

A recent investigation by the Press Association found that many manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand for their electric vehicles. Prospective Hyundai and Kia owners are facing waits of up to 12 months, while even automotive giant Volkswagen was forced to stop taking EV orders last year, blaming long lead times.

Simon Moores, managing director of lithium-ion battery specialist Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, said the issue was down to a bottleneck in the production of the high-quality batteries needed for electric vehicles.

He said: “Not all lithium-ion batteries can be used in all electric vehicles. There are quality and scale issues at play, and they don’t usually go hand in hand.”

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