73.The National Grid’s 2021 Future Energy Scenarios (FES), which outlines four different pathways for energy usage over the next 30 years, forecasts an overall reduction in energy demand across all scenarios as road transport is decarbonised.202 However, each scenario also demonstrates that the transition to electric vehicles will result in increased demands on the electricity system (see Figure 3).203
Figure 3: Total annual demand for road transport in 2050
Source: National Grid, Future Energy Scenarios 2021
74.The Department stated that it regularly meets electricity network operators to discuss how extra demand can be met.204 In July 2019, the Government launched a consultation on its aim to “maximise the use of smart charging technologies, to benefit both consumers and the electricity system, while supporting the transition to EVs.”205 To achieve its aim, the Government stated that it will intervene to encourage consumer uptake of smart charging and innovation.206 Phase one of the consultation focused on the potential merits of mandating that all private charge points are smart and meet minimum device standards.207 The relevant legislation will be laid before Parliament in 2021.208 The Government and Ofgem will publish the second phase of the Smart Systems Flexibility Plan (SSFP) in 2021, which will set out the reforms necessary to ensure flexibility across the energy system.209
75.Several witnesses raised the extra demand that electric vehicle charging will place on the grid as the uptake of ZEVs increases.210 However, Energy UK and National Grid told us that the electricity network, at both transmission and distribution levels, can cope with increases in demand and that smart charging will play a crucial role.211 Graeme Cooper from National Grid explained that Ofgem has already indicated that energy will be measured every half-hour, which will stimulate smart-tariffs. With a smart charger, drivers can charge their vehicles “smartly when the grid is at least pressure and is the cleanest, greenest and cheapest.”212
76.Winning the trust and confidence of consumers in all aspects of the transition to ZEVs is essential, including the roll-out of smart charging.213 If people do not apply for the Government’s home charging grant, then they can easily buy and install a low standard charger without smart functionality.214 There are also “thousands of chargers in the field” that predate smart functionality.215 Graeme Cooper told us that the Government should mandate all chargers to be “smart, visible and controllable,” while leaving it to the market to decide who should control smart functionality for the consumer.216 Shell UK called for a consumer-led approach to the roll-out of smart charging.217 A small-scale trial demonstrated that managed smart charging resulted in operational benefits for the grid.218 The EV Energy Taskforce recommended that an independent, consumer-facing body should undertake an ongoing and proactive campaign to communicate the benefits of smart charging to the public.219
77.The Department is confident that the energy market will respond to the increase in electricity demand as a result of the transition to electric vehicles. Richard Bruce suggested that off-peak tariffs will incentivise people, including those who currently have chargers without smart functionality, to charge their vehicles overnight.220 The Minister confirmed that the Government is using powers in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 to make all newly installed private charge points include smart functionality. For on-street charging, charge point operators have a “massive commercial incentive” to aggregate energy from vehicles plugged into on-street chargers and sell it back to the grid.221 The Department is confident that as smart charging technology becomes more sophisticated, new ways for electric vehicles to interact with the grid will emerge, such as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.222
78.We welcome the Government’s commitment to mandate that all new private charge points should be equipped with smart functionality and to introduce the relevant legislation later in 2021.
79.The Government must mandate industry to:
a)use price as a lever to shift consumer behaviour away from conventional refuelling habits towards ‘a little but often’ approach; and
b)incentivise consumers to charge at times when there is less demand on the electricity grid.
202 The four scenarios are; Steady Progression, System Transformation, Consumer Transformation, and Leading the Way.
203 National Grid, Future Energy Scenarios, July 2021, p.58
204 UIN 130716 (on Electric Vehicles: Charging Points), 16 December 2020
205 HM Government, Electric Vehicle Smart Charging, July 2019, The Government has defined smart charging as shifting the time of day when an EV charges, or modulating the rate of charge at different times, in response to signals (e.g. electricity tariff information).
208 UIN 130716 (on Electric Vehicles: Charging Points), 16 December 2020
209 HM Government, Transitioning to zero emission cars and vans: 2035 delivery plan, 14 July 2021
210 RAC Motoring Services (EVP0013), Honda Motor Europe (EVP0014), Mr Michael Cope (EVP0022), Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (EVP0036), Alliance of British Drivers (EVP0037), England’s Economic Heartland (EVP0039), North East England Chamber of Commerce (EVP0049), Transport for West Midlands (EVP0078), Logistics UK (EVP0083), Ombudsman Services (EVP0086), Siemens Mobility Limited (EVP0098), Transport for the North (EVP0101), Arup (EVP0105), TRL Ltd (EVP0110), CCC (EVP0118), SMMT (EVP0136)
212 Q39 (Graeme Cooper)
213 EV Energy Taskforce, Energising out electric vehicle transition, January 2020
214 Q15 (Graeme Cooper), Q16 (Tanya Sinclair)
215 Q16 (Tanya Sinclair)
216 Q15 (Graeme Cooper)
218 Q17 (Roger Hunter)
219 EV Energy Taskforce, Energising out electric vehicle transition, January 2020
220 Q144 (Richard Bruce)
221 Q145 (Richard Bruce)
222 Q144 (Richard Bruce)
Published: 28 July 2021 Site information Accessibility statement