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Government plans to stop home charging during peak hours to help balance the grid

Tags: #ev-autonomous-driving #ev-charging #ev-home-charging #power-grid #vehicle-to-grid-v2g

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced legislation that would limit EV owners’ ability to charge at home during peak energy consumption hours. The move is designed to reduce strain on the energy grid and prevent blackouts associated with too much demand.

Starting at the end of May 2022, every new EV home charger will need to be smart – that is connected to the internet – to enable better control of consumption and charging scheduling. Under the plans put forward by the government, new chargers would be pre-set to limit their use between 8.00am and 11.00am, and 4.00pm to 10.00pm. This would also apply to chargers installed at workplaces.

The rationale is simple; limit the chances of demand spikes which would coincide with peak usage and have the potential to cause local blackouts. As you’d imagine, these peak times coincide with breakfast and the evening, when people get home and start using appliances for cooking and recreation.

In an extension to the plan, a “randomised delay” of 30 minutes could be imposed on individual chargers to prevent grid spikes in localised areas at other times.

Whilst this is a blow to current and prospective EV owners – especially in the face of a ban on new petrol and diesel car sales in 2030, it’s not quite as terrible as some of the headlines might have you believe.

Currently, the legislation has been launched as a draft statutory instrument with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to bring in the mandate that chargers “incorporate pre-set default charging hours which are outside peak hours”. Whilst there’s all likelihood that the statute will pass, when implemented it will be up to users if they stick to the default settings.

In reality, EV owners and charge point users will be prompted that they can edit the default settings when they first use their charger. At any point, they could turn off or slightly alter the 8.00-11.00am and 4.00-10.00pm mandate to suit their needs and not negatively affect their experience. This is also an important factor for the numerous EV owners who charge using a smart tariff which encourages them to charge outside of peak hours, anyway.

In addition to consumers being able to override the default charging restrictions, public chargers, such as those at the roadside, would be exempt from the scheme. Furthermore, savvy EV owners are typically aware and taking advantage of the fact that charging during off-peak hours can cost less than half the amount it does at other times. As such, most EV owners probably wouldn’t feel much – if any – impact from the limitations.

Another factor that we need to bear in mind is that in the future, vehicle to grid (V2G) bi-directional charging will help with grid balancing, using plugged-in cars as energy sumps when demand is high. Similarly, smart home energy systems including storage and generation via solar are growing in popularity, so grid demand should even out.

Ultimately, there is enough capacity in the grid as a whole to cater for the predicted uptake of EVs. It’s only in working out charging best practices to ensure spikes in demand are evened out that issues are arising.

 

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