By Alex Audu, Low Carbon Technologies (LCT) Programme Manager
Whether the ban on new petrol vehicles comes in in 2040, 2035 or 2030 – Britain’s energy network companies are ready to roll when it comes to connecting new electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints as quickly as possible for the public.
To do that, two things are key. Network companies need to have the ability to innovate, so they can find new solutions to the challenges of installing chargepoints, and they need to have the ability to invest, to ensure they have the right infrastructure built in the right places for chargepoints to connect to.
Meeting with stakeholders – companies on the ground installing chargepoints around the country – to ensure they go about those two things in the right way is really important. So, last year we launched our first ‘Electric Vehicle Forums’ to do just that. This year, the forums are back once again.
Following a sell-out event in Cardiff last week, this week we held the second forum here at ENA’s HQ in London to discuss the challenges and opportunities that electric vehicles present and what steps network companies can and should take to assist with the connection of chargepoints.
So what have been the main takeaways so far?
Three things come have across from our attendees:
- The need to answer the question of who pays for the cost of new grid connections for EV chargepoints - this is particularly important as the number of chargepoints increases. The cost could be paid for by the customer (i.e. the business owning the site where they are installed), via publics’ energy bills (through network companies’ charges that are passed through), the Government (through public spending) or a mixture of those things. This is an important question because at the moment network companies can only spread the cost of reinforcing electricity grids – i.e. building new infrastructure to increase the grid’s capacity – across the publics’ energy bills if they can prove there is sufficient demand. Otherwise, it is the customer that has to pay
2. Making handling paperwork easier through digitalisation - last year, we launched new reforms that cut the amount of paperwork required for connecting electric vehicles to the grid, to allow more mass installations. These changes have been well received, but there’s more that we can do through digitalisation. One idea under active consideration is that network companies provide mobile app developers with the information needed for installers to complete their chargepoint connection paperwork with just a few touches of their mobile phones. We hope to say more on this soon
3. Finally, Vehicle to Grid technology – where EV owners are paid to sell some electricity from their cars back to the grid at peak times to free up grid capacity– is one of the most exciting developments out there at the moment. There’s a need to ensure that the application processes for a connection to the grid for that service are as smooth as possible by combining it with the processes for other existing low carbon technologies
With two of our forums completed, attendees are already playing an exciting role in helping ensure that our members not only better meet the publics’ needs today, but also well into the future – whenever the ban on new petrol or diesel cars comes in.
About Energy Networks Association
Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the industry body representing the companies which operate the electricity wires, gas pipes and energy system in the UK and Ireland.
ENA helps its members meet the challenge of delivering electricity and gas to communities across the UK and Ireland safely, sustainably and reliably.
Its members include every major electricity and gas network operator in the UK and Ireland, independent operators, National Grid ESO which operates the electricity system in Great Britain and National Grid Gas which operates the gas system in Great Britain. Its affiliate membership also includes companies with an interest in energy, including Heathrow Airport and Network Rail.
What are energy network operators?
Energy network operators manage and maintain the wires, pipes and other infrastructure which delivers electricity and gas to your home, business and community. They are private companies which are regulated by Ofgem and employ around 45,000 people in the UK and Ireland. They are represented by their industry body, Energy Networks Association (that's us).