Could your EV fleet help supply the extra electricity the UK needs?
12th July 2021
Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging could change the way businesses think about electricity.
As electric vehicles (EVs) become more common in the UK, electricity demand will inevitably rise. This’ll create new opportunities with commercial EV fleets. Ultimately, it could help turn what’s currently a cost centre – refuelling – into a potential revenue stream through optimisation of electricity use.
It’s difficult to predict precisely how much extra demand for electricity EVs will create, but alongside wider electrification, it’ll be significant.
In their Future Energy Scenarios from 2020, National Grid discusses one scenario where peak electricity demand could be around 62 gigawatts (GW) per day by 2030 and between 76-96GW by 2050.
To put that in context, in 2019 peak electricity demand on a cold winter’s day in the UK was in the region of 59GW. So even by 2030, we could already be needing around 5% more electricity at peak times. And we could need more than 50% extra by 2050.
Increases in demand are likely to affect the price of electricity. That price volatility creates an opportunity for profit, through optimising bi-directional vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging.
Organisations with large EV fleets are going to want to charge them at the optimal time. That’ll be when the price of electricity is at its lowest, which is typically overnight.
If millions of EVs are charging at the same time, electricity will become more expensive. A sharp rise and sustained level of demand could even change the traditional pattern of daytime peak/night-time off-peak power pricing.
Changing price dynamics are already creating an opportunity for EV owners. We’re helping some of our customers by finding the optimal tariffs to reduce their charging costs. By automating their systems to charge only when the electricity price has fallen to a given level, we’re helping to reduce our customers’ costs.
By going beyond optimisation and enabling bidirectional charging, these customers could send electricity back to the grid at times of peak demand. This creates a new revenue stream, by providing flexibility services when the price is right.
By going beyond optimisation and enabling bidirectional charging, these customers could send electricity back to the grid at times of peak demand.
EVs are effectively mobile batteries that can be charged and discharged. Any power in a fleet’s EVs can be sent back to the grid with a V2G charger.
In one of National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios, V2G charging could provide up to 38GW of flexible power from 5.5 million EVs. That extra electricity would cover all the extra peak power needed in their highest-demand scenario for 2050.
That’s a huge opportunity
Bidirectional charge points are available now, but not yet at sufficient scale or an appropriate price to be viable.
The time’s soon approaching when economies of scale will make bidirectional charging technology more affordable and more widely available. Businesses that own EV fleets will be in pole position to profit.
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