All new cars with an internal combustion engine could be banned by 2030 if a report in ‘The Guardian’ is to be believed, so the motor trade has been planning and bracing itself for the widespread introduction of electric vehicles in the next decade.
However, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Chief Executive, Mike Hawes, has warned that without ‘massive investment in infrastructure’ bringing forward the ban could have a ‘devastating impact‘ on the British automotive industry.
Obviously, ‘range anxiety’ or in other words, running out of battery charge is a major concern for anyone who owns or thinking about owning an electric vehicle.
So much so that some insurance policies for an electric vehicle often include optional breakdown cover, incorporating transportation to the closest charge point in vehicle out-of-charge situation.
However, in recent reports a series of modifications to the so-called Smart Energy Code proposed by Richard Hartson, Electric Vehicle (EV) Readiness Manager at Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), have done little to allay such concerns.
Hartson said, ‘Electricity networks in Great Britain were not designed to accommodate the significant additional demand that certain consumer devices, such as electric vehicle (EV) chargers, presents.’
His proposed solution, albeit as a ‘last resort’, is to allow energy distributors to control the amount of energy supplied to domestic customers and to switch off EV chargers, possibly even electric central heating systems if necessary during periods of peak demand.
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The ‘Office of Gas and Electricity Markets’ (Ofgem) which is the government regulator said in a statement, ‘The process to consider this proposal is ongoing and a decision is not expected before spring 2021. We will take the final decision on whether this proposal is approved, taking into account our statutory duties to protect current and future consumers.’
Ofgem has previously expressed a preference for a ‘flexibility provider’ who ramp up or down production to local distribution services operators without additional powers.
If the proposals become law each home would require a third-generation smart meter, optionally or compulsorily, and electricity supply could be cut off without warning and without compensation to the affected households.
Nevertheless, electric vehicle owners may take comfort from the words of Graeme Cooper, Project Director for Transport Decarbonisation at the National Grid addressing some of the ‘myths’ about electric vehicles on the National Grid website back in February 2020.
Cooper stated that the National Grid had no wish to add to the traditional evening peak of electricity demand between 18.00 and 20.00. Charging, he said, would pause during this period but reassured existing and prospective owners that, ‘no matter what time you come home and plug your car in, it will charge when you need it.’