Smart charging would reduce the cost of charging electric cars and allow more vehicles to be charged without needing to upgrade network infrastructure, according to research by Ofgem.
Smart, or flexible, charging allows electric vehicles to be charged when energy prices are cheapest, such as when there is less demand across the system or when lots of electricity is available from wind and solar power.
An analysis by the energy regulator found that if owners use flexible charging, only topping up outside peak demand times on the grid, at least 60% more vehicles could be charged up compared with inflexible charging where electric vehicles are charged at peak times.
Owners would need to use ‘time of use’ tariffs available through smart meters, where the price of electricity is reduced at times when there is less strain on the electricity grid.
Flexible charging also helps to keep energy costs down for all consumers, as the technology allows stored electricity from electric vehicle batteries to be sent back onto the grid when it is needed.
Ofgem has set out proposals for reforms to provide incentives for customers to charge their electric vehicles at the right time. The changes would also allow new generators, including businesses or other organisations that want to generate their own power on-site, to get connected to the grid more quickly.
“Our reforms will help more users charge their electric vehicles and save them money,” said Jonathan Brearley, executive director of systems and networks at Ofgem.
“The proposals we have announced today will also harness the benefits of electric vehicles and other new technologies to help manage the energy system and keep costs down for all consumers.”
Ofgem plans to work with the industry to overhaul energy system rules and put the reforms in place between 2022 and 2023.