One of the key issues raised by proponents of the electric vehicle ("EV") revolution is local capacity constraints, namely the ability of owners of EV to simultaneously charge their vehicles without putting the electricity network under unnecessary pressure. The impact of such constraints will differ depending on the time of day and the area – e.g. some areas may present clusters of EVs and night – time will generally present more constraints as this is the time that most people will be at home.

A recent webinar organised by the Green Power Academy ("EVs & electricity supply: clean or dirty, current or new?") sought to highlight the reasons behind these constraints and the potential solutions.  John Massey (the presenter) argued that there are four ways of dealing with these constraints: (a) curtailment, (b) active management (c) deployment of more storage solutions at the household level and (d) deployment of a combination of solar and storage solutions at the household level.

Clearly the first solution would not appeal to EV owners, as whilst it would allow more EV owners to charge their vehicles these would not achieve 100% charge. The second option, active management would appear to more palatable, as it would allow all EV owners within an area to charge their vehicles (albeit at a slower pace). The third and fourth options are largely similar – in those instances the EV owner does not have to rely to the grid to charge their EV, they can instead use the deploy the power that has been stored in the course of the day in their battery storage system. Massey believes that in large EV clusters it would also be possible to see some energy trading taking place – where the EV owner is using electricity that has been generated (and stored) at a neighbouring house.

Active energy management is not a new concept and the roll-out of smart meters will encourage EV users (and other consumers) to engage with this even more. Only recently, Octopus Energy has announced the roll-out of a new energy tariff that will encourage consumers to use electricity when the price is low. Customers will be alerted by text, email or through a mobile app and will then be able to turn on any home appliances on and benefit from the lower tariff.

 The Energy Team at Foot Anstey is monitoring closely these developments and is always keen to help. Should you have any questions and/or insights please do get in touch - stuart.cleak@footanstey.com