back to article Watchdog calls for more plugs, less monopoly in EV charging network

The UK's competition regulator is calling for more competition, interoperability, and better reliability in the local electric vehicle (EV) charging network. In its response to the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles' (OZEV) consultation on the Rapid Charging Fund (RCF), the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) noted that an …

  1. ChoHag Silver badge

    AUA. HTH. HAND. AC? GTG.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this include Tesla?

    Unless you force His Royal Highness Elon the Magnificent to open up the Supercharger network to all right now, this proposal is as good as a wet paper bag is for holding anything other than hot air.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Does this include Tesla?

      I thought he has already done (or at least started) that.

      https://www.electrifying.com/blog/article/it-s-official-tesla-opens-up-uk-supercharger-network-to-non-tesla-drivers

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Steve Foster

      Re: Does this include Tesla?

      There are about 40 UK Supercharger locations that are now open to any CCS-equipped EV.

      As Tesla add new locations and upgrade existing sites with their latest v4 chargers, more are switching from Tesla-only to fully-open.

    3. Fursty Ferret

      Re: Does this include Tesla?

      Tesla drivers fund the Supercharger network via vehicle purchase. It's a totally different proposition. Should a random passerby have a guaranteed right to sleep in your spare room if they offer to pay towards the mortgage? No.

  3. Howard Sway Silver badge

    It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

    Which is a problem. We don't have Ford petrol and Nissan petrol and Vauxhall petrol..... the same stuff works for every car.

    We went through all this with USB standards for charging devices : the choice is to waste lots of time and money on supporting different standards, or biting the bullet and just going straight to a universal standard for all electric vehicles.

    1. Nik 2

      Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

      For most of the chargers I use, the situation is better than this suggests. I carry my charge lead with me and the Type 2 connector is the equivalent of the USB-A socket that is on the other end.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

      Which is why the EU mandated CCS for all electric cars, including Tesla.

      That bit isn't a problem. The problem is the 15 different apps you need to get all the chargers to work, and that a mobile signal isn't guaranteed to be present at the charger site.

      And also the fact that 6 chargers per service station is nowhere near sufficient. Every single parking space needs to have a charger.

      1. cookieMonster Silver badge
        Alert

        Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

        Mobile app requirements should be banned, simple credit/charge card, mobile wallet is all that’s needed

        1. Lon24

          Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

          Yes - you can buy petrol anywhere, any brand with the same debit/credit card. Actually most fast chargers on the main roads now support debit/credit cards. RFID cards & apps will soon be a museum piece except possibly for local 7kW charging.

          CCS is a problem for us pioneers with Chademo. Cars last a long time and Chademo cars are still sold in the UK so mandating their support for the foreseeable future is necessary. Though I can't see Elon (who castigated the EU over CCS) providing it on his superchargers.

          1. WonkoTheSane
            Headmaster

            Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

            Chademo cars are indeed still sold in the UK, but no longer will they be made here.

            Nissan are about to shut the Sunderland factory, to convert it to build the Leaf's CCS-equipped replacements.

            https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/reports-nissan-leaf-production-end-sunderland-week

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

              That should be true but isn’t. See https://ev-database.org/uk/car/1943/Lexus-UX-300e for a Lexus model that launched last year with Chademo

              1. Steve Foster
                Facepalm

                Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

                Lexus cars are not built here, and the UX series is probably one of the last models from Toyota where they were still in EV-denial and betting on hydrogen to get them out of their hybrid dead-end.

                Besides, they'll only sell 6 anyway...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Plug issues

            1) We should force the manufacturers to release an support enough of the technical data on the chargers for users install an upgrade kit on their vehicle. I have enough aftermarket parts on my gas vehicles that haven't hurt the manufacturer at all, the plug shouldn't be any different. And buying a new car because the plug is out of date is unrealistic and and a stupid waste.

            2) All charge points should have few AC ports at non-pirate rate to emergency charge EV's that limp in and find out they can't fast charge due (whatever damn reasons). This will provide at least some backup as the charge connector will keep changing every few years, but ALL the ev's on the market have an AC slow charge option as the lowest common denominator.

            1. Steve Foster

              Re: Plug issues

              There is a Dutch company, Muxsan, that specialise in retrofit upgrades for Nissan Leafs and the eNV-200 vans. They do battery replacements (either same size or bigger [for 1st/2nd gen models]), 2nd battery options, and a CCS upgrade (which means such vehicles can charge from either CCS or Chademo).

              They're the only one out there that I've ever come across though (and the upgrades are not cheap).

              However, it would be better if Nissan stepped up to the plate and did the right thing for their Leaf and eNV-200 owners at a reasonable price.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Plug issues

              I'm not sure I'd trust the average car modder to handle changes to a 400 volts DC system safely. Therein lies the possibility of death or "life changing injuries" if you're not careful....

        2. cyberdemon Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

          +1 for app-less, bank-card operated chargers. They should all be usable to anyone, without sign-up. Same as unmanned 'pay-at-pump' petrol forecourts.

          As for charging speed though, according to Prof David Bailey of Birmingham Business School (who knows all about electrochemistry and electrical power systems, of course) Solid State Batteries are complete game-changer, going to enable "much quicker charging"! Hybrid cars are doomed! (which is sadly a load of bollocks of course) (talking at the end of yesterday's radio 4 you&yours @ ~48mins)

          Even if SSBs could charge faster (they can't) the limiting factor is usually electricity supply. So I can't see EVs 'filling up' in minutes at megawatt rates any time soon

          1. WonkoTheSane

            Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

            I direct your attention to Chinese company Li Auto's "MEGA" luxury e-MPV, which has been tested charging at over 500kW, adding 70kWh to its battery in 10mins!

            https://youtu.be/Sf9P-jdla6U

            1. I could be a dog really Bronze badge
              Holmes

              Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

              OK, so let's say we replicate a SMALL forecourt and have (say) 6 chargers. That's 3MW. Across 3 phases, that's 1MW/phase, or a bit over 4,000A/phase.

              An existing site will have perhaps a couple of hundred A/phase tops. Now, go and ask your local DNO for a price to install a 3MW supply - but be sitting down and have a friend ready to pass the smelling salts first. At some point, the required power will exceed what the DNO will be prepares to put on it's low voltage (415V) network, and then you'll be into 11kV (or perhaps, 3.3 or 6.6kV) feeds - or at least you'll have your own transformer on site while the DNO handles the HV stuff.

              Same problem with any site wanting a number of fast chargers. People underestimate the effective energy flow rate from a fast petrol/diesel pump.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

            Even if SSBs could charge faster (they can't) the limiting factor is usually electricity supply. So I can't see EVs 'filling up' in minutes at megawatt rates any time soon

            Wouldn't be economic to have slow charging stations that take too long to charge vehicles as that wouldn't be sweating the assets enough - for example it would need a hell of a lot of forecourt if charging times are say 5x that for petrol vehicles and the loaded range is say half that of ICE, but the same applies to all the power infrastructure. Which means very fast charging is a necessity for widespread adoption, and that creates a requirement for intermediate buffering storage. The idea of local storage of energy is exactly what a modern petrol station is, so burying some intermediate storage isn't going to be a big deal. There's already been trial developments of intermediate storage of charging EVs, so we know this is feasible. On a production basis that sort of buffering creates a storage asset that can charge when prices are optimal, can offer flexible demand to the grid, and even offer grid input under certain circumstances. It will of course be very expensive, but the whole net zero caper is wildly expensive.

      2. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

        "the 15 different apps you need to get all the chargers to work"

        Why need an app at all? I buy petrol at a service station and go to the kiosk counter to pay (cash or card). Suppose a disabled person physically can't use a "smart" phone, does that mean they'd never be able to charge (and therefore own) an EV? Surely that breaches disability discrimination legislation.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

          You don't any more - because chargers are required to accept contactless.

          Even Tesla are introducing contactless on their V4 chargers.

          Of course you're welcome to use an app if you want, and some distribution networks might offer you a better rate for doing so.

          I have a couple of charge cards in my car, but they're just RFID tap and go - paying on an app isn't the biggest issue facing disabled EV drivers, the obsession with kerbs to "protect" the chargers is far more difficult for far more people.

          The other is the lack of accessible spaces around chargers, and the solution is either to provision enough that only blue badge holders use the accessible ones, or they are *all* accessible.

        2. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

          Indeed -- Here in the US, fuel pump nozzle form factors are dictated by the government (largely to discourage the drunk,or distracted from dumping a load of diesel into their gasoline vehicle) , And pay at the pump with a credit card is ubiquitous. I can't recall the last time I had to seek out and pay an attendant/cashier. It was years ago. There is often a provision at the pump for those who belong to the vendor's exclusive club to log in and receive some sort of benefit -- a small discount? Brownie points of some sort? Why on Earth, other than utter regulatory idiocy, should EV chargers be different?

          And while we are on the subject of regulatory lapse, should not all this have been hashed out and settled years before legislators set out on a probably futile quest for "Net-Zero" using a tool kit (only wind,solar -- neither of which are dispatchable -- and a handful of minor technologies are the proper shade of green apparently) that certainly appears to be quite inadequate? FWIW, I expect that Net-zero will prove to be as elusive as the Holy Grail was in Arthurian times.

      3. Dave Pickles

        Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

        Why can't chargers work like ATMs?

        I don't need an account with every bank to get cash from their ATM. The money is taken from my home account.

        The electricity companies could issue an electricity debit card; energy I extract from a roadside charger is added to my home electricity bill at the same cost as if I had plugger the car in at home.

        Obviously the charger supplier will have to be paid, this could be done on a time basis in the same way as car parking.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

          They do.

        2. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

          Your bank already issues you with such a card. The amount would be added to your credit card bill rather than your electricity bill, but is that a problem?

          1. Dave Pickles

            Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

            The idea is to allow those who cannot charge at home to pay the same price for electricity as those who can. As noted they would also have to pay for the parking space separately.

            1. cyberdemon Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

              People who charge at home often pay a heavily subsidised rate 7p/kWh apparently) whereas general domestic utility price is more like 30p/kWh. Wholesale price that chargepoint operators pay is somewhere in the middle, and charging infrastructure is a big expense, paid for by bankers expecting a return on investment.

              Then there's the inconvenient fact that fast charging is inefficient. Both chargers and battery (and sometimes even the cable) need active cooling at >50kW rates.

              So without a severe rebalancing / reversal of taxpayer/billpayer subsidies, EV charging is always going to be more expensive at a fast charger station.

              For a slow charger, the charging is cheap but the parking is expensive.

              The second problem with "slow" ~10kW public chargers is that they usually do not have a dedicated HV substation, and rely on existing heavily-strained 415V underground cabling shared with domestic and light commercial premises. It's increasingly common to see overheating transformers and cables, e.g. that recent incident near the Old Bailey

              So increasing the numbers beyond 10% minority adoption, never mind "net zero" numbers is not trivial at all

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

                "People who charge at home often pay a heavily subsidised rate 7p/kWh apparently)"

                Not subsidised, it's just a time of day tariff, as have been available for many decades, because electricity prices fluctuate throughout the day - even going negative.

                My off peak rate is 7.5p, but my peak rate is substantially higher (spent much of last year at 40p), and my standing charge is a little higher than the "standard" rate flat tariff. That encourages me to use energy when the grid has more than it needs, and to *not* use energy when the grid is strained.

                "Then there's the inconvenient fact that fast charging is inefficient. Both chargers and battery (and sometimes even the cable) need active cooling at >50kW rates."

                It's not inconvenient, it's just how charging works - the efficiency is actually pretty high though, even with the various wireless interfaces which are being developed.

                Typically a home charger will be ~90% efficient (slightly lower for 10A chargers), and that efficiency is maintained for DC charging - partly because the rectifier in the on board charger is usually one of the least efficient steps in the chain. Yes, you need to actively cool when you're pushing hundreds of kW, but that really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. It's another argument for not waiting beyond 80% on a long journey charger - the efficiency does drop when the SOC is over 80%.

                "EV charging is always going to be more expensive at a fast charger station."

                Of course it will be - you have a fairly expensive bit of hardware to pay for. An AC EVSE is just a relay with some safety comms around it.

                It's not that long ago that most houses were burning 5-600 watts in light bulbs alone... we're using way less electricity now than we used to 80TWh less than 2005 in fact. That enough for more than 40 million EVs.

                1. cyberdemon Silver badge
                  Devil

                  Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

                  > Not subsidised, it's just a time of day tariff, as have been available for many decades, because electricity prices fluctuate throughout the day - even going negative.

                  It bloody well IS subsidised! How much do we have to pay those windfarms to stop running when the wind is blowing? So much that even Ofgem has rolled out of its bed. The only reason the wholesale price occasionally goes negative is so that NG doesn't have to pay so much in curtailment costs! But that is rarely passed on to the consumer, certainly never "decades" ago as you say..

                  I don't really see what a rectifier has got to do with it.. A bridge rectifier drops 2x 0.7V, plus minimal resistive losses.. And nevertheless a fast charger is still plugged in to 415V AC, so needs its own rectifier anyway ...

                  LED lightbulbs ... often quoted as an example of how energy efficiency is somehow an unstoppable trend, but it's bollocks. Especially if someone is using electric heating, for example. But even if not, the "waste" heat from their lightbulbs would previously have warmed them up enough to not need to stoke up the coal fire. Now, we have all these wonderfully efficient LEDs which produce no infrared and ironically cause people to turn on their gas-fired central heating because they feel cold.

                  1. John Robson Silver badge

                    Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

                    "It bloody well IS subsidised!"

                    No it's not - it's a commercial rate which is available to anyone - it's not a subsidised rate.

                    E7/E10 have had this concept for decades, and I've been on a variety of those tariffs over the years - I am on one at the moment.

                    Negative pricing happens when supply exceeds demand - that's usually because demand is low (overnight) and supply is up - and it's always been passed on to some consumers, but domestic retail customers haven't had the metering equipment to allow for them to take advantage of the fluctuations in the price on the grid. Now we do have that capability, and there are tariffs which track the wholesale cost of electricity.

                    Imagine if we have EVs rolled out - you'd never need to curtail output at a wind farm again, never need to pay to adjust supply to match demand, you can just encourage demand - energy draw can be decoupled from energy usage.

                    The rectifier in an EV on board charger is generally one of the least efficient parts of the charging system, those which are designed to push 350+kW are usually more efficient, they are less weight and packaging constrained.

                    "LED lightbulbs ... often quoted as an example of how energy efficiency is somehow an unstoppable trend, but it's bollocks. Especially if someone is using electric heating, for example. But even if not, the "waste" heat from their lightbulbs would previously have warmed them up enough to not need to stoke up the coal fire. Now, we have all these wonderfully efficient LEDs which produce no infrared and ironically cause people to turn on their gas-fired central heating because they feel cold."

                    Ah yes, the "but sometimes" defense. It is better to use a more efficient lighting system, and an efficient heating system.

                    If I replace 10 100W light bulbs with 5W LEDs then I have 950W of heat less in my house. However I can run a heat pump and only need to use 300W of electricity to get 950W of heat, so my total consumption of electricity has gone down by about 2/3rds and I am exactly as comfortable as I was. Though in the summer, and indeed most of the year, I'll actually have taken my energy consumption down from 1000W to 50W, that's a 95% reduction. So averaged across the year my electricity consumption is down by probably 80%, with no change in comfort.

                    No the "but for some of the year the waste is actually useful" isn't a defense. Even if I used a purely resistive electrical heating system, I'd still be better off, because all the time when I have lights on but don't need heating, I wouldn't be running the heating.

                    1. Lurko

                      Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

                      "It bloody well IS subsidised!" No it's not - it's a commercial rate which is available to anyone - it's not a subsidised rate.

                      Actually the very low off peak rates are neither directly subsidised, nor purely commercial. They are an artefact of cost allocation in the electricity system, and that's down to a mix of demand/supply/timing, but also choices on how grid, distribution and overhead costs are recovered, and those choices are based largely on historic practice dating back to the days of the CEGB and a coal powered grid. Most system costs are recovered against peak demand, and that is a choice rather than a natural law. Similar ideas apply in the wholesale generation market (price to clear within settlement period), as well as constraint payments to renewables, both of which result in higher costs to consumers as well as amplifying the spread between peak and off peak. It needs to be understood that the whole energy system is purely policy-driven, and doesn't act as any form of unfettered market, and government attempts to make it a market are based on constraining choices in the market to the things politicians want.

                      Of course, the current concept of off peak pricing is something that will become much more difficult to sustain if the current ambitions to increase EV charging and electrification of heating continue. If through increasing off peak demand, and better use of flexibility then the demand curve becomes far flatter, then supporting a 4-5x multiple between peak and off peak simply isn't justified. Yes, there's need for payment to flexible demand/generation but that's not going to help much for EV charging that has to happen overnight, or heat pumps that because of slow response times and heat demand profiles are very inflexible without expensive storage.

                      1. John Robson Silver badge

                        Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

                        "Of course, the current concept of off peak pricing is something that will become much more difficult to sustain if the current ambitions to increase EV charging and electrification of heating continue. If through increasing off peak demand, and better use of flexibility then the demand curve becomes far flatter, then supporting a 4-5x multiple between peak and off peak simply isn't justified. Yes, there's need for payment to flexible demand/generation but that's not going to help much for EV charging that has to happen overnight, or heat pumps that because of slow response times and heat demand profiles are very inflexible without expensive storage."

                        EV charging doesn't have to happen overnight - there are approximately 23 hours a day when a typical EV isn't in use.

                        Yes - we need chargers everywhere, but especially with V2G an EV should always be connected to the grid when not in motion.

                        Heat pumps are also somewhat flexible - there is an ongoing demand during the day, but taking an hour or so off shouldn't significantly affect comfort, and will make a significant dent in instant demand. We can also pre warm places at the end of any low demand period. But if you have a car at home when you need your heating - than the idea is that you plug the car in, and it can power your heating if the grid is at peak load... the model is very different, and the ability to shift demand to match supply rather than the other way round substantially changes how things operate.

                        We won't have a static peak/off peak, but that's already going away, we have the ability to have dynamic costs with half hourly meters - I have a cheap rate which applies for some hours overnight, and then also at any time my supplier chooses - I also have an export tariff, although that is static at the moment.

                        My supplier could also (given permission) talk to my car, my EVSE, my home battery... and automate all of those things to ensure that the cost of supplying me is as low as it can be, indeed it can also make supplying other people cheaper for them.

                    2. cyberdemon Silver badge
                      Pint

                      Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

                      > it's not a subsidised rate.

                      It's subsidised via the litany of wonky markets that the UK has set up. Who decides how much money the wind farms get when we tell them to turn off? If that arbitrary amount of money were lower, would the night rates not be flatter? But if it were lower, then the windfarms would have less incentive to build... It's a subsidy. An indirect one, but a subsidy nonetheless.

                      The same with the other bonkers markets designed to slosh public money into the trough.. Who pays the CfDs? NGESO does (i.e. we do). Who pays the capacity market? NGESO does. (we do). Who pays Drax's tree-burning subsidies? (we do). Who pays for the carbon credits? (we do). Who pays the curtailment costs? (we do). Ofgem invents all these "markets" and pretends that it's free-market economics in action. It isn't, It's just a less-efficient form of subsidy, and one that's harder to follow the money to find any corruption that may lie behind it.

                      Also, many tariffs are directly subsidised by other tax/bill payers, and i'd be surprised if you weren't using one with your eco green set-up. Heat Pump tariffs for example where a portion of your HP usage is subtracted from your bill.. Solar feed-in tariffs, v2g tariffs, DFS events, these are all directly susbsidised.

                      > Imagine if we have EVs rolled out - you'd never need to curtail output at a wind farm again

                      Except we still would, because we have a massive transmission bottleneck, especially between England and Scotland. How do we get NGESO to build more pylons? Apparently we can't, because the nimby's don't like them, so we will invent another market for companies to build subsea HVDC links instead e.g. the recently approved Eastern Green Link and the 80-odd GW of projects waiting for approval. They are very expensive, unreliable, prone to sabotage, they don't contribute to synchronous stability of the grid (if anything they destabilise it and cause islanding), but who cares, we have outsourced all of that risk to the private sector, right? As usual the economists have ruined everything.

                      > but sometimes..

                      In a hot country where most people use Air Conditioning, then LED lights are a massive win. In the UK, we have our heating on for most of the year and turn it off for a few months in summer when it stops raining.. You might have no change in comfort, but that's because you have a thermostat.. When you have no extra heat sources, your heat pump has to run harder to maintain your setpoint, so you don't get a 95% reduction even if you really did have 10x 100W bulbs on all at once and have replaced them with 5W LEDs.. (btw I find that a 5W LED is nowhere near sufficient to replace a 100W bulb, I need at least 15W) and the crest factor on those LEDs is abysmal. You may find that your smart meter charges you more for a 15W LED than a 100W incandescent, because the peak current is higher.

                      Your heat pump may have a COP of 3, but due to inefficiencies, costs and dodgy deals in the generation, transmission and balancing/settlement systems, your electricity costs 3 times more than gas anyway, (at the times when you need heating, at least). So might as well get a gas boiler and be done with it.

                      I'm not saying it's nothing, i'm saying it's marginal, and IMHO not worth the extra faff from a heat pump, LEDs, EVs, smart meters etc. They can pry my Bakolite electromechanical watthour-meter from my cold dead hands.

                      Anyway, always a pleasure arguing with you Mr Robson. Have dome upvotes and an e-pint :)

                      1. John Robson Silver badge

                        Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

                        The market isn't a subsidy - though I agree that it is distorted. But some of those distortions are deliberate. The biggest distortion is that the cost of electricity is so tightly tied to the price of gas.

                        "Also, many tariffs are directly subsidised by other tax/bill payers, and i'd be surprised if you weren't using one with your eco green set-up. Heat Pump tariffs for example where a portion of your HP usage is subtracted from your bill.. Solar feed-in tariffs, v2g tariffs, DFS events, these are all directly susbsidised."

                        DFS isn't a direct subsidy - it's actively cheaper to pay people not to use energy (and this year to return energy to the grid) than it is to pay to warm up and then start generating from an additional power station.

                        I don't have a feed in tariff, or any tariff where some usage is subtracted - I have what's now called Intelligent Octopus Go, with a flexible gas tariff and a fixed export tariff. So I get six hours of off peak energy (good for things like the dishwasher and my storage heater), as well as any other times when it's advantageous for Octopus to charge my car at a different time of day.

                        Doing those few simple things means that over 80 percent of my electricity usage in February was from "low carbon" sources (based on my actual energy consumption compared with the national numbers from https://app.electricitymaps.com/zone/GB) - that includes a small proportion from my PV array. January was ~70%, December about 80%... summer will be much better. That doesn't calculate any "discount" based on exported energy.

                        The grid is pretty robust, and we have twenty years to increase capacity in those areas which need it most, and those areas are already known to the grid. inverter technology has improved to the point where we are not limited by sheer tonnage providing grid stability any more - one of the Australian grids are running trials last time I checked (though they still use non generating syncros if I recall correctly, and have a couple of small plants always warm).

                        Even in the UK LEDs are a massive win, my (midlands) heating is off for at least six months of the year looking at last year's gas usage figures - so fully half the time that heat is wasted... so a 90% reduction in energy usage is achieved. "But sometimes" isn't a good reason to leave things inefficient. You don't eat an elephant in one bite, you take it a spoonful at a time - LEDs are an easy win.

                        A heat pump COP of 3 wouldn't be considered good - and my calculations (based on 70k lines of raw meter data) are that even assuming that my boiler is 100% efficient (it won't be, it's a condenser boiler that's just shy of twenty years old) and I were to replace it with a heat pump with a SCOP of 3 (I would hope to significantly exceed that), and my heating electricity costs are at peak rate (I can do better than that) then I'd be a few hundred pounds a year cheaper with a heat pump than a boiler.

                        To be equivalent to a gas boiler in other terms I'd need the overall COP to be ~0.9 to match the efficiency of a good boiler - and even accounting for the <10% losses in the grid, and the ~50% loss in conversion at a power station... you'd need a "local" COP of under 2 (which would be _appalling_) to get to the stage where you "may as well use gas".

                        "Anyway, always a pleasure arguing with you Mr Robson. Have some upvotes and an e-pint :)"

                        Discussing, surely... ;)

                        \_/ \_/

                2. David Hicklin Bronze badge

                  Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

                  >> used to 80TWh less than 2005 in fact. That enough for more than 40 million EVs.

                  Problem is that they have been shutting down the older Nuclear and just about all the coal power stations, so that capacity has shrunk to match

                  1. John Robson Silver badge

                    Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

                    The grid itself can deal - we will need to increase generation, but the transition is going to take another twenty years or so, it's not happening overnight.

                    I'd like to see micro reactors at every service station as a starter:

                    - already good grid connections

                    - close enough to populated areas, but out of nimby zone

                    - substantial local demand as EV journeys increase

                    - distributed generation, with slightly increased rates near population areas.

                    We don't need to limit them to those ~100 locations either, but they'd be a good starting point. And it's one thing I hope that the hyper-scalers who are currently looking how to power their next generation of data centres can actually accomplish as a net positive.

                    But more generation of various (preferably zero carbon) sources is always going to be needed, because a substantial amount of our primary energy consumption isn't electrical yet. Of course there will also be some savings from not having run refineries etc - but that's relatively small beans.

                    When I say preferably zero carbon... if we took petrol that was delivered to the pump and instead burnt it in a power station, using that electricity to charge EVs... we'd get more miles out of it than we would have done by using it in ICEvs - and as we continue to decarbonise the grid, all of those EVs get "cleaner" every step of the way. It's also relatively easy to implement CCS at a few power stations rather than across a fleet of cars - and of course the air quality where people live would be far higher.

                    Shutting down coal is a good thing, not replacing them with other sources is the mistake - although we've had a very significant drop in demand... so if you had replaced them... then there would be power stations sitting idle.

    3. Steve Foster

      Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

      It mostly is. CCS is the predominant connector, trailled by Chademo and proprietary connectors (early Tesla, mainly). Tesla and the USA are mucking about trying to establish a new standard there (NACS, I think it's called) for no obviously important reason (except perhaps N-I-H syndrome).

      In the EU and UK at least, any new model launched today will have CCS.

      All the CPOs are deploying CCS chargers now (some with Chademo as well, but in fewer and fewer numbers).

      1. WonkoTheSane
        Headmaster

        Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

        NACS IS the early Tesla connector

        1. Captain TickTock

          Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

          In UK/EU, older Teslas use a bastardised type2 to do DC rapid charging. They have an extra bit to prevent you plugging it intio a non tesla

      2. Captain TickTock

        Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

        UK/EU has CCS2, an improvement on CCS1, which is what they have in the US, and are gradually dumping for Tesla's 'NACS' connector

    4. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

      Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

      And payment is the next pain-point.

      With hydrocarbon based stations, you can pay cash, using your bank card or by credit card.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank

        And in EV world you pay by:

        - Bank/Credit Card, or

        - RFID card/App, or

        - The car deals with it entirely and you don't need to do anything other plug in

        The only one that isn't generally available is cash, but I can't recall the last time I paid for *anything* using cash, so that's a small benefit.

        I'm yet to see any of the major chains use the ANPR to automate petrol payment from people with accounts.

  4. xyz Silver badge

    Meh... Either way

    The charging cables will get nicked. Even at a quid a cable at a scrappy, I reckon a team of 4 can bag 1.5K GBP each over an 8 hour shift if they go at it.

    1. storner

      Re: Meh... Either way

      Fast-charging stations use cables that are firmly bolted onto the charging station, so nicking those means robbing the entire charger. Good luck with that, given the power it is connected to.

      Low-power cables (your typical 11k-22kW or less cable) are usually locked to the car. You can probably (given enough force) rip them from the connector of the car, but it is not something that you just pick up when passing by.

      1. Steve Foster

        Re: Meh... Either way

        Cable theft from rapid and ultra-rapid chargers is a problem, mainly in the north-west of England. Thieving sods are just hacking or chopping the cables off, rendering the chargers unusable. The cables are not live until an EV is plugged in, so unfortunately the scrotes are not at risk of electrocution.

    2. Lon24

      Re: Meh... Either way

      Slicing through an active 50kW (or even 7kW) cable may be the last slice you do. Petrol pump hoses may be safer for non-smokers ;-)

      Type 2 are locked safely in the boot when not active. And in 5 years fast charging and seeing many dead chargers I've never seen one without a cable.

      1. WonkoTheSane
        Headmaster

        Re: Meh... Either way

        Then you haven't been looking.

        The cable is only energised when charging a car, so there's no electrocution risk for thieves.

      2. Lurko

        Re: Meh... Either way

        "Slicing through an active 50kW (or even 7kW) cable may be the last slice you do."

        The inventiveness and ingenuity of cable thieves is going to come as a surprise to some people. It's already common enough for the dishonest to tap into live distribution cables to steal electricity for weed farms, and that means cutting into 400V three phase circuits supplying hundreds of properties, there's even a growing trend of stealing live distribution cables. The UK cable theft "market" is worth perhaps £100m a year around (and far more in costs to asset owners), the crims are not giving up on that.

        The higher the current, the higher the scrap value of the cable. With EVs they'll come up with ways to either trip the charger, or simply insulate the crim wielding the angle grinder.

    3. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Meh... Either way

      So in 8 hours you reckon a team of four could cut 6 thousand cables... that's a little under five seconds per cable.

      Factoring in time to move between cables, as well as cutting time I think you're wildly optimistic.

      Of course vandalism is an issue anywhere - but I've not come across a snipped charging cable, whilst I acknowledge that it is possible... I doubt it will be for scrap. It will be because people are bored, or started off the evening drinking petrol.

  5. HandleBaz

    Not a real problem

    "It is still not as simple as pulling up in a forecourt and filling up a tank"

    Except that it kind of is. It might require a minimum of planning on your part, but nothing insurmountable.

    EV's are more common in Norway than the GB, so we have more infrastructure, but even long drives are not really a problem.

    Eg this summer me and my friend drove almost 800 km to visit our other friends cabin. He picked me up at my house which is about 6 hour in to the 12 hour drive.

    We charged his Kia out of my wall charger, which topped it off over night. It didn't require charging before the return journey, and the charging was done while we went grocery shopping at the local store.

    It did not require charging before he got home, some 8 hours and 650 km later.

    My father has an EV and a hybrid, he's not been at a gas station for months.

    The only time he needs to use a fast charger is when going on vacation. A quick 15 min stop at a service station every 4-5 hours is a good idea anyway.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Not a real problem

      In many ways it's even simpler than filling up a tank. And for some vehicle/charger combinations it's far simpler.

      Whilst the tesla is the most famous version other brands also have "plug and charge" capabilities on various networks - so you drive up, plug in, go to the loo, come back, unplug, drive off.

      Yet to see that level of convenience from a liquid fuel station.

      You also cannot put the wrong kind of electrons into the vehicle - unlike putting petrol into a diesel tank (which is fairly easy since the petrol nozzle is smaller than the diesel one).

      You can't spill the electrons, they don't smell, they don't make everything around the charger smell of electrons, they don't get deposited over the charge connector due to the vapour escaping the filler cap - thus ending up on your hands and clothes...

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Not a real problem

        How long do you spend in the loo? And no, I don't associate stopping at Waitrose for 30l of fuel with that sort of convenience.

        Nozzle selection issues? Been driving for long enough to realise what size and colour my nozzle is.

        Much cleaner and safer to refuel - that's a tick. But paying three times the market price for the same electrons as feed my house is not reasonable (before you say it, that includes their charges for that infrastructure too). And just wait for the screams when the 65%(ish) fuel duties currently levied on petrol and diesel is transferred to charger stations ...! This does unfairly hit the less well off, those who live in rented properties, above the ground floor or with no off-road parking who physically or economically can't have chargers fitted to their homes.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Not a real problem

          Well, I have to get the wheelchair out, then wheel down to the service station, navigate to the loos which always seem to be at the far end of a slalom/obstacle course of all the shops "extra display" space and food outlets... Then I go to the loo and have to do the same in reverse.

          Can easily take 15 minutes.

          Wrong fuel is something ~150 thousand motorists do each year, and that's those who get it wrong enough to need help.

    2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Not a real problem

      People don't realise running a hybrid on stale fuel isn't a good idea. "I haven't filled up for a year" means I'm running of fuel with an no ethanol left, throwing more crap into the atmosphere than a normal engine because of incomplete combustion and varnishing up the internals of the engine ...

      Refill a hybrid little and often ...

  6. Binraider Silver badge

    So, introduce a British Standard 1-ph and 3-ph car charger; mandatory for fitting to all UK plugins.

    The same approach worked well for domestic plugs.

    We probably already have such a thing from the milk floats; though I rarely need to dive into BS standards when IEC dominates my own particular field.

    1. WonkoTheSane
      Headmaster

      We already use the almost global CCS2 connector.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        If that's true, why do charging terminals have 4 or 5 different plugs on em.

        Establishing standards is the only way to get uptake. See VHS / BetaMax or HD-DVD/BD-ROM for examples of what happens when you DONT set up a standard.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Sometimes the only way forward is JFDI and you end up with competing standards. In the longer time scale things sort themselves out.

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          They don't.

          There are typically only two plugs you might find in the UK (and all across the EU):

          - Type 2 CCS This is DC fast charging, and is the standard

          - Chademo This was an early DC standard, still widely used in Japan, but only used by (some) Nissan vehicles in the UK

          You might rarely see a Type2 tethered cable at some of the older gridserve units - these tend to supply high power AC charging, effectively only used by some early Renault Zoes.

          The final option is a type2 socket, for destination charging - low power AC charging for use when you are actively doing something else.

        3. Captain TickTock

          There at most 3 types, type2, (AC) CCS2 (type2 + 2 chunky dc pins) and chademo. That's all.

          Type2 and CCS2 are the standard

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      That would be type 2 - which has pins for both 1 and 3 phase AC.

      We even have the CCS extension, which adds two beefy pins to take care of DC charging at up to 350kW.

      The only other cables really seen in the UK are chademo, which has some benefits (built in bidirectional charging being the main one), but it's going extinct.

      There will continue to be a few chademo equipped chargers at many locations for a long time yet. The trick is to choose a CCS only charger if you can, then the chademo driver can access the appropriate charger without you having to move.

  7. Tron Silver badge

    This may become a much bigger problem, not a smaller one.

    At the moment, most cars out there are ICE. None of my neighbours have EVs. I hardly ever see one. For every EV out there in the UK, there are more than 30 ICE vehicles. And they are not evenly spread. In some parts of the country there may be 1 EV to 100+ ICE.

    If EVs ever do actually become universal, that means millions more of them. The ratio for cars : charging points would become much more problematic, not less.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: This may become a much bigger problem, not a smaller one.

      Except that every building can be a charging point... Public charging will always be a minority activity for most drivers.

      The vast majority will charge at home, and many of the rest will charge at work.

      You then get into what I'd consider the most important bit of public charging, but that isn't being built out yet - supermarkets/shopping centres/restaurants/cinema... .whatever - all of those places should have dozens of AC chargers, which most people won't need to use, but those who don't have easy access elsewhere will use them, it's far cheaper to distribute AC at a reasonable rate...

  8. munnoch Bronze badge

    Home charging is worse

    Slightly OT. I'm about to get a plug in hybrid so I thought I'd research tariffs and home chargers. Conclusion, its a complete and utter shit-show.

    Octopus and OVO are the only ones that seem to offer a proper EV tariff. Everyone else does a sort of Economy 7 style offering where your whole house gets some cheap electrons overnight and your EV benefits as a side-effect.

    The problem seems to be communications between the different bits. Octo/OVO only offer their tariffs to those with particular cars or chargers. Presumably the ones they have built a back-end link into.

    Ohme seem to be one of the better supported charger manufacturers but their chargers *only* communicate over 3/4G, which they subsides for 3 years (then what?). If you don't have a signal in your designated charging spot then you are stuffed. No cheap charging for you. Would it be that hard to put wifi on it?

    But fundamentally *why* does the charger need to call home to report its usage? Isn't this exactly what Smart (sic.) Meters were supposed to solve? Isn't this what the open standards, like OSCP, are all about? Why do the charlatan energy retailers even need to be involved? Then there are limitations like you can't use the solar charge function when you are on one of these tarriffs. Why not have both? This is all fucked up at a really fundamental level.

    A home charger is not a cheap piece of kit (although it ought to be because there is basically *nothing* inside it, its not a charger, its an on/off switch, the charger is built-into the car). Inevitably there will be consolidation in the market so a non-zero risk you end up with a white elephant in the not too distant future when the horse you backed goes out of business and your "smart" charger becomes a "dumb" charger and your cost to run your car goes up several fold.

    And yes my new, to me, car has a ChaDeMo connector for public charging. So, great, those will soon be like rocking horse poo since the chances of new build charging infrastructure being backwards compatible with the existing user base is approximately zero.

    Just a couple of the many insanities in the frantic rush to net-nothing. Our esteemed masters demonstrating their usual level of critical thinking.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Home charging is worse

      Octopus Go doesn't need any comms, Octopus Inteligent Go does.

      The fact that the all home chargers don't come with WiFi and/or ethernet is verging on unforgivable.

      "But fundamentally *why* does the charger need to call home to report its usage? Isn't this exactly what Smart (sic.) Meters were supposed to solve? "

      It's not reporting usage - it's being told when to charge the car... I say how much energy I want by what time, and then my energy supplier picks the cheapest charging times available - I also measure the usage directly and use that information to control other devices to take advantage of the additional cheap rate power.

      My original EVSE's "smarts" never worked, I simply put a small relay in so it's now a *much* smarter unit than it ever was before - they have a little bit of safety checks, which is worth something, and a decent relay to hook the car directly to 240vAC.

      I don't think Chademo will be rocking horse manure for a while - current deployments do still have chademo connections on at least some units. We do however need to educate people that they shouldn't use the limited number with those connectors when there are CCS only units available.

      1. munnoch Bronze badge

        Re: Home charging is worse

        Octopus Go is one of the fixed time cheap tariffs. Only 4 hours off peak over-night so shortest of all the big suppliers. Go Intelligent is the one that lets you charge any time at a cheaper rate but needs the back-end link.

        Still think all of this should be mediated through the smart meter. The retailer should be able to push spot pricing out to the meter at any time and the car charger (and other large appliances) should be able to interrogate the meter to find out whether or not the price is below a threshold and if so then suck it up. You get the demand management for free that way. Price goes up, loads start dropping out.

        Whether the common man as opposed to the early adopters will be able to or willing to deal with the complexity and uncertainty remains to be seen. You'd really need a ladder of price points and your appetite to consume at each, its not trivial, and ideally you advertise your appetite to the retailer so they can plan ahead. I suppose Go Intelligent is an attempt at this.

        If the meter isn't going to be in charge of all this then I fail to understand what we are spending billions rolling them out for. A very nice nearly retired chap from Morrison's Meter Services comes round to take my readings every couple of months. I don't think making him redundant is enough to justify the exercise.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Home charging is worse

          Smart meters don't connect to homes... they only connect to the network operators.

          And they aren't constantly connected either.

          But there is no reason your charger shouldn't be able to query some standard API for the current spot price - or your car, or you home automation system.

          Oh, look - you can use Octopus Agile, know what the prices are the day before and automatically enable charging when the price is low enough.

          Saying that intelligent "lets you charge at any time" is a bit misleading - it gives you more off peak hours, and potentially gives you some additional hours as well, depending on the grid (yes there are ways to game it, but that's going to get shut down at some point).

          Getting the smart meter enables half hourly billing - that's what enables the tariffs above. They're not smart at all, they're just half hourly meters rather than "once a quarter, maybe" meters.

          And "Whether the common man as opposed to the early adopters will be able to or willing to deal with the complexity and uncertainty remains to be seen."

          There doesn't need to be complexity. You say "I want between 50 and 90% each morning by 8 am" and the car/charger do the rest.

          That's not complicated. I appreciate that I am particularly interested in my energy consumption - 70 thousand rows of data in my tracking spreadsheet attest to that - but the *vast* majority of the savings that has brought (which are substantial) would be achieved by a similar setup (I might change the EV charger, or slightly change where it's wired) requiring no setup further than "make sure I have this range each morning" on the EV, and "these are my cheap hours" on the battery. The complexity for me is that the charger could draw power from the battery as it's configured at the moment, and that's pretty obviously a bad idea.

          1. munnoch Bronze badge

            Re: Home charging is worse

            "They're not smart at all, they're just half hourly meters rather than "once a quarter, maybe" meters."

            If that's the extent of the aspiration then what a terrible missed opportunity. The meters do have a wireless interface (Zigbee, Xwave?) that lets then talk to the house, thats how the little counter-top monitor works.

            We know that in the future demand management is going to be a necessity to keep the network stable. Price will be one of the inputs into that. So plug it in and let it do its thing overnight could leave you with a nasty shock in the morning.

            If the "smart" aspect of managing that is left in the hands of individual product manufacturers and electricity retailers then we will end up with a horrible spaghetti mess that will be virtually impossible to navigate. As evidenced by assumptions like you will have a mobile signal at your charge point in order to enable the backhaul.

            For me its not a big deal. I'm pretty flexible on when and how I travel, but I think we'll see a lot of bleeding hearts in the future complaining about being gouged for EV charging both at home and at public chargers.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Home charging is worse

              "If that's the extent of the aspiration then what a terrible missed opportunity"

              Yep - the internal networking is deliberately disabled, presumably because if there isn't a network, then there isn't a hackable surface.

              Having something which does that translation into the network is useful, and having APIs which whatever your chosen "hub" can talk to is useful.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Home charging is worse

          "If the meter isn't going to be in charge of all this then I fail to understand what we are spending billions rolling them out for."

          Because while it's currently cheaper to charge at home and a very few energy providers offer methods to make it even cheaper, at some stage the governemnt is going to want to replace all that lost fuel duty currently paid on petrol and diesel.

          The VED or "road tax" starts for EVs next year;

          New zero-emission cars registered on or after 1 April 2025 will be liable to pay the lowest first-year rate of VED (which applies to vehicles with CO2 emissions 1 to 50g/km) currently £10 a year.

          From the second year of registration onwards, they will move to the standard rate, currently £180 a year

          Zero emission cars first registered between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2025 will also pay the standard rate

          So, expect some form of "duty" or surcharge when charging an EV, even at home, and smart meters being mandatory.

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Home charging is worse

      This is nothing to do with net nothing. It’s just what happens when “smart home” is interpreted by manufacturers to mean “works with other stuff made by us”

      You should be able to connect any smart charger to your home network, have it register on a control interface made by a different manufacturer and any other kit that cares, including PV panels, hot water heater, and whatever box your power company gave you. That’s the dream. Instead we have software and hardware lock-in. It’s like the pre-open systems days. Before UNIX. Dark times.

      Of course there are systems to manage this, eg openhab (and I ended up writing my own). But they shouldn’t be necessary.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Home charging is worse

        Yep - local connections should be standard.

        And the APIs should interact nicely...

        Smart meters should at least be able to do something like pushing MQTT messages out - I'd like my Octopus Mini to do that in fact...

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: Home charging is worse

          There is exactly one smart meter display available to purchase that will do exactly that. Google "Hildebrand Go" - I can confirm the MQTT output works nicely. £90 or thereabouts last I checked.

    3. chriskno

      Re: Home charging is worse

      "So, great, those will soon be like rocking horse poo since the chances of new build charging infrastructure being backwards compatible with the existing user base is approximately zero." Actually not so. I've had my Leaf for 5 and a half years and am delighted with how much easier it is to charge on the public networks now. Invariably the new charging stations are including Chademo chargers.

  9. Mr D Spenser

    I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

    The comments others have made pretty much sums up my take on electric vehicles. I believe they are the future, but the convenience of charging and paying for charging needs to match current expectations. Until then I might get something to use as a secondary car I can charge at home for short jaunts, but not my primary vehicle.

    1. John Robson Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

      Do get one as a secondary vehicle - be interesting to see how quickly it becomes your first choice vehicle, and the ICEv gets "reserved" for specific journeys.

      If you use a 10A charger, that's ~2kW, for four hours (The shortest "off peak" I'm aware of) then that's ~8kWh/day, which is ~30 miles/day. That's already more than the average car does in the UK, and the "surplus" means you gradually top the battery off during the week...

      I do think that it's the way most people will end with BEVs - get one as a run around and realise that they're actually more practical than they'd thought.

      1. Duncan Macdonald
        FAIL

        Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

        Remember a huge number of UK vehicle owners do not have dedicated off street parking. For these people charging at home is difficult or impossible. The cost per kWh at public charge points is far higher than the cheap off peak rates available for people who can charge at home and the higher charge rates reduce battery lifespan.

        A further point - there is NO WAY that the UK mains electricity supply can handle the replacement of a significant proportion of the current ICE vehicles with EVs. Locations with a number of high power charge points will probably need to install their own diesel generator to handle the load - and if they do then the "NO EMISSIONS" part of EV advertising rings rather hollow.

        Current UK peak electricity demand is just short of 50GW (50,000,000,000 watts) and the UK population is a bit over 67 million giving a current average peak electricity consumption per person of under 750 watts (total peak load divided by population). Charging EVs at home even using a basic 3kW charge rate (ordinary UK mains plug) adds the equivalent of 4 extra people per EV while charging. Replacing just 10% of the current ICE cars (33.5 million) by EVs (ie 3.35 million) would if they were all charging at once using basic 3kW charging add an additional electricity demand of 10GW - more than the electricity consumption of London!!! Neither the generation nor the electricity transmission systems are even close to being capable of handling such an additional load.

        Icon for those people who insist on replacing ICE vehicles with EVs when there is insufficient electrical power to charge them. ===>

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

          "Remember a huge number of UK vehicle owners do not have dedicated off street parking. For these people charging at home is difficult or impossible. The cost per kWh at public charge points is far higher than the cheap off peak rates available for people who can charge at home and the higher charge rates reduce battery lifespan."

          Not nearly as many as most people think - less than 25%, but there will be substantial overlap with the 8-9% without a car. Yes, that's still a lot of people, but you then have to subtract those who have a regular place of work etc.

          There is no reason public charging has to be at a high charge rate - that's required specifically for long journeys. But if you can charge whilst you shop, whilst you're at a restaurant, a cinema, theatre, gym, down at the pub, wherever... then you don't need high power DC charging.

          And the real killer here - the infrastructure to support such charging is orders of magnitude less expensive than even a single DC charge point - if every supermarket had a couple of 50kW chargers and a bank of 50 7kW chargers, then that 20% suddenly get really good coverage.

          We should also drop the VAT on public charging to match domestic charging.

          Tesla chargers are frequently half the price of other networks - so there is alot of scope for competition to drive prices down, and I suspect that the supermarkets will be a significant contributor to that process. Lidl have historically had some of the cheapest rates around, and provide a nice lunch.

          "A further point - there is NO WAY that the UK mains electricity supply can handle the replacement of a significant proportion of the current ICE vehicles with EVs"

          Yes it can... 30M EVs, 5kWh/day is an average load of just ~6.25GW.

          And the vast majority of that load will be requested when the grid is at it's least stressed (which doesn't have to be at the same time each day).

          We have six hours overnight with demand that's ~15GW below the daytime demand... not quite enough on it's own for a completely electrified fleet - but at the same time we should be implementing V2G, which actually helps smooth the grid even further - we won't need to curtail wind power, we can just charge vehicles, we won't need to fire up coal plants, we can just pull from vehicles. And no that doesn't mean that you'll wake up with an empty battery, it means you'll say "I want 50% SOC each morning by 7:30, but don't charge beyond 90%" and you'll have somewhere between 50 and 90% every morning, but your car will be arbitraging and earning money whilst it's parked.

          Electricity demand in the UK has fallen at a fairly steady rate since ~2005, indeed it's currently 80TWh lower than it was (that's 2.7e11 miles of driving, over 40 million UK cars worth of driving (even at a pessimistic 300Wh/mile)). So actually the grid has already coped with a higher load than EVs would place on it.

          1. Duncan Macdonald
            Unhappy

            Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

            Try remembering that wind power is NOT reliable power - there have been times when the UK 18+GW peak wind capacity has actually generated under 0.5GW. In addition to that the EV energy consumption of 300Wh per mile is under optimum conditions (daytime, clear road, no heating or air conditioning needed) - in winter months the requirements for heating and lighting massively increase the needed electrical energy. ICE vehicles have effectively free heating as they use the waste heat from the engine but as an example the Tesla 3 heater takes over 4kW from its battery.

            In winter when the electricity demand is already the highest, EVs will require far more energy from the electricity system than they do in summer. The electricity system margin is already too low to cope with 10% of ICE vehicles being replaced by EVs during a calm spell in winter let alone 100%. (I do however agree that during a windy spell in late spring there would be enough power.) Generation and transmission systems have to be sized to handle the peak load (and still have a safety margin to cope with equipment outages). Generators and major overhead power lines take years to build once someone puts up the money for them. As both the generating companies and National Grid are businesses they will not make the multi-billion pound investment needed themselves until they are certain that they will make a profit from such investment and there is no sign that the UK government is prepared to fund the investment.

            One of the other big problems with the electricity supply is likely to be the local 240 volt distribution systems - the underground cables are sized for the current loads - adding a significant number of EVs charging overnight is likely to need the cables (and transformers) to be upgraded needing a lot of roadworks to replace the cables.

            Icon for an EV owner who can not charge his/her vehicle =======>

            1. John Robson Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

              Huh...

              There are times when wind power is lower than other times - that's so insightful I don't know how you manage to spot such things. What's the relevance here. EVs can charge when the grid is less strained, particularly when there is excess wind, which you would have curtailed. Demand is malleable, as DFS sessions have demonstrated so successfully. It's entirely possible to have a grid where a significant component of demand tracks supply, because demand is decoupled from usage. You don't draw from the grid whilst using a vehicle, or a hot water tank... you draw from the grid when it's cheap and available, and you use that energy later when you want a shower, or to drive somewhere.

              300Wh/mile is actually pretty a conservative figure (it's well under 3.5m/kWh) - you can drop to 200Wh/mile in a decently efficient EV.

              No a car heater doesn't draw a continuous 4kW, can you imagine being in a small box with four old fashioned bar heaters on full blast?! And that's ignoring the fact that many vehicles use heat pumps for the majority of their heating load. Lights contribute effectively nothing to the energy required - even halogen bulbs are 100W at the top end... that's absolutely nothing compared with the several kW that the motor will draw.

              ICEv don't have free heating - they have incredibly expensive wasteful heating that they can't turn off, even in the summer.

              In the winter when demand is highest EVs will help to balance the grid. The giant battery outside the house could keep our demand to zero for several days at a time, even accounting for it's regular journeys. The margin is there in the grid, we know this because the grid has already supplied enough power, it's not rocket science, it's history.

              You seem to operate under the misapprehension that you need to completely charge a vehicle from flat to full every day - how often do you visit a petrol station? Average car does 20 miles a day at a little under 40mpg... So that's half a gallon, or a little under 2.4l of fuel - but you don't put in 2.5l of fuel a day. In an EV you can, and do. That's looking at ~500W required - that's not a load that the distribution network will struggle with, it's not dissimilar to the power draw from lighting circuits used to be before LEDs.

              It's such a stupid claim that the national grid have a page dedicated to rebuffing the FUD.

              "The simple answer is yes. The highest peak electricity demand in the UK in recent years was 62GW in 2002. Since then, the nation’s peak demand has fallen by roughly 16% due to improvements in energy efficiency.

              Even if we all switched to EVs overnight, we estimate demand would only increase by around 10%. So we’d still be using less power as a nation than we did in 2002 and this is well within the range the grid can capably handle."

              1. munnoch Bronze badge

                Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

                So whilst there is a bit of headroom in the current electricity supply infrastructure you have to also bear in mind that we are attempting to electrify *EVERYTHING*. You can only use up the headroom once.

                Thats personal transportation, public transportation, space heating, water heating, industrial processes. Stuff that is currently driven mainly by chemical fuel sitting in tanks and pipelines where many days or even weeks of consumption is all nicely buffered waiting to be used and the density is nice and high so that it can be transferred fairly promptly.

                Electricity storage capacity is currently orders of magnitude less than those chemical based fuels. The great white hope that keeps coming up is V2G. Lets take a similar case of domestic PV production. How much do you get paid for grid export? Peanuts as a fraction of what it costs to import that's how much. Now granted PV is not stored its instantaneous so maybe less valuable, but V2G relies on so many iffs and buts. Assume that I can leave my car plugged in all the time so that you can draw off from it. Assume that it starts out with a decent charge just before there is a generation shortfall (you keep telling me I don't need to charge it up every day but still wind conditions can last for many days in winter). Assume that I don't mind you round-tripping the battery more frequently than would otherwise be that case, depreciating the value of the car and shortening its useful life. How many are likely to sign up for this without really big financial incentives? There goes cost of living for the rest of us again.

                And lets not even touch on the state of the grid. If it was ready and capable of handling it then why is there be a back-log of generation schemes waiting to be connected? Why are we struggling to site large scale EV charging stations? The Western Isles has massive generation potential but it can't be tapped yet because the grid connection to the mainland can't hack it (its being upgraded). Plans are in motion but plans don't always come to fruition in the way that they intend. The current network was built around coal stations close to coal mines and close to large industrial users. What worked 20 years ago might not be what we want today. Its a bit like saying the UK is ready for high-speed rail because we've built a few miles of HS2 (which ironically may not go where its needed...).

                Today we're not ready. We might have good intentions of being ready but lets see how well that plays out. Remember that we're really shit at infrastructure in this country. Meanwhile look up Toyota's 1:6:90 rule.

                1. John Robson Silver badge

                  Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

                  If only the national grid would think about this and model their network, and make plans... Oh, they already are.

                  Yes - heating is a much higher energy demand than EVs, but is also a load which the grid can handle, the "headroom" I have been describing thus far is headroom *already* in the system - no investment needed at all. Our heating load in this house, in the coldest of weather over the last two winters (-8.6 degrees), is ~5kW, which even with an inefficient heat pump (and it clearly won't be pulling a COP of 5 in the coldest weather) isn't going to exceed 2kW of electrical load; that's within the capacity of the distribution network - yes we'll need alot more generation, but that's a different part of the equation, and we'll have a whole stack of gas we don't use any more... Because burning gas in a power plant, transmitting that power over the grid, and using that electricity to run a heat pump gets more heat into a house than burning the gas on site. Is it the ideal fuel to use? Absolutely not, but as that gets phased out in favour of more zero carbon generation then everyone benefits.

                  "How much do you get paid for grid export? Peanuts as a fraction of what it costs to import that's how much."

                  My off peak import rate is 7.5p, my average import rate (total cost/total import) over the last six months has been about 10p, and my export rate is 15p - so yes its a fraction, but what we used to call a top heavy one. (That import rate is just the import, not accounting for export credits, DFS sessions, self generation).

                  That's also the "now" situation. Half hourly tariffs are really in their infancy, and the ability to have these tariffs dynamically adjust to the grid is still very new. Octopus Agile and Intelligent Go are good examples of two approaches being trialled:

                  - One where the price tracks the wholesale price, set each by the "day ahead" rate.

                  - One where there is a traditional "off peak" period, but also a completely dynamic "additional half hours" that can be given to you at effectively no notice at all.

                  Neither of those are the same as tariffs from twenty years ago, so why do you assume that tariffs in twenty years time will look the same?

                  "If it was ready and capable of handling it then why is there be a back-log of generation schemes waiting to be connected? "

                  Because you're asking why the tip of the chisel is blunt when I've said that the handle is comfortable. There is a massive difference between HV connections to new generation and the ability of the distribution network to handle as much energy as it handled twenty years ago.

                  Of course we're not yet ready for the load we expect to have in thirty years time - we'd be foolish if we were, it would be a waste of resources.

                  I'm well aware of toyota's defense of their old business model... and I have some sympathy with their BEV vs PHEV, but none at all with their fuel only vehicles.

            2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

              Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

              Ahh, all the FUD in one post. Great, saves me time.

              > ICE vehicles have effectively free heating as they use the waste heat from the engine

              EVs have effectively free cooling as they don't have to deal with waste heat from the engine. The last time I saw this argument it was against LED lighting and in support of incandescent bulbs due to their "free heating" - it was just as daft then. I drove all winter in my EV. Do you know how I coped? I wore socks.

              > heating and lighting massively increase the needed electrical energy.

              No, they just don't. Please consider the amount of energy to accelerate two tonnes of metal to 70mph vs the energy required to heat a small space - they are orders of magnitude apart. Experimentally when I have turned on heating or aircon to check, it has a less than 5% impact on range.

              > In winter when the electricity demand is already the highest, EVs will require far more energy from the electricity system than they do in summer.

              Yes, grid demand is higher in winter. But it is also lower in summer. ICEs, meanwhile, have high energy requirements all year around.

              > One of the other big problems with the electricity supply is likely to be the local 240 volt distribution systems - the underground cables are sized for the current loads - adding a significant number of EVs charging overnight is likely to need the cables

              Cables to the house are already sized to supply whatever the house fuse breaker is set to - 100A so so. I have yet to see an EV that will draw more than 11kW off three-phase, or 7kW off single phase AC charger. 7kW is 30A - not to be sneezed at, but there are many induction hobs that draw this on the market already. And I note you're not suggesting the cables under the street will all need replacing if everyone cooks dinner at once.

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

                "Cables to the house are already sized to supply whatever the house fuse breaker is set to - 100A so so. I have yet to see an EV that will draw more than 11kW off three-phase, or 7kW off single phase AC charger. 7kW is 30A - not to be sneezed at, but there are many induction hobs that draw this on the market already. And I note you're not suggesting the cables under the street will all need replacing if everyone cooks dinner at once."

                To be fair there is an assumption that not all houses will draw maximum power at the same time.

                But... we used to all draw substantially more power all day long than we do now - and storage heaters used to draw more than 7kW all night if you had more than one room in the house...

                1. munnoch Bronze badge

                  Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

                  Induction hobs rarely run at full chat. To push the full 7kW into one you'd need all the zones turned up to max. Even then that's unlikely to last more than a few mins unless you are running a soup kitchen from your home. Diversity says this load basically disappears because its so short lived.

                  Not so an EV. It could be taking a substantial portion of its 7kW non-stop for anything from a few tens of minutes to several hours. Many households have 2 or move vehicles so double or triple that.

                  Storage heaters are generally in the 1 to 2kW range and are thermostatic so don't run all night, only for as long as it takes to "charge" up. They are generally used in smaller properties where the overhead of fitting a gas burner isn't justified so unlikely you'll get to a total of 7kW.

                  I have a 3 phase cable head, the cut out fuses are 60A. I'll have no trouble accommodating an EV charger or two. BUT, as I keep pointing out, I'm also going to be expected to *heat* my home and water using electricity at some point in the future. That load will be bigger than an EV charger and it will literally run for months at a time at a fairly high duty cycle. It also cannot be time-shifted, I want the radiators to be warm in the evening when I'm sat in front of the TV, not in the middle of the night when I'm asleep.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

                    I can tell you that when a registered installer comes to fit a car charger, they check the house cabling and projected load before they fit it and throttle the charger if necessary to not overload the circuit. And if you want the government rebate for installing a charger, you have to use a registered installer.

                    What they don't necessarily do is do their job properly, including correctly fitting waterproof connection boxes. Remember kids, always install an RCD!

                    (Ironically struggling to post this due to a village-wide powercut. An underground cable fault, nothing to do with my EV :-)

                  2. John Robson Silver badge

                    Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

                    "Storage heaters are generally in the 1 to 2kW range and are thermostatic so don't run all night, only for as long as it takes to "charge" up. They are generally used in smaller properties where the overhead of fitting a gas burner isn't justified so unlikely you'll get to a total of 7kW."

                    Mine is 2.3kW, and runs continuously during the timed period - whilst it does have a thermostatic "max charge" control - I've never hit that stat since I've been monitoring the energy usage.

                    When I had two of them on E7 via a time switch by the dual meters in my first flat then each of them would have been similar power rating, and they also ran most of the night in winter (though I don't have data on those).

                    "I want the radiators to be warm in the evening when I'm sat in front of the TV, not in the middle of the night when I'm asleep."

                    Not really - you want the *house* warm in the evening, a subtle difference, but important.

                    Heating load is much harder to shift, but is also substantially lower. At the absolute coldest (-8.6 degrees) we have had over the previous two winters my (fairly traditional british housing stock) family house used 5kW of gas over 20 hours - data shows that my boiler typically doesn't fire at all for at least four hours of the night. It used 5kW on just 5 days over two winters, that's maybe 2kW for a heat pump running at low efficiency (due to the low temperature) on 2-3 days a year.. There were only 22 days over those two winters needed more than 4kW (including the previously mentioned 5).

                    To supply our hot water would require the same power draw for a little over an hour in that four hour "break" that my boiler takes overnight.

                    Of course a modern house shouldn't need nearly as much energy - we are far too late in improving building standards.

                    It's quite easy to move any of that load by an hour or so to help the grid on days of particularly spiky demand/supply (or indeed every day if you have something like the Agile or Cosy tariff) just by turning the heating on slightly earlier, and then off for an hour - but you're right that you can't shift it to overnight without additional local storage - but we have the potential for massive additional storage, EVs can shift many hours of heating demand.

                    The energy consumption of heating is substantial, but the power draw isn't all that bad.

                  3. John Robson Silver badge

                    Re: I will purchase an electric vehicle - eventually

                    "Not so an EV. It could be taking a substantial portion of its 7kW non-stop for anything from a few tens of minutes to several hours. Many households have 2 or move vehicles so double or triple that."

                    Yes - but rarely.

                    Because you don't need to charge am EV from empty to full every day. Any more than you tip the fuel down the drain and fill up your ICEV every day.

                    Average car does ~20 miles a day, so needs about 5kWh, which is not a huge load. If we assume cars are at home for ~10 hours overnight then that's 500W needed.

  10. chriskno

    VAT

    The VAT paid on home electricity is 5%, electricity in charging stations is 20%. So if you don't have a home charger your running costs for your EV are higher, an anomaly that needs to be addressed by the Government.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: VAT

      Absolutely -They pump huge amounts at fossil fuel drivers - continuing the 5p cut, and the long term freeze on fuel duty.

      Gridserve (the only network that I could easily find a figure for) claim to have charged 160 megamiles across ~2 million charging sessions last year.

      Let's be conservative and assume that's 40 GWh (or 20kWh per session, seems maybe a little low)

      They're the fifth biggest DC charge network, with about 10% of the total - let's assume that they're representative.

      That's ~400GWh, charged at ~75p/kWh which is about £300 million in takings, of which £50m would be VAT - drop the rate to 5% (to match domestic charging) and you're looking at a cost to the treasury of <£40 million.

      Assume that the AC network does as much charging as the DC network and you're still under £100 million

      The 5p fuel duty cut which should have expired keeps the duty down to 53p, thats on 16 billion litres of petrol and 27 billion litres of diesel (RAC figures from 2023). That's £2,100 million - more than an order of magnitude more.

      1. Emir Al Weeq

        Re: VAT

        Don't forget that there's VAT on that fuel duty.

        Just to clarify to non-Brits: you did read that right, we pay tax on our tax.

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