EV drivers can save over £600 a year with ‘ground-breaking’ project

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New data released today found that electric car drivers could save £604.65 every year in charging costs compared to traditional non-smart public charging. This is equivalent to UK-wide collective savings of over £4.1billion a year by 2030, based on the UK’s first-ever trial of smart metered on-street electric vehicle (EV) chargers.

It found that peak energy demand – the time of day when energy demand is greatest – would be reduced by as much as 240MW, equivalent to boiling over 1.4 million kettles.

Achieving the same peak demand reduction by using lithium-ion battery storage would cost around £83million plus an annual operating cost of £1.5million.

Smart charging also reduces the demand on local grid connection capacity, enabling more chargers to be installed to support the UK Government’s target of installing 300,000 public EV chargers by 2030.

The trial will help provide the blueprint for those rolling out smart energy tariffs across public charges – which are currently available to those with off-street parking.

The project, which is backed by the UK Government, was delivered by a consortium of companies including EV infrastructure specialist Connected Kerb.

Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, praised the trial and said it would help accelerate the shift to EVs by giving confidence to those with charging anxiety.

He said: “The energy price crisis is a major challenge facing all industries. For the EV transition, we know that this will narrow the gap between the cost of refuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle, and the typically much lower cost of charging an EV. 

“That’s why now is the time to focus our attention on smart charging technologies that can allow those reliant on public charging infrastructure to benefit from cheaper prices when demand for electricity is at its lowest.

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“The deployment of smart charging into public charging – to both reduce consumer costs and minimise the impact of charging on the grid – is ground-breaking. 

“The Agile Streets trial gives us the opportunity to ensure we get smart charging right, enabling us to take all of the learnings from the trial and get ready to roll out this revolutionary infrastructure.” 

EV ownership is skyrocketing, with UK registrations taking up 40 percent more compared to this time last year. However, rising energy bills erode the advantage of lower running costs for EVs compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. 

Currently, an average EV is just 3.9p per mile cheaper to run than a petrol equivalent if charging at home, compared to 9.2p before the energy price cap increase in October.

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Home smart charging energy tariffs can help keep costs down for EV drivers, making EVs 13.5p cheaper per mile compared to ICE cars even after the October price rise, thus helping to maintain the financial benefits of driving an EV.

Almost two thirds of UK households do not have access to off-street parking or a dedicated parking space with domestic power supply, meaning they must rely on public charging infrastructure to charge their EVs and therefore do not have access to smart energy tariffs. 

They also pay 20 percent VAT compared to the five percent paid on home energy. This creates a significant inequality between road users and people who can charge their vehicle at home.

Smart metering works by enabling EVs to schedule charging to times when energy prices are cheapest, such as overnight when demand is low or on sunny and windy days when there is an abundance of cheap solar and wind energy. 

This reduces emissions, takes pressure off the grid at peak times and keeps costs low for drivers. By using the Agile Streets app and scheduling the time a car needs to be fully charged, drivers will have enough power to drive away when needed.

The Agile Streets project saw 100 Connected Kerb on-street EV chargers deployed at 17 sites across four local authorities – Shropshire, Hackney, Glasgow and East Lothian. 

Over the course of six months, 2,451 charging sessions took place, totalling 51,618 kWh of energy. These charging sessions were completed by 368 trial participants.

Tim Anderson, group head of transport at Energy Saving Trust, who was responsible for monitoring and evaluation in the trial, said: “The provision of convenient and affordable EV charging infrastructure is essential to ensure that electric vehicles are accessible to everyone. 

“This will support the switch low carbon transport, which in turn is a key part of the UK’s transition to net zero carbon. 

“Energy Saving Trust is proud to be part of this world-first trial, using smart metering technology to enable drivers without the option of charging at home, to take advantage of off-peak tariffs to charge their cars. We look forward to seeing the trial rolled out further and the benefits that this will bring.”

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