Britain has ambitious plans to scale up affordable, clean, and homegrown power. By 2050, the government wants to achieve net zero, which means a clean energy revolution is required. How can electric vehicle charging contribute to driving this transition?
Unleashing the Full Potential of Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles (EVs) are quickly becoming a viable alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, thus driving a revolution in clean energy. For EVs to fully realise their potential, a reliable and convenient charging infrastructure with smart charging options and renewable energy sources is key.
In March 2023, the UK government announced it would invest more than £380 million (US$475 million) into boosting EV charging points and infrastructure across the country to support the rollout of electric vehicles.
Electric vehicles currently comprise 2.5% of all licensed road vehicles in the UK. This number from September 2022 has risen by 1.6% compared to the year before, meaning that the market is growing, despite being still in the early stage. In late 2022, 14% of new car registrations were battery-powered vehicles and 5% were plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
How else can electric vehicle charging drive the clean energy revolution in 2023? We explore five key ways below.
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5 Ways Electric Vehicle Charging Is Driving the Clean Energy Revolution in 2023
1. Increasing EV adoption through accessible, equitable charging points
For EVs to be accepted on a larger scale, reliable and easily accessible charging infrastructure is crucial. There are 37,055 public EV charging stations in the UK, many of which are located in London. To provide convenient, reliable, and equitable access, charging stations should be strategically located. This includes locations around motorways, near shopping centres, at office buildings, within town centres, and close to public parks.
In addition, both public and private charging points should be doing quick work. Already, modern electric vehicle chargers are able to charge your car overnight and they can be installed in private garages. However, planning for EV charging infrastructure must also be appealing, meaning simple processes and equitable access for those in different housing situations. By locating charging points at multi-occupation housing, renters can be incentivised to drive electric vehicles.
2. Reducing CO2 emissions by providing appealing charging amenities
Electric vehicle charging can help reduce CO2 emissions since these vehicles emit no pollutants when they are driven.
In order to leverage the use of EVs for clean energy revolutions, the experience at charging stations also plays a role. Charging an electric vehicle still takes much longer than going to a gas station. Making the experience more appealing could involve placing the charging points close to mixed-use developments which include dining, shopping, and entertainment venues as well as other driver amenities.
Mobility and transit hubs where people can connect with other transportation modes, including public transport, are also important. They provide a good opportunity for EV car-shares that can be dropped at the station, where they charge for the next driver, while the former driver hops onto public transport, bikes, or other clean energy modes of transportation. This pushes multimodal clean transport and ecotourism to be a pillar of the clean energy transformation.
3. Building resilient infrastructure and smart grids for electric vehicle charging
According to BloombergNEF, by 2040, electric vehicles will represent more than 60% of all new car sales worldwide. This fleet conversion will impact and change electric grid networks, transport planning, and urban development. To support this transition, we need adequate infrastructure; having EVs on the road will not work if the vehicles cannot be charged reliably. Therefore, it is important to consider the different needs of the electricity grid, for example in terms of transmission, distribution, and substation infrastructure.
Our future power grid must not only be powered by clean energy but also be resilient and accommodating to future needs. The availability of clean electric power and in particular renewable power will be a key factor for EV charging infrastructure site selection. In addition, the grid and surrounding infrastructure should already be adapted for the next evolution of vehicles, including autonomous vehicles and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
4. Improving smart charging at home
According to provider Wallbox, around 80% of electric vehicle charging takes place at home. The government’s New Smart Charging Plan for Electric Vehicles aims at making home charging the primary EV charging method, promoting smart charging as a cost-saving option. In addition to individual savings, smart charging can relieve pressure on the electricity grid, ultimately generating savings for all parties.
Smart electric vehicle chargers that can integrate charging with renewable energy systems will drive EV adoption in the long term. They will contribute to the adoption of clean, renewable energies such as solar power. Drivers with home photovoltaics will be able to charge their cars either entirely with solar power or with excess solar production, making charging both sustainable and significantly cheaper. Bidirectional chargers will allow households to utilise the smart grid by charging the battery at times when energy is cheaper.
5. Building smart and intentional communities
Increasing the amount of public and private electric vehicle charging points will enable smart communities that are intentional about harnessing the technology for a clean energy revolution. As part of the smart city approach, data and technology can help to identify gaps in the existing EV charging network and provide more equitable access in the future, especially in rural or disadvantaged communities. This requires an integrated approach with partnerships between utility companies, suppliers, private companies, transportation agencies, and the government at different levels.
At the same time, smart networks of EV charging points will make it more appealing to drive an electric vehicle, which in turn will improve air quality by reducing the emissions of harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.
London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone already exempts EVs from its hefty daily charge. This reduction in air pollution can have significant positive impacts on positive health, reducing the risk of respiratory disease and increasing the quality of life in cities.
EV Charging Plays a Key Role in the Clean Energy Transition
Electric vehicle charging infrastructure is an important part of future smart communities that integrate data and technology into the built environment. It creates a convenient and equitable charging network and improves both sustainability and quality of life across neighbourhoods.
EVs are an important part of the clean energy revolution. By increasing renewable energy adoption, reducing CO2 emissions, creating more resilient infrastructure, providing economic benefits, and improving air quality, electric vehicle charging points can drive cleaner transportation and energy in 2023.
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