The Smart EV Charging Opportunity
The road to getting all the UK’s motorists into EVs is a game of two halves. One, getting consumers used to the idea of EV ownership, so removing barriers to adoption and the other, ensuring the charging infrastructure is in place to keep all these EVs on the road. This is a huge opportunity for innovative UK businesses says Tharsus' Kern Boyd.
The EV Charging vs EV Infrastructure Stand-Off
Historically, this has created a classic stand-off, where each half looks to the other to justify taking the epic financial plunge to scale sharply to a capacity where they can- you guessed it- support the other.
However, things are beginning to change. Quite rapidly too. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reports that 42,000 EVs were sold in the UK in December alone – marking both a sharp increase on the previous December figure and significant milestone in that EV sales exceeded petrol car sales for the first time ever.
Predictions are this acceleration will increase exponentially over the next two years, meaning existing charging infrastructure will be completely overwhelmed. It’s been calculated that to avoid this happening, chargers need to be deployed at a rate equivalent to 100 per day, from right now. That puts the problem into perspective.
So the stand- off has been replaced by an elephant in the room– how can we keep up with EV sales and provide a large and reliable enough EV charging infrastructure network?
Putting the “Smart” into EV Charging
The key, says the UK Government to solving this problem lies in smart charging, as set out in their Electric Vehicle Smart Charging Action Plan published earlier this month. Smart charging is both easier to deploy and through smart management of the cost of electricity it dispenses, more palatable to adopt by users. Indeed users of it could save up to £1000 per year over users of conventional charging solutions.
Energy and Climate Minister Graham Stuart said: “We want to make smart charging an easier choice for drivers of electric vehicles, whether that is charging on the driveway, at the workplace, or parked on the street. To do that we need to build new network infrastructure at pace, using the latest available technologies.”
And to do just that, Government has announced £16m of funding to support the development of these latest available technologies. Among them is a project in our native North-East, led by Otaski Energy Solutions, which has won a £229,000 share for its work to develop a lamppost with a vehicle-to-grid charging point. A true game-changer for residents who do not have off-street parking.
Meanwhile, in London, Agile Charging’s BEVScanV2X project is receiving £165,000 of funding to develop technologies to monitor battery degradation and provide automated smart advice on approaches to maximise battery life, with a focus on batteries used in V2X.
Finally, £220,000 is being allocated to the V2X-Flex project in Surrey. The project, led by EV Dot Energy, is developing a business model that could make bi-directional chargers more accessible to homeowners and tenants by reducing the upfront cost. It is also developing prototype software for the chargers.
These are just three of the numerous UK small businesses that are looking to address the need for EV charging infrastructure. It’s great to see true innovation like this in the UK. We have a long history of it after all. British industry has always punched above its weight in terms of the size, population and access to resources. While China may play a growing role as the world’s manufacturer, the UK and its businesses need to take the opportunity to embrace our expertise and deliver on innovation and technological disruption.
As an advanced manufacturer, with unique experience and capability in taking complex innovation to successful scale, we’re very excited by what’s happening in this sector right now. We know from our work with companies such as FreeWire and historically, the size of the prize for innovators goes way beyond UK shores. If we can solve the UK’s EV conundrum, then we have an opportunity to sell our solutions throughout the world.
Key to this will be collaboration. If you’d like to talk about how such manufacturing collaboration may possibly help your business, we’d love to arrange a chat.
Kern Boyd is Project Principal at Tharsus and sector lead on Electrification. His industry knowledge and contacts support our thought leadership groups in asking questions about what the EV future might look like, keeping Tharsus poised to adapt to the needs of scaling businesses within it.