With more and more EVs on our roads and most of us plugging in to charge at home, the electricity grid needs some protection. New laws enforcing smart charging by private charging devices are the start.
In an ideal world, all drivers will switch to an EV tariff and shift their charging to cheaper, off-peak hours. But Phase One of the government’s smart charging legislation, which comes into effect from June, will make it harder to charge during peak hours.
What is the new smart charging law?
From June 2022, all new private charging points will have to be ‘smart’. Previously only installations under the OZEV grant scheme had to meet these standards.
In detail the new rules mean private charge points:
- Must be smart
- Meet cyber security standards
- Ensure compatibility when changing energy supplier
- Are pre-set not to charge at peak times
- Have a randomised delay function to improve grid stability
- Must measure or calculate energy consumed and exported, as well as charging times, for the user to view.
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What makes a charger smart?
The government’s definition of a smart charger is one that is ‘communications enabled and able to respond automatically to remote signals by adjusting the electricity consumption flowing through the chargepoint’.
What does the legislation mean in practice?
As a nudge, if you install a new chargepoint it will be preset to avoid charging during peak hours (8-11am and 4-10pm on weekdays). These are times when the grid has higher demand and is more likely to fall back on fossil fuel generation to keep the lights on.
In addition, to stop new chargepoints causing an mini surge in demand at 10pm, new units will randomly defer off-peak charging sessions by ten minutes. That means you may set your charging to start at 10pm, but it may not actually start charging until 10.10pm.
What if I need to charge in a hurry?
The good news is charging controls can easily be overridden. Users can choose to override charging times, even if they are controlled remotely. They can also set their own charging schedules to take advantage of cheaper overnight tariffs.
Will I be able to install a charger without WiFi or mobile signal?
All chargers must be able to send and receive information via a communication network, so choosing a chargepoint with the right WiFi or mobile connectivity for your parking spot becomes important. But what if you don’t have mobile signal, or your Wifi is weak? Crucially, the legislation covers the sale of chargepoints, but not their installation. You cannot be fined for having a chargepoint that is not as smart as expected. Obviously, you’ll want to have a working smart device if at all possible, to take advantage of future developments in DSR (more about this later on).
What else is in the smart charging legislation?
New security and privacy requirements apply from 30 December 2022. This will require all data sent and received by the chargepoint to be encrypted, with protections for safety-critical functions and user notifications if there’s a cyberattack. There are also requirements for an easy interface for drivers to change settings and delete personal data.
Can I still charge using a three-pin plug or ‘granny cable’?
Many EV drivers rely on being able to top up away from home using a three-pin plug. Other households have had a general-use ‘commando socket’ installed which offers basic charging without the expense of a dedicated home charger. The good news is that the future of ‘non-smart cables’ appear to be safe. The legislation does not apply to “non-smart cable” as an electrical cable which is a charge point but which is not able to send and receive information.
Why is smart charging important?
The ultimate aim of this legislation is that all charge points allow your car to take part in future demand side response or DSR. DSR gives users incentives for switching a device (like an EV) on or off so that energy supply can cope with demand. This process can be automated, whereby utilities can remotely control the supply to appliances in your home. All appliances must be able to opt-out and operate as normal if requested by the user.
What is V2G or V2H?
V2G stands for Vehicle to Grid. V2H means Vehicle to home. Both are a further step into the world of DSR. Both mean energy can be call upon from an EV battery, supplying the house or going onto the grid, thereby helping the grid cope during times of high demand. With V2H the household avoids the expensive evening peak energy. With V2G the energy drawn from an EV battery is sold back to the grid, normally at profit to the user.
Why are V2H and V2G important?
V2G and V2H will reduce a daily problem for the grid. Like the rush hour on the roads, there’s a rush hour on the grid as we all arrive home in the evening and use energy at the same time. EV batteries can send energy back to the grid, plugging the evening energy demand gap, before being recharged overnight, ready to drive off again in the morning. This makes EVs a cost-effective way of storing and releasing energy to lessen the strain on the grid. Better for the gird, as it removes the need for expensive Grid infrastructure upgrades.
What are the benefits of V2G?
V2G could be financially beneficial for consumers. Most consumers will charge their EVs overnight, when demand and prices are low. What V2G allows a consumer to do is sell some of their energy back to the back to the grid at peak times when prices are at their highest.
What are the downsides of V2G?
V2G is still in trial stage. There are question marks over the impact on battery health of increased use and also the payback when you factor in the cost of the V2G enabled chargepoint. There are also very few cars that can currently communicate with the grid, so a lot depends on what big manufacturers do. VW susggest they will make it possible with a software update soon, which is dependent on the finalisation of a CCS2 plug standard to allow bidirectional charging.
What may come first is V2L (vehicle-to-load) which means supplying appliances in your own home (or anywhere you need power), rather than sending energy back to the grid. Hyundai and Kia introduced this in the Ioniq 5 and EV6, enabling owners to plug in to power devices like kettles and lights when camping, or recharge batteries in electric bikes and power tools.
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