September 29, 2021

Piclo CEO and Co-Founder James Johnston explains the benefits of
Electric vehicle fleets for the management of electricity networks.

The electric vehicle revolution is finally upon us. Electric vehicles are now commonplace on our roads and this is reflected in the sales figures, with around 15% of new cars now fully electric.

With transport being the most polluting sector in the UK, accounting for 27% of our total greenhouse gas emissions, this transition will be vital to achieving our net zero target.

With the government banning the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030 to help us achieve this goal, skeptics have long warned of the impact this could have on the power grid as drivers plug their cars in. to charge at home and on the go. .

However, the significant increase in electric vehicles will actually support the grid by providing the flexibility essential to deal with peaks and troughs in renewable energy supply.

The role of flexibility

As our energy system becomes greener and we move from fossil production to more variable solar and wind production, the role of energy flexibility becomes more important.

According to some estimates, electric vehicles have enormous potential to provide the flexibility required to enable this transition – potentially capable of delivering more than 11 GW of flexible capacity to the UK’s energy system by 2030.

We must therefore change perceptions and consider electric vehicles as an opportunity to ensure a profitable transition by offering the flexibility necessary to alleviate the tensions on our energy networks.

Enabling energy flexibility with electric vehicles

Smart charging is crucial to enable electric vehicles to offer flexibility, ensuring that electric vehicles only tap into the grid when demand is low or when there is excess production. In turn, this means that electric vehicles do not strain the network by charging during times of low production or
strong demand.

Recent competitions on Piclo Flex, an independent marketplace for online energy flexibility trading, demonstrate the value of EVs, with 68% of successful bids in local markets going to flex providers bidding with EVs.

UK Power Networks’ latest tender awarded flexibility contracts worth £ 30million to energy innovators, and more than two-thirds of the new capacity – 248 MW – will come from of electric vehicles with intelligent charging.

The future of the flexible market

The UK flexibility market has seen incredible growth so far in 2021 as 1.6 GW of flexibility has been contracted by distribution system operators (GDs) to date.

The recent growth is partly due to the fact that some flexibility contracts are awarded in advance and once awarded can last up to seven years. This means that planned electric vehicle fleets can integrate the revenue from flexibility into their long-term business models, particularly targeting areas where grid constraints are present.

There is significant optimism in the UK that this growth will continue, following the government’s recently released Smart Systems and Flexibility plan which indicated that 13 GW of flexibility could be provided to the system by 2030.

To make this a reality, it is important to introduce greater standardization for purchasing flexibility. Since the market is still quite young, the industry should combine this standardization with the “learning by doing” approach that has contributed to the recent growth of flexibility markets.

For example, combining smart EV charging with flexible markets can give DSOs more options for efficient grid management, optimizing the safe delivery of electricity to EVs without compromising the supply of electricity to offices and to homes.

Launch the flexibility revolution

EVs have the potential to play an important role in the future of our power systems: helping to balance the power grid by absorbing energy during times of oversupply and reducing demand during times of undersupply. Thus, the growth of electric vehicles with intelligent charging could transform our network.

Removing barriers for EV flexibility providers to participate in the sector is vital and will play a major role in supporting the UK in its goal of achieving net zero by 2050.

The impact of this will be a more flexible energy grid, able to support the continued growth of renewable energies and a cleaner vehicle fleet to reduce air pollution in our cities. It really is a win-win.


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