Preparing for the EV revolution – the EV Energy Taskforce publishes its recommendations

United Kingdom

Introduction

The Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce (the “Taskforce”) published its inaugural report (the “Report”) on 14 January 2020 setting out a number of proposals to ensure the UK energy system is prepared for, and can best serve, the country’s electric vehicle (“EV”) future.

The Taskforce brings together key stakeholders in the energy, infrastructure and automotive sectors aiming to enable the growth of the EV industry, with a focus on achieving the best outcome for the consumer. The Taskforce was established to address challenges and opportunities raised in the Government’s ‘The Road to Zero’ strategy of July 2018, particularly those relating to decarbonised and electric road transport.

Context of the report

The Road to Zero strategy (summarised in our LawNow available here) recognised that a key challenge to the uptake of EVs is the timely provision of charging infrastructure, as well as addressing range anxiety and accessibility of charging points on the part of consumers. Moreover, the strategy identified the potentially challenging impacts that the electrification of road transport could have on the overall GB/UK electricity system, predicting that electricity consumption could increase by 30% by 2050.  However, the Taskforce recognised that there is potential for EV users to provide benefits to the electricity system, for example by way of smart charging.

Key issues

Three key priorities identified in the Report are:

  1. The urgency of developing standards and codes of practice to enable interoperability and the sharing of data within the EV sector and within the wider electricity system;
  2. The need for effective local and national planning and coordination to enable efficient investment in EV charging, mediating the balance between future-proofing and asset stranding; and
  3. The criticality of smart charging, underpinned by a resilient network and clear market signals, to reduce the cost of supplying electricity to millions of EVs.

The Taskforce’s proposals aim to deliver a high level of interoperability as well as extensive smart charging to bring real benefits to consumers and minimise the impact on the electricity system.

Summary of proposals put forward by the Taskforce

In its Report, the Taskforce set out twenty-one proposals to help develop and grow a smart, accessible, public and private charging infrastructure that is effectively integrated within the wider electricity system. The twenty-one proposals include the following:

Interoperability:

  • Enabling roaming services to deliver a seamless EV charging experience between public chargepoints;
  • Developing common labelling standards to ensure that the interoperability performance of EV supply equipment is clearly communicated to consumers;

    Smart Tech:

  • Agreeing the minimum technical requirements for EV chargepoints necessary to facilitate the management of the electricity network;
  • Requiring private EV charge points to charge smartly by default;

    Consumer protection:

  • Introducing a data access and privacy framework for the EV sector;
  • Undertaking a full review of consumer protections for all aspects of the EV customer journey;

    Planning:

  • Ensuring effective forward planning and coordination of the rollout of EV and electricity network infrastructure at a national and local level; and
  • Ensuring that Ofgem’s RIIO-2 price control supports well-justified anticipatory network investment related to the development of EV charging infrastructure.

Of particular note is the Taskforce’s proposals in respect of physical, transactional and technical interoperability. Interoperability across the EV charging sector will be vital in building resilient, efficient and secure charging infrastructure. As a result, the Taskforce is encouraging early Government and industry cooperation to foster innovation and adopt common standards as soon as possible.

Rewarding smart charging and vehicle-to-grid presents a real opportunity to encourage uptake of EVs as well as for effectively managing the electricity system. The power balances and ancillary markets are not designed to interface with millions of EVs. The Taskforce has therefore called on the Government and Ofgem to accelerate their joint programme exploring flexibility in the electricity retail market so that its value can be realised by EV users.

Next steps

In terms of specific requirements, the Taskforce has requested that Government and industry implement a number of proposals by specified dates, including:

  1. Roaming services at charging points by 2021;
  2. Requiring private EV chargepoints to charge smartly by default, thus making smart charging participation an opt-out function by 2021;
  3. Establishment of an independent advice service on EVs and smart chargers by 2022; and
  4. By 2025, an agreed preferred set of charging standards.

The Taskforce notes that the implementation of these proposals will require some form of governance. While the Report does not propose who should hold these responsibilities it emphasises the need of whole-system principles and market-led solutions in order to avoid duplication of governance mechanisms.

Comment

Decarbonisation of transport, which is currently responsible for 25% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, is fundamental to reaching net-zero goals by 2050. Harnessing smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology will allow for more efficient use of existing energy infrastructure, avoiding costly reinforcements and additional capacity, as well as providing the opportunity for some entities to earn extra revenues. The proposals set out in the Report are certainly ambitious and a positive step in the development of the EV industry. Looking forward, much work will need to be done at both a national and local level in order to put these proposals into action and accelerate the momentum in the industry – watch this space!

Read our recent report on vehicle‑to‑grid technology here.