The future is smart: the Government’s response to the electric vehicle smart charging consultation

England and Wales

In July 2019, the Department for Transport and OZEV launched a consultation on proposals for new EV chargepoint smart technology regulations. On 14 July 2021, the Government published its final response to the electric vehicle smart charging consultation that was closed in May 2020 (the “Response”). We covered the consultation in our Q1 2021 EV Round-up which can be accessed here. The Government has followed the proposals under the consultation with approaching the roll-out of smart charging requirements over two phases.

Phase 1 – under The Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 (“AEV Act”) the UK Government has powers, through secondary legislation, to require that EV chargepoints sold or installed in the UK have ‘smart charging’ functionality included. The Government proposes to publish the regulations in Autumn 2021.

Phase 2 – would mandate requirements beyond the smart chargepoint devices themselves, and instead apply rules to chargepoint operators and electricity aggregators, as well as updating device-level requirements. As the requirements are expected to go beyond the device only powers of the AEV Act, Phase 2 would require new primary legislation. The timing for Phase 2 is less clear as the Government wish to examine the impact of implementation of Phase 1 and harmonise it with the 2021 Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan (please see our separate Law-Now), and the upcoming Call for Evidence on regulating third party intermediaries in the retail energy market. This will push Phase 2 into beyond 2022.

Phase 1 Outcomes

The Government has outlined the following to be expected under the AEV Act regulations. The rules will apply to private (domestic and workplace) chargepoints 50 kW or below. The rules will apply to the sale of chargepoints, rather than installation, and will be enforced by the Office for Product Safety and Standards (“OPSS”). The following requirements will be contained in the regulations:

  • Manufacturers of chargepoints will have to provide a statement of compliance and technical file which should give detailed evidence of how the requirements in the regulations are met. This file will need to be made available to the OPSS upon request.

  • Whilst the Government considered whether to mandate compliance with the new BSI Standards for Energy Smart Appliances (PAS 1878), it has decided to not require direct compliance with the standard. Instead, the regulations will require technical standards that are compatible with the BSI Standard. Mandating for the BSI Standard may be considered as part of Phase 2.

  • A ‘smart chargepoint’ will be defined as an EV charger that has the ability to:

    1. Send and receive information; and

    2. Respond to this information by;

      • increasing or decreasing the rate of electricity flowing through the chargepoint; and;

      • changing the time at which electricity flows through the chargepoint.

  • As the BSI Standards for Energy Smart Appliances will not be mandated, the regulation will have to address cybersecurity separately. The Government will implement a European cyber-security standard EN 303 645 which outlines an outcome-based set of requirements for consumer Internet of Things devices and will apply to smart chargepoints.

  • At this stage, there will not be a requirement for chargepoints to be capable of retaining smart functionality in the event that the chargepoint operator were to be changed. Instead, the regulation will ensure that consumers are able to switch their energy supplier without the smart chargepoint losing smart functionality. Interoperability remains a fundamental policy principle for Government’s approach to smart charging but will be dealt with in further detail in Phase 2.

  • In order to support grid stability, smart chargepoints must contain a function that randomly delays the start time of any load control action. This randomised delay function will help reduce the risk of potential grid stability issues where large numbers of chargepoints switch on or off at the same time. Chargepoints will need to have the capability of applying a remotely configurable randomised delay of up to 30 minutes, though by default they will only need to apply a delay of up to 10 minutes. In addition, the chargepoint must be configured in a way that allows the user to override this delay function.

  • Smart chargepoints must prompt users to input a charging schedule during first use. In addition, smart chargepoints must be pre-set to offer users a charging schedule that by default prevents EVs from charging at peak times. During first use, the user must be given the opportunity to edit or remove this setting. The user must also be able to remove or edit this default setting at a later date. Peak times will be defined in legislation as 8am to 11am and 4pm to 10pm on weekdays.

  • Smart chargepoints must also be capable of monitoring and metering energy consumption. The chargepoint must measure and calculate the electricity consumed and/or exported and the duration of the charging event while giving the consumer a way to view this information.

Phase 2 Outcomes

The Response outlines that the longer-term Phase 2 approach is less-defined than Phase 1, however, the Government remains committed to delivering the four objectives that underpin smart charging policy (consumer uptake, innovation, grid protection and consumer protection).

Phase 2 will build on and complement the first phase but will consider requirements beyond the chargepoints themselves. In particular, Phase 2 will consider all organisations performing a “load controlling” role, including electricity aggregators and chargepoint operators. Whilst the Response states that the smart metering solution remains the lead option for delivering smart charging in Phase 2, Government will explore alternative or complementary solutions.

As Phase 1 will not fully address interoperability, nor fully mitigate energy system risks like cyber security and grid stability these issues will have to be addressed comprehensively in Phase 2.

EV Chargepoint data

The Government considers that there are significant benefits to be derived from opening up and sharing energy data including increased access to public EV chargepoint data. A consultation has been published on this topic (see our previous Law-Now here) with a response due in the Autumn of 2021 and legislation expected to follow later in the year.  The Government is continuing to investigate opening up private chargepoint data and whether this data should be shared with specified parties as mentioned in the Government’s Energy Digitalisation Strategy published here.

Comment and next steps

The detail of Phase 1 will be welcomed by chargepoint manufacturers, although it remains to be seen how these requirements will be drafted in regulation. Many of the complex and controversial issues such as interoperability have been ‘kicked further down the road’ into Phase 2. Industry may have been hoping for more detail and certainty at this stage, however this will now be expected in 2022.

It is proposed that most requirements Phase 1 regulations will be enforceable 6 months after the laying date, which is expected to be Spring 2022. However, as they may require more extensive hardware and software changes, the cyber security requirements will be enforced from 12 months after the laying date.