How smart charging is a key enabler of sustainability

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ev.energy’s Nick Woolley highlights how councils and building owners can use smart charging to manage energy demand.

In an era where sustainability has become paramount, local authorities, housing associations, and commercial building owners are emerging as pivotal players in the quest for a greener planet. Recognising the pressing need for environmentally conscious practices, these entities are actively seeking innovative solutions to address the challenges posed by escalating energy demand.

The UK’s growing energy demand puts a lot of pressure on the grid. Considering the ZEV mandate has come into force in January 2024 and the projected uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) in the coming years, energy demand is only expected to increase over time. But the more we consume energy, the more needs to be produced, which when not fuelled by renewable sources poses a significant threat to our environment.

At peak times, when electricity consumption is at its highest, the power grid can experience significant stress as it struggles to meet the load. In extreme cases, this risks potential blackouts. In order to meet this demand, it is not sustainable to rely on high-carbon energy sources.

And while the integration of renewable energy sources will reduce the amount of carbon associated with grid pressure, this cannot be the sole solution to create future-proof grid infrastructure.

The promise of smart charging

This is where smart charging can make a difference.

Defined as the intelligent management of EV charging, smart charging not only addresses the needs of the burgeoning EV market but also plays a crucial role in alleviating stress on the electric grid, minimising energy waste, and promoting the integration of renewable energy sources.

Smart charging is a beacon of hope in reducing peak loads during high-demand periods. By strategically optimising the charging schedules of EVs, stress on the grid is alleviated, preventing overloads and enhancing the resilience of local energy infrastructure. The benefits of reduced peak loads extend beyond immediate relief, fostering long-term sustainability and reliability in energy distribution.

What does this look like in practice? Currently, most drivers plug in their EVs in the evenings. This coincides with the natural peak in domestic energy demand when many households cook dinner, watch TV, shower, use the dishwasher or the washing machine, for example. This causes a significant strain on the energy grid.

Smart charging goes beyond the simple act of plugging in an EV; it optimises energy usage. Through advanced algorithms and real-time data analytics, smart charging ensures that energy is used efficiently. This allows drivers to power up the battery in their EV when energy is cheapest and most environmentally sustainable.

Crucially, smart charging acts as a bridge between EVs and renewable energy generation. By synchronising charging with periods of high renewable energy availability, such as during sunny or windy days, smart charging maximises the utilisation of green energy. This synergy emphasises the pivotal role of EVs in promoting sustainability, paving the way for a future where our transportation systems are powered by clean and renewable energy sources.

Playing a part in the smart charging revolution

But how can local authorities, housing associations, and commercial building owners play a part in the smart charging revolution?

One way is spearheading educational initiatives to inform residents and tenants about the benefits of smart charging, fostering awareness and encouraging the adoption of EVs.

Also, by investing in smart charging infrastructure, such as public charging stations and communal charging points in housing complexes and commercial parking facilities, these stakeholders can provide accessible and convenient charging options. Creating partnerships with EV charging service providers and exploring collaborations with local utilities will enhance the seamless integration of smart charging stations.

Local authorities, housing associations, and commercial building owners can derive significant advantages by embracing smart charging solutions for EVs. For example, buying into smart charging positions them as contributors to the global shift towards net zero carbon emissions. Community engagement receives a boost through the provision of convenient and environmentally friendly charging options.

The adoption of smart charging, particularly solutions compliant with Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), further future-proofs those in the property space – keeping housing associations and commercial building owners at the forefront of the evolving electric mobility landscape.

Working together

To achieve these sustainability goals, collaboration among stakeholders is key. Local authorities, housing associations, and commercial building owners can work hand in hand with technology providers, like ev.energy, to implement smart charging infrastructure. Such partnerships create a synergy that not only benefits the environment but also enhances energy efficiency and reduces operational costs.

For more information about smart charging, visit ev.energy