Charge electric cars smartly to take pressure off national grid – minister

Electric cars are putting increasing pressure on the UK’s power grids, making it vital they are recharged at the right time of day, a minister has said.

John Hayes, transport minister, said it was important that such battery-powered cars were topped up in smart ways to avoid unduly stressing the energy system.

He said he hoped the accelerating uptake of electric cars, which registration figures show are growing faster than conventional new cars, could catalyse a wider debate on how best to manage the UK’s energy demand.

“We know the demand for electric vehicles places the national grid under pressure. It’s critically important – we are working on this. It’s particularly important that we charge smart, so we flex demand and take advantage of spare capacity,” Hayes told an audience in London.

The minister joked that a competition to design a better-looking electric car charger could see the winning entry nicknamed the “Hayes hook-up”.

SSE, one of the UK’s big six energy companies which also runs local power grids in Scotland, said its electric car programmes found most owners charged their batteries immediately after returning home from work. That coincides with when energy demand is already at its highest point in the day, which has led the company to trial time-shifting the charging to miss the peak.

The utility said such “demand-side response”, where a car may not start charging until a few hours after a driver has plugged it in, when demand is…


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