One of the most important things about electric vehicles is the charging issue, yes battery life is important, but where and how to charge them is by far the most talked about subject. A new study undertaken by Ofgem, among others, has been looking at the effect of multiple cars in one street all charging at the same time.
If there is one thing that gets talked about a lot when it comes to EVs it is the charging infrastructure, but this nearly always involves talk of service areas and petrol stations. What these conversations often seem to forget is what happens not out and about but at home when you charge your car. It is all fine and good when you are the only proud owner of an EV in your road but what happens when everyone has one and everyone needs to charge their car overnight. Then multiply this to every street in the country and you may just start to see the issue.
Electric avenue is a project that was set up to mimic this exact situation on a street level. The idea is that a small road of people have all been using EVs, primarily Nissan Leafs, and the researchers can analyse what happens to the electricity supply when they are all put on charge over night. It has always been clear to power companies and councils that there would be an issue here, especially when rapid charging appeared.
What the study showed was that there was indeed a serious pull on the power and unless managed this could become an issue. One of the main take away facts is that in some areas local authorities will need to invest in the power lines. Depending on where the houses are very much related to the quality and nature of the cables, rural areas often have older cables and far less efficient systems, whereas new build estates in sub urban areas are likely to have far less work to do to improve. In some cases very little will need to be done but in others the story is not so good.
There is a system on trial called Esprit which actually monitors the power being used and manipulates the power available to cars charging according to the local areas needs. This will stop any power cuts and brown outs but it would also mean some people might not have a fully charged car when they head to work in the morning.
It seems that if the current surge in EV sales continues the authorities are going to have to do something sooner rather than later. The good news is that in many areas with back up systems like Esprit is place for emergencys there is less work needed than many would have thought. Sadly in some other areas though, there really will need to be some investment and it needs to be done properly. The rise of the EV is very important not just for the environment but also for technology and the future as a whole. If anything gets in the way of this development it will seriously effect our ability to remain mobile in the future.