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Public smart charging could save EV drivers over £600 a year by 2030, according to government-backed trial

  • UK-first trial delivered by Connected Kerb provides blueprint for rolling out smart energy tariffs across public chargers – currently only available to those with off-street parking.

  • Drivers could collectively save over £4.1bn a year on the cost of public charging by 2030 – equivalent to an average of £604.65 per driver – by using smart public charging.

  • Peak energy demand could be cut by 240MW by 2030 – equivalent to boiling over 1.4m kettles.ii 

 Data released today from the UK’s first-ever trial of smart metered on-street electric vehicle (EV) chargers – Agile Streets – demonstrates that smart charging at public charge points could save drivers £604.65 per year in charging costs compared to traditional non-smart public charging – equivalent to UK-wide collective savings of over £4.1 billion a year by 2030. 

 The government-backed project, delivered by a consortium of companies including EV infrastructure specialist Connected Kerb, also shows that peak energy demand – the time of day when energy demand is greatest – would be reduced by as much as 240MW, equivalent to boiling over 1.4m kettles.iii Achieving the same peak demand reduction by using lithium-ion battery storage would cost around £83m plus an annual operating cost of £1.5m.iv Smart charging also reduces the demand on local grid connection capacity, enabling more chargers to be installed to support the UK Government’s target of installing 300,000 public EV chargers by 2030. 

EV ownership is skyrocketing, with UK registrations taking up 40% more compared to this time last year.v However, rising energy bills erode the advantage of lower running costs for EVs compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. Currently, an average EV is just 3.9p per mile cheaper to run than a petrol equivalent if charging at home, compared to 9.2p before the energy price cap increase in October.vi Home smart charging energy tariffs can help keep costs down for EV drivers, making EVs 13.5p cheaper per mile compared to ICE cars even after the October price rise, thus helping to maintain the financial benefits of driving an EV. 

62% of UK households do not have access to off-street parking or a dedicated parking space with domestic power supplyvii, meaning they must rely on public charging infrastructure to charge their EVs and therefore do not have access to smart energy tariffs. They also pay 20% VAT compared to the 5% paid on home energy. This creates a significant inequality between road users and people who can charge their vehicle at home. It further impacts the overall cost advantages of going electric, as outlined in a report commissioned by the UK Governmentviii. 

Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, said:

“The energy price crisis is a major challenge facing all industries. For the EV transition, we know that this will narrow the gap between the cost of refuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle, and the typically much lower cost of charging an EV. That’s why now is the time to focus our attention on smart charging technologies that can allow those reliant on public charging infrastructure to benefit from cheaper prices when demand for electricity is at its lowest.  

"The deployment of smart charging into public charging – to both reduce consumer costs and minimise the impact of charging on the grid – is ground-breaking. The Agile Streets trial gives us the opportunity to ensure we get smart charging right, enabling us to take all of the learnings from the trial and get ready to roll out this revolutionary infrastructure.”  

Smart metering works by enabling EVs to schedule charging to times when energy prices are cheapest, such as overnight when demand is low or on sunny and windy days when there is an abundance of cheap solar and wind energy. This reduces emissions, takes pressure off the grid at peak times and keeps costs low for drivers. By using the Agile Streets app and scheduling the time a car needs to be fully charged, drivers will have enough power to drive away when needed. 

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The Agile Streets project saw 100 Connected Kerb on-street EV chargers deployed at 17 sites across 4 local authorities – Shropshire, Hackney, Glasgow and East Lothian. Over the course of six months, 2,451 charging sessions took place, totalling 51,618 kWh of energy. These charging sessions were completed by 368 trial participants.  

Drivers had the option of a smart charging ‘ECO’ mode at 19p/kWh – which would schedule charging at the lowest-cost times of day – or a ‘boost’ mode at 33p/kWh which would immediately deliver power like a normal non-smart public charger. Charging an average 62kW Nissan LEAF from 20% to 100% using ECO mode saves drivers £6.95 per session – equivalent to a 42% saving. 

The chargers used in the Agile Streets project will be handed to the local authorities in each participating region. Connected Kerb plans to continue working on smart charging, with a view to adopting smart charging technology across as much of its network as possible. 

 The Agile Streets project is delivered by a consortium comprised of Connected Kerb, Samsung Research, Octopus Energy For Business, SMETS Design Limited, Energy Saving Trust and the Power Networks Distribution Centre. The project was awarded £1.5m by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to deliver the Beyond Off-Street Smart Meter Electric Vehicle Charging programme.   

Tim Anderson, group head of transport at Energy Saving Trust, who was responsible for monitoring and evaluation in the trial, said:

“The provision of convenient and affordable EV charging infrastructure is essential to ensure that electric vehicles are accessible to everyone. This will support the switch low carbon transport, which in turn is a key part of the UK’s transition to net zero carbon. Energy Saving Trust is proud to be part of this world-first trial, using smart metering technology to enable drivers without the option of charging at home, to take advantage of off-peak tariffs to charge their cars. We look forward to seeing the trial rolled out further and the benefits that this will bring.” 

 The full report – ‘Agile Streets – the future of flexible charging’ – can be viewed/downloaded here. A video explaining the concept can be viewed here. 

Footnotes

ii) Based on trial data, assuming a driver charges an average Nissan LEAF battery (62kW) from 20% to 100%, they could save £6.95 per session by using Agile Streets ECO smart charging option. According to the trial, most drivers charged twice a week. On average, ECO was used in 83.7% of sessions, providing savings of £604.65 per year. By 2030, there will be 11m EVs on UK roads, with 62% (6.82m) having no access to off-street parking or a dedicated parking space with domestic power supply. If each of these saved £604.65, UK drivers could collectively save £4,123,713,000 every year on charging costs by using smart charging.
iii https://www.energy-uk.org.uk/energy-industry/watt-powers.html 
iv The grid would need either 240MW of additional peaking plant (e.g. OOCT or CCGT) (at around £16.8m per annum for construction and fixed operating costs) or additional storage (a 240 MWh Lithium-ion battery could cost up to £83m for installation and an annual operating cost of £1.5m).
v https://www.smmt.co.uk/vehicle-data/car-registrations/ 
vi https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/electriccars/article-11148861/Is-cheaper-run-electric-car-petrol- energy-prices-rising.html 
vii English Housing Survey 2016 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1061865 /public-ev-charging-infrastructure-research-report.pdf 
viii Report: Inequalities in Mobility and Access in the UK Transport System.

Notes to editors 

 For more information about Connected Kerb, images and to arrange interviews, please contact: 

Will Spragg will.spragg@greenhouse.agency 07528307499 

Jessie Wilson jessie.wilson@greenhouse.agency 07763540629 

About Connected Kerb  

Connected Kerb is one of the UK’s leading charging point providers, delivering future-proof, cost-effective and sustainable EV charging solutions for the public sector, developers, fleets, workplaces, car parks and other organisations to help accelerate the transition to EVs for all. Its unique solution combines power and data at the kerb to deliver user-friendly and reliable charging and provide the foundation for connected cities and communities. 

About Agile Streets 

The Agile Streets project intends to demonstrate the use of the smart metering system and a new business model to manage on-street EV charging, incentivising EV drivers to allow a flexible charging schedule. Users will pay less if they allow an app to control when their car is charged when it is parked.  

Residential on-street EV charge points with smart metering technology will offer an optimised tariff for on-street charging, allowing users to take advantage of lower tariffs. The Agile Streets project, funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS, is delivered by a consortium comprised of Samsung Research (lead partner), Connected Kerb, Octopus Energy, SMETS Design Limited, Energy Saving Trust and the Power Networks Distribution Centre.  

About the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy 

The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) brings together responsibilities for business, industrial strategy, science, innovation, energy, and climate change. The Agile Streets project is funded by the BEIS Energy Innovation Programme and further details can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smart-meter-electric-vehicle-charging-competition-winning-projects. 

About the Smart Metering System 

The smart metering network uses a secure, dedicated system and smart meters have been designed in consultation with the UK's top security experts from industry and Government, including the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of GCHQ. 

About Energy Saving Trust  

Energy Saving Trust is an independent organisation dedicated to promoting energy efficiency, low carbon transport and sustainable energy use to address the climate emergency. Our work focuses on reaching net zero targets by taking action to reduce our energy consumption, installing new infrastructure and accelerating a move to sustainable, low carbon lifestyles. A trusted, independent voice, we have over 25 years’ sector experience. We provide leadership and expertise to deliver the benefits of achieving carbon reduction targets: warmer homes, cleaner air, healthier populations, a resilient economy and a stable climate. We empower householders to make better choices, deliver transformative programmes for governments and support businesses and community groups with strategy, research and assurance – enabling everyone to play their part in building a sustainable future.