From May 2021, new electric vehicle (EV) charge points installed at home and in the workplace will be pre-programmed to switch off during peak hours to ease pressure on the National Grid.

As more company car drivers make the switch to EVs away from diesel and petrol there will also be a ‘randomised delay’ of up to 30 minutes during periods of high demand. New chargers will not operate from 8 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 10 pm.

Owners and fleets will be able to override the pre-set times to support night workers and people on different schedules and it has been reported that public and rapid chargers, on motorways and A-roads, will be exempt.

This announcement follows MPs on the transport committee warning that unless charging habits change, the charging needs from millions of new EVs will cause blackouts to parts of the country.

In a report, Zero emission vehicles, published by the transport committee in July 2021, the MPs set out a series of recommendations to Government to boost the production and purchase of EVs.

The Government announced it would legislate to ensure electric car chargers are built into all new homes and offices.

Tanya Sinclair, policy director for UK and Ireland at ChargePoint, commented: “Concerns surrounding the UK’s grid to support the charging of electric vehicles is mounting.

“The challenge for the Government, and perhaps the wider electricity system, is ensuring the ‘smartness’ in every charger is actively used by consumers, and managing the load represented by the legacy charging infrastructure already in the field which is not smart.”

The National Grid has estimated that 80% of EV drivers will use smart charging by 2050. This proposed measure will help balance almost half of the UK's energy demands brought on by the move to zero emissions driving.

It says that around 45% of homes will actively help to balance the grid, offering up to 38GW of flexible electricity to help manage peaks and fill troughs in demand.

Using smart changing, EV owners can plug in their vehicles and a management system will top up the vehicle at times that will be most beneficial to manage energy demand. Drivers and fleet operators can manage their charging stations remotely, implement new features automatically, and gather data about how chargers are being used and by whom.

A Government consultation on Electric Vehicle Smart Charging back in 2019 was the first airing of the idea of a default off-peak charging setting.

In its response to the consultation, it said that many respondents raised concerns about defining a specific off-peak time period in legislation, suggesting it could result in a secondary peak in demand.

The Government responded, saying it will adopt a more ‘nuanced approach’ by mandating that smart charge points must prompt users to input a charging schedule and they 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, it said, plus be able to remove or edit this default setting later.

The Government’s suggested defined peak times (in legislation as 8am to 11am and 4pm to 10pm on weekdays) is consistent both with its internal projections of expected EV demand and with various external studies of EV charging patterns, it says.

It explains that defining a peak time period in legislation instead of an off-peak period could encourage greater variation in approach amongst charge point sellers, thereby helping to mitigate the risk of a default mode requirement causing secondary peaks in demand.

Importantly, it adds, mandating that users must be informed of and prompted to edit the pre-set charging schedule during first use of the chargepoint will help mitigate the risk that any default setting causes confusion and negatively impacts the user experience.

The consumer override and edit functions will ensure that users can turn off or edit their charging schedule, for example where they wish to sign-up to a DSR service such as a smart tariff.

The upcoming 2021 Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan will outline the steps that Government is taking to help drive the uptake of smart charging offers, including work to increase consumer confidence.

Ben Fletcher, associate director of EV at Moixa, said:

"Concerns surrounding the grid being able to support charging of electric vehicles aren’t new and the Government’s proposed plans around smart charger capabilities are a good way of answering this. The challenge is ensuring consumers are given the right tools to put them in control, and allow them to intelligently charge in an easy, flexible way that is convenient for them.

"Intelligent EV charging not only allows individuals greater control over the power in their vehicle but also enables greater access to cheaper, greener energy.  In turn, this ensures that drivers can decide when they want their vehicle to be ready by and the system then optimises when the vehicle charges."

Fletcher went on to explain that Moixa, through its Smart Battery hardware and Gridshare software, facilitates smart energy storage and sharing: "We facilitate and interpret interactions between energy storage devices and the grid, enabling data driven optimisation,"

"This means we can alleviate the demand on the grid and pave the way for smart EV charging, as well as help companies manage energy storage using advanced analytical data.

“Intelligent home charging is critical to help EV owners save money on their energy bill by tapping into cheaper energy rates while also enabling more renewable energy on the grid by integrating with increasingly agile tariffs."