By Matthew Lumsdon, CEO, Connected Energy

Not surprisingly, charging points for electric and hybrid vehicles in the UK are not on par with their growing number of roads; The Society of Car Manufacturers and Dealers (SMMT) says that the ratio between charging points and charging vehicles has deteriorated by 31% in 2020.

Last November, the government promised to install 145,000 refueling points in England each year by 2030. In addition, other new legislation will require large organizations such as hospitals and supermarkets to install refueling points from now on.

However, the obvious question is how will the electricity be controlled for all these chargers? There are already reports of EV charging stations backed by diesel generators, which would certainly be crazy in practice. A recent Versinetic report highlighted some of the most significant gaps and conditions in the industry that threaten the charging infrastructure needed to meet the 2030 targets for electric vehicles.

A new way of thinking

When sites are confined to the grid, with an electrical connection that is not large enough to deliver more power, a battery storage system is the solution. The National Network describes battery storage technology as essential for accelerating the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy; Battery storage systems will play an increasingly important role between green energy supply and meeting electricity needs. ”

Battery energy storage systems (BESS) are devices that allow energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind energy, or from “normal” mains power, to be stored and then released when energy is most needed.

BESS can be a cheaper and more environmentally friendly solution than upgrading network supplies to overcome network constraints. Battery storage units can be made from used batteries for electric vehicles, giving a vital second life to the batteries. At the same time, they help to solve the limitations of the network and can supply green energy to the EV charging points.

Dundee City Council, recently named “Europe’s Most Visionary Electric Vehicle City”, was the first place in the UK to install BESS at EV charging points, with units made from used Renault Kangoo batteries supplied by Connected Energy – developer and installer of BESS-based second life batteries.

The main challenge for making second-life batteries a success for BESS is connecting the EV value circuit and storing energy. This requires industry harmonization, as well as enabling technologies and new business models, such as those developed by Connected Energy.

Cranfield University, for example, has just launched the UK’s largest BESS system, which uses all second-life batteries. It will install three 300 kW battery modules, each containing 24 second-life Renault Kangoo car batteries throughout its campus. What we call a “thin film of energy storage”, this approach to smaller distributed local energy systems will help build national energy security and add flexibility.

Extend the life of EV batteries

The case for extending the life of batteries is clear – to reduce waste and maximize the use of valuable resources in the battery. The scientific argument for saving carbon is just as clear. Research conducted by the University of Lancaster proves that the use of 360kWh BESS for first life can benefit from 329 tons of CO2 lifelong emissions of the system, the second life of BESS benefits from 473t CO2e.

The quality of the batteries is constantly improving, so the range is constantly increasing, but the point at which they are no longer considered fit for life in a vehicle is when they reach ~ 75% health (SoH). However, this does not mean that they are ready for the trash. They still have significant charging capacity and can be used in BESS until the battery reaches 50% SoH. This can mean up to ten years more life for this battery – hence the huge impact on carbon savings and Connected Energy’s mission to help maximize the value of the resources built into EV batteries by working directly with EV OEMs. like Renault.

Especially for the automotive industry, what makes sense in the UK is the EV charging infrastructure based on small-scale BESS. Localized system in which energy is stored by solar panels in BESS and the network connection is controlled by the BESS management system – the ideal solution for moving forward on the road to the transition to green energy.

Image of John Cameron for Unsplash

The biggest questions about EV charging in the UK now

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