As the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) continues to grow, it’s even more vital that sufficient charging options are available at home, in workplaces, and on the road. All in a bid to ease the transition to EVs and encourage more drivers to make the switch writes Naomi Nye, Head of Sales at Drax Electric Vehicles

Amidst the excitement surrounding new charging innovations, the question remains: are options like wireless charging viable in the UK’s future?

My view leans towards cautious optimism. Exploring and delving into the potential of EV charging is an exciting journey, with various models promising to transform how we power our vehicles. While challenges such as efficiency, standardisation, and infrastructure installation remain, recent developments suggest that the future of EV charging is revolutionary, but it’s not a quick turnaround.

How far are we in the EV charging journey?

We now have over 55,000 charging points across 31,445 locations in the UK, another significant increase of 46% year-on-year. But for the nation to sustain the phase-out of internal combustion engines by 2035, we need nearly 200,000 more charging points at the very least—a staggering 363% increase from where we are now.

That’s not to say we can’t get there. Businesses, industries, and manufacturers are tirelessly working to develop and roll out new charging points nationwide. Both public and privately-owned charge points are being installed every day. However, the most exciting developments will be the improvements in charging technology.

Urban charging for the masses

Central London, Manchester, and Birmingham are all urban hubs for businesspeople, drivers, tourists, and households alike. Take London as an example: roughly 70% of people do not have their own parking space –an unsurprising figure. However, the development of urban charging has been a great one to watch.

Paving the way for convenient on-street charging in built-up public areas has been a priority for many EV charging providers, and there’s been a significant rise since the first lamppost charger installation years ago. Last year, data showed that at least 60% of on-street chargers were lamppost devices. By integrating charging capabilities into existing infrastructure, cities can enhance the accessibility of electric mobility.

Wireless charging is everywhere: could EVs be next?

The future of EV charging will need to be fast and convenient. Wireless charging for electric vehicles is a promising advancement in this space, offering a multitude of benefits, but it has its challenges. Wireless charging will simplify the charging process by eliminating the need for physical connectors, providing EV owners with a seamless and convenient experience. This technology enables integration into a range of environments, like home garages, public parking lots, and even dynamic charging lanes on roads. Wireless charging can also reduce wear and tear on traditional plug-in connectors, improving long-term reliability and reducing maintenance costs.

Researchers have been working on this technology for a while, and significant developments have been made. For example, Oak Ridge National Laboratory has recently set a new power record for wireless charging, recharging an EV to 100 kW with 96% efficiency.

However, challenges lie ahead in this journey. There’s still lower charging efficiency compared to wired charging, higher upfront installation costs and standardisation issues that must be addressed. Optimising charging speeds and compatibility with different vehicle models also remain areas for ongoing research and development. Despite these barriers, continued progression in wireless charging technology holds promise for enhancing the accessibility of charging infrastructure in the future.

Giving back to the energy ecosystem

We’re in a transformative era where electric vehicles are now integrating into our energy network. Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) charging, the two-way flow of energy from the grid to vehicles and vice versa, is a prime example of this integration.

Alongside broader electrification, we know that EVs will create extra demand for power. This rise in demand is likely to affect the price of electricity, but price volatility creates an opportunity for businesses to profit through optimising bi-directional V2G charging. Most cars, including fleets, tend to be unused for over twelve hours a day. V2G technology means that fleets can charge when energy prices are low, either overnight or when there’s a surplus of renewable energy available on the network.

In one of National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios, V2G charging could provide up to 38GW of flexible power from 5.5 million EVs. That extra electricity would cover all the extra peak power the UK needs in the highest-demand scenario for 2050. However, while bidirectional charge points are currently available, they’re not yet viable at a sufficient scale or an appropriate price. In the near future, V2G technology will become more affordable, and organisations with EV fleets will be in a key position to benefit.

We’re helping organisations across the UK transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to EVs and develop a reliable, future-proofed electrification strategy. By trialling technologies like V2G, we’re beginning to understand how they can work in tandem and the future of commercial energy. Everything we learn will help us support businesses – now and in the future.

The future of EV charging is budding with innovation and promise. Urban charging, smart grid integration, and wireless options are key pillars in shaping sustainable and efficient infrastructure for future generations. By embracing these technologies and addressing the associated challenges, we can accelerate the transition towards a greener, electric future.

It’s time to charge ahead into a new era of mobility, and we’re looking forward to it.


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