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MPs: Charge electric car batteries ‘little but often’ to avoid blackouts

A report by the Commons’ Transport Select Committee called for pricing to be used to change drivers’ charging habits.

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Electric vehicle owners should be incentivised to recharge batteries ‘ittle but often’ to avoid blackouts, according to MPs (John Walton/PA)

Electric vehicle owners should be incentivised to recharge batteries ‘ittle but often’ to avoid blackouts, according to MPs (John Walton/PA)

Electric vehicle owners should be incentivised to recharge batteries ‘ittle but often’ to avoid blackouts, according to MPs (John Walton/PA)

Electric car owners should be incentivised to recharge batteries “little but often” to avoid blackouts, according to MPs.

A report by the Commons Transport Select Committee called for pricing to be used to change drivers’ charging habits to ensure the growing demand for electricity can be met.

The committee urged the Government to take measures to encourage drivers to top up batteries frequently rather than recharging from empty to full in one go, which puts more strain on the electrical grid.

The report said: “The Government must mandate that industry uses price as a lever to move consumer behaviour away from conventional refuelling habits towards ‘a little but often’ approach.”

The alternative will be blackouts in parts of the countryHuw Merriman, Transport Committee chairman

Motorists should be persuaded to charge cars at times when the National Grid can meet total demand, such as overnight, the MPs said.

During its inquiry, the committee heard evidence from energy industry representatives that smart chargers – which alter the amount of electricity sent to a car depending on overall demand – will play a crucial role.

The report called on ministers to work with National Grid to identify locations where the system will not be able to cope with additional usage.

It stressed the importance of protecting consumers recharging in public from excessive fees and a requirement to hold multiple accounts.

Tory MP Huw Merriman, who chairs the committee, said: “Unless the National Grid gains more capacity, consumer behaviour will have to alter so that charging takes place when supply can meet the additional demand.

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Huw Merriman (Victoria Jones/PA)

Huw Merriman (Victoria Jones/PA)

PA

Huw Merriman (Victoria Jones/PA)

“The alternative will be blackouts in parts of the country. We also cannot have a repeat of the broadband and mobile ‘not spot’ lottery which would mean those in remote parts cannot join the electric vehicle revolution.

“To help consumers see their route to a zero emission world, choosing to run an electric vehicle must be as seamless as possible.”

The Government plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, with hybrids prohibited from 2035.

Just 11% of new car registrations last year were for ultra-low emission cars.

There will be an uptick in demand for energy so we need to ensure that we are future proofing, putting the right wires in the right place for future demandGraeme Cooper

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “Our vision is to have one of the best electric vehicle infrastructure networks in the world.

“As more people make the switch to electric, we want charge points to be accessible and affordable right across the country, which is why we welcome the Transport Select Committee’s report.

“Alongside our new ambitious phase-out dates, we have announced £1.3 billion to accelerate the rollout of charging infrastructure, targeting support on motorways and major A roads to dash any anxiety around long journeys, and installing more on-street charge points near homes and workplaces to make charging as easy as refuelling a petrol or diesel car.”

Graeme Cooper, head of future markets at National Grid, said: “We’ll be working with Government to map out where critical grid capacity is needed to enable the faster rollout of charging points.

“But also looking a step ahead to the needs of electric or hydrogen trucks and other forms of transport.

“There will be an uptick in demand for energy so we need to ensure that we are future proofing, putting the right wires in the right place for future demand.”

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