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What is urban charging and why can it be a problem for electric vehicle owners?

By OVO Energy Tuesday 30 January 2018

 

Why do we want more electric vehicles in cities?

Most people know that air pollution is a problem in cities – especially anyone who’s tried to cycle down a busy main road during rush hour. In the UK, air pollution contributes to 40,000 premature deaths every year, with more than 9,000 in London.

Electric vehicles present a huge opportunity to turn this around, as they don’t produce ‘direct emissions’ – the kind that come from the tailpipe of a car. This could be especially beneficial in cities, where cars (and therefore direct emissions) are all squashed together in a concentrated area. Electric cars are also greener than petrol and diesel cars, thanks to the amount of renewable energy that now powers the grid. Switching to electric vehicles could therefore set us well on our way to meeting our carbon emissions targets.

 

The urban charging problem

The challenge in cities is in finding a place to charge. A petrol or diesel car can fill up in a matter of minutes, but even the fastest EV chargers takes 20 minutes to get to 80% charged. This means it’s far more practical to charge while parked up. The issue is that many drivers in cities don’t have off-street parking, so can’t install a home charging point.

If you can’t charge your electric vehicle at home or at work, then your options are limited to public charging points – which might not be anywhere near your house. And as EVs become more popular, these charging points could get congested.

 

Where can I charge my car in a city at the moment?

The good news is that public charging points are being installed at quite a rapid pace, with almost 3,000 new points added to the network in 2017. The points are run by different charging networks – some are free, others are pay as you go, and others are free if you’re a subscriber. You can see the location and details of each individual charging point on Zap-Map.

If you’re regularly using public charging points, then you might be interested in our EV Everywhere bundle which gives you a free subscription to the UK’s largest network, POLAR Plus, and can save an EV owner more than £300 over two years. You can see all the details here.

 

How will we charge electric vehicles in the future?

Urban charging is becoming easier: public charging networks are growing, and rapid charge points are becoming faster and more widespread. There were only 844 rapid chargers (the ones that can charge most batteries in under 30 minutes) in the UK in 2014, but this has grown to 2,734 at the start of 2018.

One promising solution comes from a Berlin-based technology company, ubitricity. They’ve developed a socket which can be cheaply installed into street lamps, allowing EV owners to plug in right outside their front door, and track their charging with an app. We’ve been involved in a trial of their technology in Kensington and Chelsea.

We’re not the only ones looking into lamp-post charging though, and we’re confident that on-street charging will become more and more prominent as new innovations like ubitricity spring up.

Wherever you’re charging in a city, it’s likely that in the future it will be ‘smart’. With smart charging technology like OVO’s VNet platform, eventually drivers will plug in their EVs and the tech will wait until energy demand (and therefore prices) drops, before it starts charging. This keeps energy bills as low as possible and is also better for the environment, as the EV is charging when electricity is abundant and generated from renewables. It’ll even be possible for EV owners to sell electricity back to the grid, through vehicle-to-grid charging, which in turn will help manage national energy supply and demand.

This fancy sci-fi stuff will happen automatically, so all you’ll need to do is plug in. And, at some point, you won’t even need to do that. Technology is being developed that can charge your car when it parks on top of a wireless charging ‘pad’, without plugging anything in. Battery capacities are also rapidly increasing, which means you’ll need to think about charging less and less.

Thanks to these clever technologies, driving an electric vehicle in a city will soon be cheaper and easier than driving a combustion engine car.

 

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O​VO​ Energy Ltd, registered office 1 Rivergate Temple Quay Bristol, BS1 6ED, company no. 06890795 registered in England and Wales, VAT No. 100119879

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Please see below for full terms and conditions on 33% renewable electricity, 3% interest rewards, exit fees and saving claims.

 

1Monthly cost - Representative monthly direct debit costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying in advance by direct debit, including online discount.  All rates correct as of 24/1/2018, but may go up or down.

2Weekly cost - Representative weekly costs based on a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas).  All rates correct as of 22/11/2017, but may go up or down.

3Pay Monthly Savings claims: Saving based on the estimated annual cost of OVO Two year fixed tariff for a non-economy-7, dual-fuel, medium user (3100 kWhs elec. and 12500 kWhs gas) paying monthly in advance by direct debit, including online discount. Comparisons made against the average of the Big 6 standard variable tariffs with equivalent features. All rates correct as of 06/2/2018.“The Big 6” are British Gas, Scottish Power, SSE, Npower, E.ON and EDF.

4Pay As You Go Savings are based on the average estimated annual costs for new PAYG OVO customers quoted through the OVO website (based on household and/or consumption information provided by those customers), compared to their current supplier and tariff. Comparisons taken between 01/01/2016 and 11/10/16. Incl VAT. Actual savings may vary according to your current supplier or tariff, individual tariff options, household information, consumption and location. 

We include almost twice as much renewable electricity as the national average: At least 33% of electricity in all of our tariffs comes from renewable sources. The national average, according to Ofgem as at March 2014 was 16.7%. For more information please visit this page.

33% of your electricity comes from renewable sources: 33% renewable electricity as standard as of 1st April 2015. Renewable electricity is generated from wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, hydro, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and biogas.

OVO Interest Rewards: Interest Rewards are paid on credit balances of customers paying by monthly Direct Debit. It is calculated at 3% in your first year, 4% in your second year and 5% in your third year (and every year thereafter) if you pay by Direct Debit. Interest Rewards are paid monthly based on the number of days you’re in credit and the amount left in your account after you’ve paid your bill. Full terms apply: https://www.ovoenergy.com/terms

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94% of surveyed customers would recommend us: OVO conducted a survey of their customers in between 1st January 2016 and 15th April 2016. Out of 15,312 customers who responded, over 94% rated OVO 6+ when asked 'how likely would you be to recommend us to a friend and family, on a scale of 1 to 10.

uSwitch's Energy Supplier of the Year 2017: OVO energy was voted and awarded  'Energy Supplier of the year' and best for: Overall Customer Satisfaction, Most Likely to be Recommended, Value for Money, Best Deal for You, Customer Service, Billing Services, Energy Efficiency, Meter Services, Online Services, Green Services and Transfer Process. OVO Energy scored a 96% customer satisfaction score.

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