Thursday, April 18, 2024
Smart Charging

Hive EV Charging and the future of charging technology

Hive EV Charging is already making home charging simpler and significantly more cost-efficient thanks to its easy-to-use smart charger, ultra-intuitive app and flexible tariffs.

Hive isn’t solely making EV charging easier and cheaper today, though. It’s also looking to the future of charging – trying to find pioneering new ways to make it even easier, even more cost-effective and, crucially, even more sustainable, helping you lower the impact of your EV charging on both the power grid and the planet.

From virtual power plants and Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology to ‘anytime’ EV charging tariff add-ons, this charging technology has the potential to save billions in avoided infrastructure upgrades* and with that, cheaper bills for everybody, whether you’re an EV owner or not. Let’s take a step into the future and see what’s on offer.

As electric cars get more popular, more abundant in choice, more fun to drive and easier to use, more and more people are thinking about making the switch. In fact, a recent study by Hive revealed that 54% of you are planning to purchase an EV in the next five years.

As the average UK car spends 96% of the time parked up and 73% of that time at home, it’s clear that home charging is the most cost-effective and sustainable way to charge an EV. That’s especially true with overnight charging when energy rates are traditionally cheapest if you have a time of use tariff. The energy you use is also more likely to come from renewable sources, which is an added benefit of overnight top-ups.

But what if you want a bit more flexibility? Take shift workers who need to charge during the day. Why can’t they make the most of the cost savings of home charging as well? Enter, then, the SmartCharge Saver tariff add-on, which Hive has been trialling with over 70 customers.

Working in tandem with a Hive EV smart charger and any British Gas home energy tariff, it uses an optimised scheduling system to charge your electric car at the most convenient and practical times for you – negating the need to charge solely overnight for the most cost-effective rates. Think of it as a smart automated time of use tariff.

How does it work? Well, all you need to do is tell your Hive app when you need your car ready by, and it does the rest automatically. SmartCharge Saver customers then receive a discount of 2p per kWh whenever their electric car is plugged in continuously for up to 6 hours, and a 7p per kWh discount if the car is plugged in for longer. It’s as simple as that.

According to Hive, that translates to a maximum saving of £2.10 per full charge for the 30kWh battery of a small electric car and up to up to £4.20 saving for the 60kWh battery in a larger, longer-range family-friendly EV.

Subject to the results from the early trial, the SmartCharge Saver tariff could be available to Hive’s broader customer base as early as 2023. One thing is clear, smart charging is set to get even smarter, even more flexible and even more cost-effective as a result.

Vehicle-to-grid technology (also known as V2G) may sound futuristically “Trekky”, but it’s actually a simple solution to a broader challenge that also presents an intriguing opportunity for saving even more money on home charging.

With electric vehicles already accounting for 16% of new car sales (and numbers expected to rise by 300% in the lead up to 2030), the challenge is that charging an ever-increasing number of EVs will ultimately impact electricity networks. The UK National Grid already publicises big spikes in power usage as people go to plug in their kettles whenever there’s a cliff-hanger on a soap or drama. Now imagine if you were to plug in every electric car on the road between 6pm and 7pm.

Instead, why not use the fact that parked and plugged-in EVs are effectively on-demand batteries to rebalance the grid instead? Using V2G, EV owners can top-up at off-peak times when energy is cheapest and greenest. They can then store that energy in their cars. Finally – at peak times – they can either use the energy stored in the car’s battery to power their home or put it back into the grid to earn credits that save money on their bill.

That’s the theory. But how does V2G work in practice? Well, first you need a V2G-enabled electric car that can send charge back to a charger, as well as receiving it. Current models to feature this include the Nissan Leaf and updated Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid. Then, you need a bi-directional wall-mounted smart charger capable of sending power to your car’s battery and back to your home. Lastly, you need a three-phase connection installed in your home.