An investment opportunity of up to £6 billion is available to 2040 owing to the need for millions of electric vehicle chargers at workplaces, shops and motorway services, according to a report out this week.
Released by Aurora Energy Research and supported by Eaton, NatWest, Lombard and the Renewable Energy Association, the study states the number of chargers needed at commercial and industrial (C&I) units could hit 3 million.
This would occur under a high deployment scenario with 35 million EVs on the road in Great Britain, as demand for charging facilities away from the residential sector increase.
Demand for these would be spread across fleet vans, workplace commuters, pubic car parks, and motorway stops, requiring between £2 billion to £6 billion of investment to fund the total cost of equipment and installation.
Dr. Felix Chow-Kambitsch, head of flexible energy and battery storage at Aurora said: “High electric vehicle deployment over the next twenty years will radically transform Great Britain’s energy system, stimulating innovation through a shift to ‘smart’, increasing flexibility and enhancing the role of renewables in the energy mix.
“Commercial and Industrial ‘smart’ charging has a key role to play in meeting high levels of consumer ‘away-from-home’ EV charging demand and represents an exciting development for the whole energy industry.”
To be profitable, Aurora suggests that adding a premium of £0.05-0.10/kWh above retail electricity prices for projects starting in 2030, depending on the type of application. This would generally put a charge for users to pay of around £0.20/kWh at car parks and motorway services.
This compares to the £0.30/kWh currently charged by Ecotricity’s Electric Highway network of motorway chargers, or Shell Recharge’s £0.25/kWh; a figure which upon launch was said to potentially rise to £0.49/kWh over time.
Prices like this could reduce over time as more EVs are deployed, above the ~170,000 currently driven, while additional benefits could be gained from additional technologies like vehicle to grid (V2G), energy storage or solar. While each would require additional capital, they would also open up new revenues from ancillary service, or reduced costs from electricity and grid usage.
V2G in particular could prove successful for commercial fleet charging, where overnight periods when EVs are plugged in en masse could provide considerable levels of flexibility either locally or nationally, providing returns to the business while their fleet is idle.
In the case of a motorway service station, an optimistic scenario for adding solar and storage provides a profitable business case with utilisation of four hours per day for each charging point when otherwise utilisation of six hours per day would be needed.
Nina Skorupska, chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association said: “This report is a welcome development as it emphasises to businesses and commercial property owners that they too can benefit from the great evolutions currently underway in our transport and energy sectors.
“We are happy to see the emphasis of the benefits of co-locating multiple clean technologies in this report, including solar and energy storage, as this represents a development in the maturation of the clean energy sector.”
Richard Saint, head of energy, infrastructure and industrials at NatWest, agreed that the role of such technologies will prove important for both the energy sector more widely but also the players within it.
“The electrification of road transport and the associated energy developments are rapidly becoming a top agenda item for our customers, across a variety of sectors such as utilities, industrials, retail and transport,” he said.
“Developing flexible and smart EV infrastructure will be important in order to have a strong investment case for investors.”