David Williams, VP for transactional business, Schneider Electric UK & Ireland looks at electrifying UK vehicles with new EV regulation.

The United Kingdom is taking strides towards extensive decarbonisation. The government's goal of reducing emissions by 78% by 2035 in comparison to 1990 levels, along with its commitment to achieving net zero by 2050, has unsurprisingly ushered in a fresh wave of green regulations.

Government schemes, such as phasing out gas boilers in favour of electric heat pumps and mandating EV charging points in all new constructions, underscore electrification as a primary catalyst for attaining these ambitious objectives. The government remains resolute in its pledge to discontinue the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, further propelling consumers toward electric cars.

Looking towards the future, the UK's journey towards net zero and widespread EV adoption relies heavily on intelligent technology. The government is showcasing its unwavering support for this new era of digitisation and connectivity in residences, structures, and vehicles. In this evolving landscape of heightened regulations and government requirements, electricians and contractors must seek guidance from respected industry leaders to navigate the realms of sustainability and energy management.

It’s time to get smart

In the last year, with soaring energy prices and the cost-of-living crisis, keeping a keen eye on energy and spending has never been so important for building owners and consumers. Now, more than ever, end-users are concerned with how efficiently they use their energy, where it comes from, and how to cut down their bill. What’s more, with the boom in hybrid working reducing the number of employees on site and the expanding demand for EVs, industry leaders must now also deliver better energy management solutions to balance changing needs for buildings of any size. It is up to them to reduce the pressure on end-users by considering the additional load from buildings and the potential for larger energy bills.

Smart technology gives building and homeowners the tools they need to take their energy efficiency into their own hands. In fact, smart building functionalities are proven to deliver a 30% reduction in energy usage by giving customers access to valuable information on their energy use. Having total visibility and control of our energy consumption means that consumers are fast turning into prosumers – those that can make and store their own energy from renewable sources.

This is enabled by smart technology and new infrastructure that requires installation and input from electricians and contractors. It is their responsibility to support and educate customers through this transition by directing them to more sustainable solutions that work for their needs. In the move to more energy-efficient charging and enhanced energy management for building owners, industry leaders can prove invaluable, guiding electricians and contractors in the right direction.

Intelligent technology is a prerequisite to compliance

As part of the country’s large-scale electrification, the UK government is amping up pressure for the rapid rollout of EVs. By 2030, there will be over 169 million EVs on UK roads and manufacturers are starting to put their own targets in place to deliver more EV and hybrid vehicles than ever before.

As a result, there is a need for smart infrastructure to handle this increased charging demand and ensure that the rise in EVs is truly sustainable. This means reducing the strain on the grid with load balancing, as well as ensuring that the electricity is coming from renewable sources. By combining the power of smart technology with EV charging stations, it makes them safer, more reliable, and above all, more sustainable.

With new realms of EV charging capabilities, the government has released a new wave of regulations that aims to help ease the strain on the grid and give more power to the end-user for faster charging. This includes obligatory smart functionality in charging points that allows drivers to charge their EVs at periods of lower demand, or when there is more clean energy available. The ability to send and receive information across a secure network to keep distributors informed is now required, as well as demand-side response services, where charging points must be able to defer charging or vary their rates in response to external signals. This will allow energy firms to offer additional services, such as variable rate electricity pricing when demand is lower or renewable energy supply is higher, by applying a random delay of up to 10 minutes at the start or end of a schedule. With governments cracking down on requirements, it’s important to ensure each new piece of technology is aligned with the new mandates, such as the Schneider Electric EVlink Pro AC, which is fully compliant with the latest regulations.

The government’s regulations also extend to electricity supplier interoperability, where charging points must be able to retain their smart functionality even if the user changes to a different electricity supplier. They also account for a loss of communications, ensuring that vehicles can carry on charging even if the charging point loses connection to the user’s communications network, as well as advanced safety features and a mandatory Statement of Compliance document that signifies that the charging point operates in line with the new smart charge regulations.

Charging points already exist that are fully compliant with these requirements, but it’s up to contractors to educate building owners about these new regulations and the infrastructure required. For instance, landlords of multi-tenancy residential buildings could use smart EV charging for more accurate and fairer cost allocation, so residents only pay for what they use. Tradespeople need to be able to trust vendors to have their finger on the pulse of the latest trends and innovations to ensure that landlords and building owners are getting the most out of their tech and are fully compliant.

Driving EV adoption through innovation

The imperative for a revamped electrical infrastructure is crystal clear. As nations like the UK transition to renewable energy sources to alleviate the strain on the grid, the pivotal role of smart technology cannot be overstated in expediting the journey towards achieving net-zero emissions, particularly in the realm of electric vehicle charging. Placing trust in industry leaders is paramount to staying abreast of the latest regulatory shifts and updates, ensuring that EV installations remain at the forefront of innovation.

The future of smart EV charging stations hinges on their capacity to embody safety, sustainability, dependability, and adaptability to diverse user requirements, thereby catalysing widespread adoption. Electricians and contractors wield the necessary tools and expertise to steer end users toward the manifold advantages offered by these advanced charging solutions.