When we talk about ‘greening the grid,’ it might send shivers down the spine of those with their finger on the pulse when it comes to electric vehicle (EV) charging.
With more vehicles needing to be charged, imagining how exclusively clean energy could meet the requirements is difficult. However, the solution to this problem is the placement of EV charging facilities, as reported in Cell Reports Physical Science.
For example, having plugs at the office and other areas where people spend most of their day ensures that there’s not a big spike in demand in the evening when the car is locked up at night. To discover solutions to EV plugins at the workplace, read our insightful blog post.
So, now we understand that the opportunity is there and should be grasped with both hands because the future will be much brighter if we can rid the grid of fossil fuels and make way for clean, renewable energy instead. This article will explore where we get renewable energy from, how it can be put into the grid, and why it matters.
Renewable energy sources for EV charging
There are many great things about renewable energy sources, the first of which is they never run out. The second is that your carbon footprint reduces when you charge an EV with clean energy. However, many aren’t aware that EVs are not innocent of producing harmful chemicals during manufacturing which we explored in our article.
Solar power is one of the most popular renewable energy sources for EV charging. Having solar panels on your roof makes it easy to generate electricity directly from the sun throughout the day. This power charges EVs when plugged into stations at home or a shared facility.
If you live in a particularly cloudy area of the planet or don’t see much sunlight daily, wind energy is another fantastic renewable energy resource. Wind turbines produce power when there is, just enough wind to get the blades to turn.
Hydro energy is not as common as solar and wind, but still effective. Flowing water, including rivers and dams, produce energy as they move. Some EV charging stations are built near hydroelectric power plants to make the most of this.
How grids make renewable energy accessible to EVs
How do we get the energy from the sun into our cars? The secret is through the electric grid. Generated renewable energy is stored in the grid and supplied to charging stations. The supply is produced at inconsistent levels as solar, wind, and hydro energy naturally fluctuate with weather conditions.
However, to ensure a stable and reliable EV charging experience, grid operators manage electricity distribution by striking a careful balance between supply and demand.
One way to do this is via grid interconnections. This simply means that by connecting different regions or countries, renewable resources become much more diverse and plentiful. If there’s extra energy in one area, it can be shared to areas with higher demand.
Grid operators also use clever technology to monitor and manage renewable energy integration. These systems allow for real-time monitoring, demand response, and speedy grid operations meaning that no matter what, you will always have renewable energy to charge your EV.
How to use renewable energy when charging EVs
If you want to do your part and protect the environment, using renewable energy to charge your EV whenever possible is the way to do it. Here are some ways to focus solely on clean energy for fueling your EV.
One of the best ways to prioritise renewable energy is by using green tariffs from energy providers. When you sign up for one, any energy you need to charge your EV will be renewable. Specific tariffs will be available depending on your area, with many dedicated to EV owners.
Clean energy notifications
Special apps are available that notify EV users when the grid’s energy is the cleanest. All you have to do is sign up and provide basic information, including your address. You will receive notifications directly to your smartphone at particular times of the day advising you to plug in.
You can find some of the best charging apps to make life as an EV owner that much easier with insight into battery capacity and optimal plug-in times in our blog post.
Locate renewable stations
Finally, another failsafe way to avoid fossil fuels when charging your EV is using charging stations that only get energy from renewable sources. By doing this, you are helping the environment and the facilities supporting a good cause.
Benefits of using renewable energy
We touched on it briefly, but there is much more to discuss regarding the benefits of using renewable energy in our EV charging infrastructures.
Helps the environment
Harmful greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution are reduced by relying on clean energy sources from the sun, wind, and water instead of fossil fuels. This helps combat climate change, keeps our air nice and clean, and promotes a healthier future for humans, animals, and nature.
Thanks to the grid, reliable energy sources are always available, and you can easily find charging spots all over the UK without worrying about running out of fuel or waiting in long queues.
Using renewable energy in EV charging facilities can save you money in many ways, as it protects you from fluctuating fuel costs and offers competitive pricing.
In our YouGov survey, 41% of respondents said that they wouldn’t buy an EV due to the high price tag, but once you take the leap and spend that cash, you are making a smart long-term investment. Our blog covered this in detail on how we can make EVs more affordable.
Finally, another benefit of using renewable energy in EV charging facilities is that the UK government has implemented policies and financial incentives to encourage it.
These incentives include grants, tax breaks, and financial help for businesses to set up and operate renewable EV charging facilities. Additionally, you can install charging ports at home with a grant that covers 75% of the costs, as stated by GOV.UK.
Grid integration strategies and practices
So how do we get the extra, clean energy from solar panels, wind turbines, and hydroelectric facilities into the grid instead of wasting it? Here is what the process looks like.
Know your energy needs
To begin with, it’s important to fully understand how much energy is needed for charging facilities. This will help determine the size and capacity of the renewable energy system you need. If you go too big, money and energy are wasted, but if you go too small, it will be inefficient.
Choose renewable energy sources
Next, choosing the right renewable energy source depends on location, budget, and resources. It’s best to go for renewable sources such as solar power or wind energy other than hydro, as it is easier to install.
Installing solar panels on top of homes or charging facilities is easy. To harness wind power, small, personal turbines can produce up to 25kWh a day, according to The Eco Experts. This is enough to charge an EV and can be installed on rooftops or in the garden where it catches wind.
Look at grid integration options
To properly integrate renewable energy into the grid, you must work alongside energy providers and operators to discover the best way forward. This can involve coming to agreements and making partnerships that allow leftover renewable energy to feed back into the grid.
Use energy management systems
Using energy management systems helps make the most of your renewable energy. These systems help balance supply and demand, ensuring that whatever power is produced is effectively used and integrated with the grid’s existing infrastructure.
Monitor energy flow
It is important to keep on top of how your energy is flowing if there is an issue somewhere down the line; the sooner it’s fixed, the less money and, of course, energy you will save. You may also spot areas that need improving to get the most out of your setup.
Finally, it is recommended to keep an ear to the ground at all times with this industry as new methods and technology developments are frequently introduced. This knowledge helps you stay updated with trends and allows you to use them in your charging facilities.
To wrap up
As renewable energy becomes more accessible through the grid, EV charging stations will rely on clean energy sources instead of fossil fuels. This will decrease greenhouse gasses and encourage EV owners to favour renewable sources.
The introduction of UK incentives such as grants will also promote more effort to be put into installing solar panels on homes as well as public charging stations. In time, this will result in less fossil fuel energy flowing through the grid.
Also, charging facilities will likely use advanced technology more to make the most of renewable energy. This includes managing energy flow more efficiently, charging vehicles to maximum capacity, and prioritising renewable sources.