Even with energy prices rising, driving an electric car can still keep your costs down – iNews


One benefit of owning an electric vehicle (EV) is that they are usually cheaper to run. Driving an EV 100 miles will, on average, cost around £4-6, compared with £13-16 in a petrol or diesel car.

In the first half of the previous decade, nearly all public chargers in the UK were free to use. Back when I drove my first EV in 2013, I travelled between public charging stations, frustrated by the car’s paltry range of under 100 miles on a full battery, but knowing that not only was it better for the environment, my fuel was free too.

But as electricity prices rise as Europe faces an energy crisis, where does that leave EV drivers? While it is true that fossil-fuel prices are rising too, motorists need good reasons to dump their old vehicles and switch to electric.

In 2019 and 2020, the average price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity in the UK was around 18p. The data for 2021 hasn’t been published yet, but an online quote from one of the UK’s big six energy providers shows an average cost of around 24p per kWh for September 2021.

Charging at home could be a better option than roadside charging points (Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters)

A car with a 50 kWh battery would cost around £9.50 to fill at 2020’s average rate. At the September 2021 rate, that same car will cost around £13 to charge. Public charging rates also vary wildly, and can cost up to 69p per kWh at motorway service stations that offer super-fast charging. At 69p, the full charge will cost £34.50.

One enduring benefit of EVs is that their batteries are effectively indifferent to where the energy comes from. It could be nuclear or hydroelectric power, or solar power generated by photo-voltaic panels on the roof of a house.

These panels will cost money to be installed , but once they are installed and the sun is shining, you can charge your car while it sits on your drive.

Though it seems unbelievable in the midst of an energy crisis, there are times when the national grid generates so much power that operators don’t know what to do with it.

This phenomenon was more prevalent during the peak of Covid lockdowns, when some energy companies even paid customers to use renewable sources rather than switch them off. Electric vehicle batteries were the perfect sponges to soak up this excess power.

Many countries are building more resilient power networks based around generating electricity when it makes sense – capturing the sun when it shines and the wind when it blows – and storing that in huge grid-scale batteries known as megapacks, to use when renewable electricity isn’t been generated.

Electric cars could be part of that storage too, and trials are ongoing to assess the viability of vehicle-to-grid technologies, which allow car batteries to transfer their power to the local grid during a shortage.

If you charge your car on energy rates that apply to your home, your costs will almost certainly rise. But if you are smart about when and how you charge your EV, you could benefit from very cheap, if not free fuel costs for years to come. EVs may even become an important part of how energy networks balance supply and demand.

Rather than being more expensive to fuel in an energy crisis, EVs, and their huge grid-connected batteries, could actually help prevent future crises and high prices.

Tom Stacey is senior lecturer in operations and supply chain management at Anglia Ruskin University. The full version of this article appears on theconversation.com



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