Considering the government’s ban of the sale of non-hybrid diesel and petrol cars by 2040 and Scotland aiming for 2032, as well as the developments of electric vehicles now apace and perhaps not far from becoming the new normal, organisations involved in all aspects of the property market are looking at the opportunity to differentiate themselves. So too, naturally, will be the opportunity to increase revenues through value-added services and energy infrastructure solutions.
Working with many large clients involved in property, from managing agents to housing associations, it is clear there is a need to consider the impact electric vehicles (EVs) will have on their development. Consideration must include the impact on power supply for developments, allocation of charging points, the potential for revenue with demand-side response strategies, attracting clientele, and, of course, if there are large scale implementations, the potential impact of costs and penalties to electricity supply contracts.
The challenge for companies is that there is no standardised approach to the infrastructure required for EV charge points, a problem that recently made a mockery of benefits to early-stage smart meter rollouts and the fact that metering and systems were not interoperable. Short of replacing the so-called smart meter or AMR devices installed and possibly losing the data associated with the device, in many instances a business was limited to work with a single supplier of retail services and potentially muting the competition in the market it should have encouraged.
Therefore, understanding the solutions available now, but also the implications of the technology and contractual arrangements for the future, is critical for establishing a scalable and future-proof solution for your operations, an infrastructure that can grow and adapt to support competition in a burgeoning market and requirement.
Housing associations may, for example, consider mixed-use schemes that serve both their business operations and residential clients, and a software platform to support both requirements in terms of automated billing and cost management for business operations as well as individual tenants. It will be important to consider how this will work in practice, including matters such as load balancing solutions, charge point utilisation to capitalise on the usage of charge points, user registration access, charging processes, billing, and cost recovery management.
Furthermore, Vehicle to Grid (V2G) chargers that support a two-way flow of electricity between the vehicle and a charge point will allow vehicle owners or users to feed unused electricity back to the grid via the charger. Vehicles can essentially become portable energy storage, an energy asset. A battery’s lifecycle and replacement cost would, of course, need to be considered.
Another benefit could come in the form of carbon compliance, particularly with harmonisation of schemes and reporting through SECR, and so it will also be relevant to consider how your solution will support carbon compliance and ease of reporting. Technically, since transport must be included in SECR and GHG Reporting, the use of EVs and charging points will make that data collection easier, because essentially, companies will just be collecting their electricity consumption. The data for different uses would need to be identifiable and avoid double counting. Electricity used in EVs would usually come under Scope 2 (grid electricity) rather than Scope 1 (owned vehicles). Although, if the EVs are hybrid, the petrol or diesel element would be in Scope 1. The EV chargers will also act as a useful form of sub-meter, to monitor what is used and how that can be made more efficient. It would also enable comparisons to the use of a fuel-based fleet and the emissions saved, which could be particularly beneficial if the electricity is sourced from renewables.
The key issue in this scenario is to plan an energy strategy for the long-term, one that is aligned with the long-term strategy of your organisation, and within that, you must demand flexibility and interoperability from providers. For day-to-day operations, you must ensure the appropriate systems and organisational structure is in place for seamless and efficient interaction of communications, use and payment, as well as optimisation of your assets for charging, demand-side response, and carbon compliance management.