Paying for things used to be simple: cash, credit or cheque. These days we’re getting used to buying goods and services in all sorts of ways, with our phones, our watches and even our faces.
EV charging payments
When it comes to paying to top up your electric car, you may be faced with a bewildering series of hoops to jump through: signing up for multiple subscriptions, downloading a bunch of privacy-violating apps, ordering various RFID cards to fatten your wallet even further, can there be too many ways to pay?
Well, the UK government thinks so and has stepped in to firmly point chargepoint operators in the right direction.
As part of its Road to Zero strategy to encourage more motorists to make the switch to greener vehicles, the Department for Transport has sent a shot across the bow of chargepoint providers.
It has announced that it wants to see pay-as-you-go debit or credit card payment options on all new electric vehicle charging points, both the rapid and higher-powered varieties too.
Road to Zero
The government said it was “prepared to intervene” using powers in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act if the industry did not heed its warning to implement what it called a “roaming solution”.
The Road to Zero strategy is a plan to ensure that by 2030 at least half of new cars sold should be “ultra low emission”.
To reach that goal a rapid acceleration of green infrastructure construction, reduction of emissions from existing vehicles and the encouragement of drivers to purchase zero emission cars, vans and trucks is necessary.
The UK plans to end the sale of new conventional fossil-fuel powered cars and vans by 2040.
The UK has one of the largest charging networks in Europe with over 20,000 publicly accessible chargepoints, including more than 2,000 with rapid charging technology. There are actually more places to charge up your electric car than there are petrol stations to refuel those old-timey petrol-guzzlers.
The government is also addressing a newly developing mental health issue known as “range anxiety”. This refers to that feeling you get when you aren’t quite sure you can make it to the next charging point before your battery goes flat.
To combat this, the government is working with providers to open source chargepoint data, which will allow app makers and website developers to come up with handy ways for drivers to quickly find places to plug in.
Michael Ellis, Future of Mobility Minister, said the current diversity of payment systems was “a source of frustration” for drivers.
“It is crucial there are easy payment methods available to improve electric vehicle drivers’ experiences and give drivers choice,” he said.
“This will help even more people enjoy the benefits electric vehicles bring and speed up our journey to a zero-emission future.”
The provider of the UK’s largest public charging network, BP Chargemaster, is retrofitting its current UK-made rapid chargers to accept contactless payments over the next year as well as making sure all its new 50kW and 150kW chargers take your cards too.
What is the best energy provider for EV drivers?
At Selectra, we like to recommend solutions to you when we think they’re relevant.
If you’re an Electric Vehicle (EV) driver, then you should definitely check out Octopus Energy.
Octopus Energy customers already benefit from simple contactless bank card payments through its collaboration with the Engenie charging network.
Octopus is also rolling out solutions to fix other headaches for drivers looking for greener personal transport have to contend with.
The first is the question about whether switching to an EV is merely displacing the pollution from the exhaust pipe to the power station smokestack. Is your EV really helping with the climate emergency?
To tackle this dilemma Octopus launched Electric Juice in June.
Electric Juice provides 100% green electricity to charging point operators.
So, if you’re charging your car while out and about you’ll soon be able to look for Electric Juice providers to ensure you’re keeping your carbon footprint as small as possible.
What else makes Octopus so good?
Another issue is that charging times for EVs can still be a pain sometimes, with public charging stations taking anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to fill your battery. Electric Juice is set to make that a thing of the past.
Octopus has partnered with IONITY, a consortium of car makers BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Ford and the Volkswagen Group, to provide its High Power EV charging points with its 100% renewable Electric Juice in the UK.
These next-generation chargers deliver a high-speed charging capacity of up to 350 kW and can charge EVs in as little as ten minutes!
The technology conforms to the widely adopted CCS charging standard, meaning many more UK EVs will be able to charge up almost as quickly as it takes to fill a petrol or diesel car up at the petrol station.
It works by charging your battery at the fastest rate it can safely handle.
A battery designed to accept a full 350 kW can be charged in around 10 to 15 minutes, much quicker than it usually takes at typical 50 kW charging points and three times speedier than with current rapid charging systems.
The first Electric Juice point opened in Maidstone and 40 stations will be rolled out across the UK by 2020.
At home, Octopus offers Octopus Energy Go, a tariff specifically designed for EV drivers.
This 100% green energy tariff provides cheap electricity for 5p/kWh between 00:30 and 04:30, on average over 50% cheaper than normal Economy 7 night time prices.
Octopus customers will need a SMETS2 smart meter or a SecureTM branded SMETS1 to switch to this tariff. If you don’t already have one Octopus will arrange the installation free of charge.
Another reason we like to recommend Octopus is its V2G (vehicle to grid) Powerloop project.
Early-evening is peak time, when everyone gets home and puts the dinner on, so this is when electricity is at its most expensive, or if you’re a seller, at its most valuable.
This is also still a weak point for renewable energy. Without more energy storage to meet spikes in demand nationally, green sources can’t yet compete with the fast-response ability of fossil fuels.
However, Octopus has a cunning plan.
Its Powerloop system allows you to use your EV’s battery to power your home, maybe even your neighbours’ homes during peak time and charge it back up through the wee hours of the night. Basically, you charge up your EV while you sleep away the off-peak hours and then sell back any power you haven’t used in the evening.
According to the supplier, ten Nissan LEAFs could power 1,000 homes for an hour.
Octopus is currently trialling this technology in the south east of England.
If it takes off, it would mean the more electric vehicles we have, the more energy storage becomes available to meet peak demand and so the even more viable renewables become at a national level, making the grid cleaner, greener and more reliable for all of us.