The challenge is that amount of power that can be drawn from the electricity network is limited. The average household is supplied with single phase electricity and is fitted with a main fuse of 60 to 80 A but a 3.5 kW battery charger requires 16 A, and an 11 kW charger would require 48 A. If a house is fitted the maximum 100 amp main fuse then a more powerful 22 kW charger could be used, but all the other electrical equipment in the house would have to be turned off as the charger requires 96 A. In reality an 11 kW charger, with an above average main fuse, is likely to be a good compromise, so the house electricity capability is one ‘pinch point’.
“UK infrastructure and the adoption of electric vehicles is reaching a crucial crunch point,” said Taavi Madiberk, CEO of European ultracapacitor maker Skeleton Technologies. “Despite car manufacturers adopting zero-transmission technology and the government last month announcing plans to ban the sales of new petrol and diesel cars in Britain from 2040, in its current state the infrastructure simply cannot support the high demand for power and Britain faces serious outages if a solution is not implemented quickly.”
Skeleton has built Europe’s largest ultracapacitor factory in Dresden, Germany, to supply vehicles.
“In order to optimise UK power grids to ensure they can support the surge in charging capabilities, we need to invest in energy storage technologies that complement battery power, such as ultracapacitor technology, that will allow us to smooth the peak power needs and manage the growing demands on our energy infrastructure,” said Madiberk. “This is a complex process that requires regulators, industry bodies and businesses to work together to create a foundation that will nurture this technology and support the innovation that can allow Britain to remain competitive.
“The UK is already lagging behind the likes of Norway, Switzerland and France who are starting to set industry benchmarks in this area, so we must act now or risk being left behind.”
The National Grid is setting up a separate company to tackle these problems but this will not be operational until April 2018.
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