Powering the future with electric vehicles
Let's face it, not many people need a hard sell on electric vehicles - most people don't even need a soft sell. A quieter, cleaner, safer, cheaper, guilt-free and (yes, we're going to say it) cooler alternative to our dirty petrol and diesel guzzlers - what's not to like?
One major sticking point - affordability - will soon be a thing of the past, with experts predicting that by 2025 electric cars will be as cheap as fossil-fuelled vehicles.
So there is little doubt that a huge surge in the demand for electric vehicles is just around the corner. But is Britain ready for it?
Managing supply and demand
A major feature of EVs is that they get their power from electricity, instead of petroleum-based fuel. This means that drivers need to periodically plug them in to charge from the electric grid. This distinguishes them from hybrid electric vehicles, which supplement an internal combustion engine with battery power, but cannot be plugged in.
So alongside the fact that our roads will soon be a lot quieter, the main result of everyone buying EVs will be a huge shift in energy demand, from liquid fossil fuels to mainly grid electricity. This is fantastic news for the environment - the best news it has probably heard in a long time. But it also means that more power will need to be supplied to EV owners, and this new demand needs to be managed as smartly as possible.
And that's where smart meters, currently being offered by energy suppliers to every household in Great Britain, come in.
Smart living with smart meters
Smart meters are about so much more than just saving energy at home. They are the cornerstone of the smart grid. Whether your future self has plans to be zipping about in a Nissan Leaf or cruising around in a Tesla, a smart energy grid is a key part of this.
In essence, a smart grid employs a whole lot of information technology resources (including your energy usage data from smart meters) in order to better manage supply and demand, which in turn could reduce your electricity waste and energy costs. It will also help us to be able to supply more reliable, efficient and low-carbon energy to households and help us all to manage our valuable resources more efficiently.
In terms of EVs, a smart grid will allow consumers to charge their vehicles when rates are low and energy is greenest, whilst hopefully lessening the peaks in demand. There might even be instances where you could get paid to charge your car when the power system needs us to use more power. This often happens when there is too much renewable energy on the system, like a windy winters night; it's difficult to turn wind farms off, but easy to turn car chargers on.
Creating a smart future
Smart metering is crucial to a smart energy grid because it allows the system to track when customers use energy as well as how much they use. Using this information, energy suppliers can then offer more flexible tariffs that better suit our changing lifestyles and energy use patterns. Choosing a smart meter and a tailored tariff, which remains entirely the choice of the consumer, will mean people can be rewarded with lower bills for doing their bit to save the planet. We all want to make big changes to help our planet, but sometimes to make big changes, we have to start small. Smart meters can't solve climate change on their own but with the smarter, more energy efficient grid they help to create, they're a start.
And as an added bonus reason to get a smart meter to go alongside your new car, you need to know how much your new purchase is going to add to your energy bills. The in-home display which comes with every smart meter will show your energy usage in pounds and pence, in near real time, helping you to work out how much it's saving you and allowing you to adjust your budget accordingly.
If you need any further convincing, have a watch of our video featuring Andrew explaining how his smart meter helps him to manage the electricity costs associated with his new purchase.
For more information on how to get a smart meter, check out our supplier page here.
Get a smart meter
To do your bit for Britain's smart future, contact your energy supplier to request a smart meter at no extra cost