We know we need to take action on the quality of the air we breathe in our cities – each year in the UK alone, air pollution shortens the lives of around 40,000 people, according to the Royal Colleges of Physicians and of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Lawmakers are calling the government to bring forward the 2040 deadline to ban conventional gasoline and diesel cars.
But it’s not only environmental benefits that make electric vehicles a symbol of a move towards a better future. Gone are the days when cars were simply a way to get us from A to B.
New energy storage technology will soon elevate our electric cars to virtual power stations with vehicle-to-grid chargers allowing a plugged-in car battery to not only draw power from the grid, but also return it to power people’s homes or sell back to the grid in exchange for payment – all whilst ensuring the car has enough energy for the next day’s travels.
So, why aren’t more of us harnessing new technology to drive towards a more efficient energy future?
Barriers to entry
Innovative energy storage technology offers the potential to build a more sustainable energy model; one where people can affordably and reliably power their lives through renewables whilst boosting a stressed electrical grid.
Indeed, our intel shows us that based on the number of Nissan LEAF electric cars on UK roads at present, new vehicle-to-grid chargers could enable the cars’ owners to contribute more than 114 MW to the National Grid at any time; enough to power more than 300,000 homes.
But, a lack of knowledge is stopping many people from starting their green journey. So, our dependence on fossil fuels, which still provide so much of the grid’s power, continues.
A YouGov poll commisioned OVO Energy revealed that when considering sustainable products and services, half of Brits are most concerned with getting better control of their energy consumption (49%) and saving money (42%). However, almost nine in ten of us (87%) are unaware of vehicle-to-grid technology that would help to achieve these aims for the long term. The research further showed that around two in five (38%) UK adults would be more likely to buy an electric vehicle if they knew they could use their car as a virtual power station.
And it’s not just electric vehicles that will change the way we think about and use energy. New home batteries will allow consumers to take control of their energy consumption and make savings by storing clean, abundant electricity from renewable sources when energy is cheaper and using it around the home when national demand spikes and energy is most expensive. Four out of five Brits (81%) were unaware this type of battery exists, but more than half (57%) would have one installed if it could save them money by using energy outside of peak times.
It’s clear that when we can show that ‘green’ and ‘practical’ are not mutually exclusive, we can inspire people to be part of a greener energy solution.
Making renewable energy unstoppable
If we continue to power our lives with dirty fossil fuels like coal, UN climate scientists believe there will be irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems alike. As the UK’s largest independent energy supplier, we want to help address this issue and, whilst there is no single way to solve a global problem like climate change, we believe that energy companies can help most by making it easier for people to choose renewable energy.
For us, this means investing in, and maximising the benefits of, energy storage devices and joining the dots for customers to showcase practical, cost-effective ways to go green for the long-term.
We know that renewable energy has the power to be unstoppable; moving us towards a more energy efficient future that will serve both people and planet. People just need to know how to get on board.
Tom Pakenham is the Director of Electric Vehicles at OVO Energy