Electric cars powered up by generators as grid delays slow charging … – The Telegraph

The chief executive of one of Britain’s biggest electric car charging companies says delays connecting to the electricity grid have forced the company to rely on batteries and generators to power up vehicles.

Toddington Harper, boss of Gridserve, said slow grid connections meant his company has had to get “creative” when rolling out new power-hungry fast charging stations.

High-power connections to the electricity grid for his chargers can take years to be approved.

In the meantime,  Gridserve has connected its chargers to battery packs and vegetable oil-burning generators to plug the gap, offering extra supply when needed but at a higher price than grid electricity.

“There are some sites which are taking longer than we would like. And so we’ve had to do some creative things in places,” Mr Harper said.

“Yes, it’s expensive. But we take a lifetime view and if you only have to put these types of solutions in place for a few months while we wait for some of the more tricky grid connections to come through, then that means we can get sites operating.”

Gridserve’s troubles are the latest indication that long-delays connecting to the electricity grid are holding back net zero and efforts to stand up more renewable energy supply.

Octopus Energy, one of Britain’s biggest domestic suppliers, told the Telegraph last week that it was facing delays of up to 13 years to connect its renewable power projects to the grid. The company said it was struggling to invest £28bn into green schemes as a result.

Companies that both supply and consume large amounts of electricity are reliant on both connection approval from the National Grid, which balances supply and demand, and local distribution networks, which provide the ground level infrastructure.

Other electric vehicle charging bosses are privately furious about how slow local operators are in approving new sites. The UK is made up of a patchwork of distribution networks owned by pension funds and other investors who manage local grids, each with their own bureaucracy.

Grid firms “want to help” but “some are more efficient” at getting connections online than others, Mr Harper said. The network is old, designed for more benign demands.

Gridserve is in the process of rolling out 350 kilowatt (kW) chargers that will be able to supply a battery-powered car with 100 miles of driving in five minutes of charge once the next generation of car batteries are installed.

The charging times will take electric refuelling timings much closer to those of petrol vehicles.

Motorists covering long distances or those without a drive where they can recharge parked cars overnight are reliant on public chargers, making time to recharge a key sticking point for many considering switching to electric.


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