I read an interesting article by EVA England the other day about how battery electric vehicle (BEV) drivers will soon become mainstream, ‘driven’ by different values from protecting the environment to cost savings or lifestyle reasons. One thing I found particularly interesting (and as some surprise) is that some of these users were retirees in their fifties or sixties who were enjoying the freedom of not having to change the gears constantly (I’m sure my father-in-law would resonate with this convenience). Driving in a car with no loud engine was also regarded as a pleasant benefit. Some even have installed solar panels in their homes to use the sun to fuel their vehicles! Something we are likely to see increasingly as BEVs become more popular.
Overall, this has given me some confidence that we in the UK are on track to meet our ambitious climate targets to become a net zero economy by 2050. National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios predict 11 million BEVs to be on the road by 2030. Over time, they anticipate that the onset of autonomous vehicles will actually reduce the number of vehicles on the roads. The reduction in car journeys is also evident in the Sixth Carbon Budget report by the Committee on Climate Change, who anticipate that around 9% of car miles can be reduced by 2035, facilitated by societal shifts towards shared mobility or increased home-working.
Indeed, one would argue that shared electric mobility is more sustainable than individual car travel as it enables the utilisation of vehicles for more services whilst avoiding all externalities associated with their production. Moreover, they offer a bridge in transition from today’s vehicle-ownership based mobility models to future mobility-as-a-service models that may involve autonomous vehicles as envisioned by National Grid. All very exciting for us at Cranfield!
Yet, there are lots of questions around shared electric mobility: What is the consumer appetite? How could network capacity issues be balanced with community energy and fleet charging needs? Under what conditions would consumers be willing to shift vehicle charging times and their travel needs? How would consumers perceive the benefits from minimizing overall community charging costs vs meeting their own travel needs? The list goes on.
This is all very exciting for me, as these are just some of the questions that we are exploring in our new project, funded by Innovate UK in collaboration with SNRG and Electric Corby: https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/research-projects/machine-learning-for-smart-ev-fleet-charging
This project is among many other projects we’re undertaking at Centre for Energy Systems and Strategy (CESS) at Cranfield University. Our research recognises that energy transition is a socio-technical phenomenon requiring insights from social sciences as well as technical and engineering solutions. If we can’t create innovative business models to create incentives to shift timing, duration and location of BEV charging, how can we unlock savings of up to £12 billion per year by 2050, as outlined in Energy White Paper?
We are very proud in embedding our cutting-edge research into our postgraduate teaching – and with this in mind we recently launched a new MSc in Advanced Digital Energy Systems for thosewho are keen to be part of digital energy system solutions and carve themselves a career in this rapidly advancing field.
We have amazing scholarships available, including some specifically for women from developing countries. Want to be part of this exciting field of study? Come and join our enthusiastic, passionate and dynamic research team to contribute to digital energy transformation that enables accessibility and affordability of energy for all.