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Electric vehicles will offer more than transport

03/04/2018

Electric cars continue to sideline traditional petrol and diesel vehicles. And this ongoing revolution could have far reaching implications for how we power other areas of our lives, says Christophe Bordes

Electric vehicles (EVs) are replacing traditionally powered vehicles. Charging points are appearing everywhere while developments in technology have seen huge advances in speed, acceleration and battery life. Electric transport has become appealing to even the most discerning driver. There is even a Tesla in space.

But when it comes to the revolution EVs will bring, their use as transport is purely the tip of the iceberg, according to Christophe Bordes, Co-Head of Power Utilities and Infrastructure at Societe Generale. In particular, he identifies EVs’ capacity as batteries, storing power and allowing owners to sell power back into the grid.

“Typically, on a daily basis, a standard EV only uses 15% to 20% of its battery capacity,” Christophe says. That unused stored power could be diverted to any one of myriad uses, “When I make my toast for breakfast in the morning, what difference does it make if I use the battery of my EV rather than power from the grid? To grill toast I need 1KW for two minutes; an EV can deliver 100KW for four hours.”

The only practicality that needs to be met is that the frequency is 50Hz - the international standard. As Christophe says, “Wherever the electricity comes from, you don’t care. When I grill my toast in London the power can come from Dorset, Scotland, Belgium, or a Tesla in my garage as long as the 50hz balance is maintained.”

Social and political change mean the adoption of EVs is almost certain to continue. Cities around the world are either banning or imposing prohibitive charges onto traditionally powered vehicles. In London the congestion charge for some diesel vehicles is already planned to rise to at £28 a day. According to Christophe, some forecasts suggest 60% of vehicles on the road could be electrically powered as soon as 2030.

This transition, and the continued adoption of the ‘internet of things’ in homes, will see the use of EVs for power becoming increasingly common as there comes a tipping point in terms of scale which brings viability.

Beyond daily personal use, individuals will be able to sell unused power back into the grid. Christophe foresees a future where users can flag holidays when their car will not be used, allowing the unused power to be traded and collecting cash at the end of their break from the power trading company with which they are contracted.