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Electric Car Owners Paid to Charge Their EVs

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Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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Unusually, the combination of Covid Lockdown and surplus grid energy has led a utility in Britain to pay customers to take its electricity. Specifically EV owners on one of the modern agile tariffs, which not only allow owners to pursue the best rates, but on a holiday weekend, paid them around £5 (around $7) to charge up their cars.

The lucky owners received enough energy to drive 650 miles. Approximately the road travel distance between New York and Detroit.

Utilities do not like to have surplus electricity or move to a “curtailment” system where the most expensive are shut down temporarily. Octopus Energy, a UK utility, was in this situation and prices were negative so users with an EV and an advanced Ohme Smart Charger, which automatically allows EV owners to charge when demand prices are lowest, were able to “fill their tanks” and get paid for doing so. To compare with a gasoline vehicle, for example, a BMW 3 Series, the fuel cost to drive the same distance would have been more than $120.

Although this is probably a rare occurrence, it does show how important EVs are going to be as part of a storage solution for the grid, alongside batteries and other electricity storage methods, which are not in widespread use, but under development, such as molten salt or hydrogen.

Ohme chief executive David Watson praised the important role EVs can play where countries transition to more flexible and cleaner energy systems. "Smart charging is obviously great news for EV drivers, reducing the total cost of owning an EV significantly by passing on energy cost savings," he said. "As well as being a more efficient cleaner mode of transport, EVs will have a profound positive impact on the grid, unlocking value by cheaply shifting demand to times where there is an excess of renewable energy on the system."

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