Is now the time to join the EV revolution asks renewables expert Joe Fergusson?
Bell Ingram has joined the electric vehicle revolution by installing workplace charge points at company HQ in Perth.
Our Head of Estate Agency Carl Warden is leading the charge in his Tesla 3 which has so far chalked up over 4,000 miles on company business.
If you too are thinking of replacing a petrol or diesel car with an electric model there are a number of pros and cons to consider before making the leap.
On the plus side, electric cars can greatly reduce your carbon footprint and save you hundreds of pounds each year in tax and fuel costs. The choice and abilities in the range of EVs on the market is expanding quickly, and the charging infrastructure is definitely improving. In fact, there are over 1,800 Chargepoint Scotland public points (out of over 2,500 installed across Scotland and 24,600 across the UK) offering free charging at up to 50kW, which gives around 100 miles of travel for a 30 minute plug-in.
Additionally, there is still ‘hay to be made’ by taking advantage of grants from both the UK’s Office for Low Emissions Vehicles (OLEV) and from Transport Scotland towards the installation of new charge points at workplaces and at homes. And the tax system remains generous towards businesses making the switch, allowing year 1 100% capital write down of new vehicles and 1% of value benefit-in-kind for users.
On the flip side however, EVs still have a shorter range than petrol/diesel vehicles and recharging the battery takes time and planning. Added to this, the upfront cost of buying these vehicles is still much higher than their traditional equivalents, although that gap is steadily narrowing.
To become ubiquitous the EV must be as convenient as its petrol/diesel equivalent, with costs on a par, both new and second hand, and the charging infrastructure must catch up, enabling urban street-dwellers to charge from lamp posts and bollards, etc.
What is for certain is that the writing has been on the wall for the internal combustion engine (ICE) ever since SONY commercialised the Lithium-Ion battery for its mobile telephone in 1991. In the 1910s, Thomas Edison spent much more time eeking out more miles from his lead-acid powered EV than he did on his electric lightbulb; what held him back was energy density – or kilowatt hours per tonne.
Even without the Kyoto Protocol, all the subsequent COPs and the focus on air quality in our vehicle-clogged cities, the EV – sometimes described as ‘a mobile phone with wheels’ – was only ever waiting for the battery with sufficient energy density to get its driver from A to B without having to stop to re-charge before it suited them to do so – now achievable with today’s Lithium-Ion chemistry and continuously-improving variations on it.
The beautiful simplicity of the EV – body, battery, computer, motor, wheels – compared to the fantastically complex supply chains for the hundreds of additional whizzing, rubbing, grinding and exploding elements of an ICE vehicle, means that EVs are the future of personal transport, like it or not. Their electricity may come from a fuel cell fuelled by green hydrogen, catalysed from water by renewable energy, but with ranges and charging times improving quickly, in a decade or so the ICE will become a rare and specialised thing.
Want to know more? Our Microgeneration and Renewables Consultant Joe Fergusson provides a feasibility appraisal service to any organisation pondering the viability of joining in the EV revolution, and can be contacted at email@example.com or 07711 552693.
Tel: 01292 886 544
About: Joe has more than 20 years’ experience advising private and corporate clients on all aspects of renewable energy systems. From pre-feasibility advice to project management, his remit includes hydro, biomass, wind, heat pumps, solar, biogas, battery storage, electric vehicle charging, heat networks and combined heat and power. Joe also has a broad knowledge of sustainable building design. Appointed in 2002 as Scotland’s first Community Renewables Development Officer, he developed the Scottish Community & Householder Renewables Initiative (SCHRI) in South West Scotland, reporting to the Energy Saving Trust. Joe is a qualified National Home Energy Rating surveyor with a broad and deep knowledge of building-scale renewable energy systems and grant support schemes. Interests: Low Impact Building Design, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Development.