Last week Nottingham’s City Council Transport Strategy team met and invited representatives from Project SCENe to showcase how our project complements moves to more sustainable and resilient transport systems, as well as energy, housing and communities. Project SCENe does this in multiple ways that add to the array of benefits that such projects can co-generate for and with residents. The most impacting of these in terms of transport is electric vehicles (EVs). This was the focus of Project SCENe’s discussion today with the Council. Led by the project’s ESCO manager and founder and director of SmartKlub Ltd, Charles Bradshaw-Smith, and one of the project’s Research Fellow’s, Julie Waldron, we outlined how community energy and storage projects have an invaluable capability for communal EV charging and storage, as well as making EVs, and thus sustainable, affordable and convenient transport, more accessible.
The project will do this through providing communal charging points, complementing those provided for free under the government’s and EST’s new scheme, yet also providing free fuel for residents through using surplus green electricity from the battery to power the vehicles. At the same time, the batteries within the EVs, just like the large community battery, can also be used to profit from and support the national grid, getting paid to store excess from the grid, for which the grid is otherwise penalised for, and which the community can then use either directly through emission-free vehicles or indirectly through the community ESCO selling electricity back to the grid at the times when the nation needs it the most. The project thus resolves two of the big EV questions in any consumer’s mind, ease and cost of charging. The community approach to decision-making, sharing ideas, experiences, dividends and providing additional shared facilities such as charging also socialises the prospect of EVs, making its adoption seem more collectively possible rather than exceptional and so overcoming the third barrier to innovations; its social acceptance and normativity. Finally, Charles explained how the final hurdle of the high upfront cost of EVs could be offset by the project using ESCO profits to reward EV investors, and by the community deciding to pool some of the income generated to buy shared EVs.
For communities, the environment and the national energy system this is a win-win situation. Getting paid to help reduce electricity wastage, boosting the storage capacity to support smarter grids and the effectiveness of intermittent renewables, having free or low cost driving fuel independent of import and price volatility issues, having access to shared vehicles and providing cleaner, quieter, more elegant automobility.
Electric vehicles thus compliment energy and transport services and social and environmental benefits. Community energy projects allow us to unite these too often divided sectors. Project SCENe will continue working with the residents and Council to drive this forward.
Blog by Lewis Cameron, Research Fellow, Project SCENe, University of Nottingham