Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: Why the continued rollout of smart metering is key to the future of the UK transport system

Few recent UK infrastructure projects have been on quite the scale as the smart meter roll out. Commencing in 2011, this project has grown over the course of a decade and the race is now on to complete the project by mid-2025. However, while the project promises homeowners more control over their energy costs and will help conserve critical resources, the smart meter infrastructure is set to play an even bigger roll in the country’s transition towards electric vehicles.

Smart metering looks set to provide the very foundations for the delivery of new smart energy offerings and the government has indicated its preference for its use in delivering smart charging of EVs, which currently is mostly carried out by charge point operators.

This year has been devastating for new vehicle registrations, with manufacturers suffering from raw material shortages, silicon chip shortages, and production shutdowns. However, one glimmer of hope, according to the SMMT, is growth of electric vehicles. Almost one in six new cars registered this year are capable of zero-emission motoring, growth that is fundamental to the UK’s ability to hit its net zero targets. With next year looking brighter, and even more new models expected, the continuation of this transition will depend on the infrastructure available to charge electric vehicles.

There is already a rush to install new charging infrastructure on Britain’s streets, outside workplaces and in other heavily populated urban areas to support adoption of electric vehicles. However, many people will want to choose to charge their vehicles at home. For them to be able to do this without bringing the electricity network crashing down will require every home to have a smart meter.

The smart meter will act as a conduit between the energy provider and the customer, enabling two-way communication and real-time status on energy use. Importantly, they will transmit masses of data that traditional energy and infrastructure networks cannot. This data will enable energy providers to offer a new set of services for EV owners, advising them on the best times to recharge at the lowest price, and therefore supporting energy management for the entire energy system.

The smart meter effectively puts the consumer in control of when and how to charge their vehicle, while enabling providers to effectively manage the energy network and avoid collapse.

Such services are only just beginning to emerge, thanks to some of the work that CHH CoNeX and our partners have completed through the smart meter rollout. When you consider the impact of smart cities and increased communication across devices all over the country, the smart meter rollout begins to be highly significant when it comes to effective energy management.