The war in Ukraine has put this topic high on everyone’s agenda as the threat of power cuts hovers over Europe. Will EV drivers have to brave restricted mobility this winter? What precautions should be taken to charge your electric vehicle during the energy crisis?
Should we expect an electrical supply shortage this winter?
In view of the difficulties of importing gas due to the war in Ukraine, European countries are drawing up contingency plans to avoid any risk of blackouts. Indeed, 26 member countries of the European Union have signed an agreement to cut gas demand by 15% between 1st August 2022 and 31st March 2023.
In fact, the gas and electricity sectors are inextricably linked. Many power stations use gas to generate electricity. In France, the second-ranking electricity producer in the EU, this problem is compounded by the fact that over half their nuclear power reactors are currently offline (corrosion issues, delayed maintenance etc.).
Energy sobriety is therefore the name of the game. As winter looms, what risks will we face in the months to come?
One step towards countering peaks in electricity consumption this winter would be to reduce the voltage across the grid. In concrete terms, this would mean that the voltage would be decreased over a given period (brownout). If we take the example of home charging an EV, this would imply that the power delivered would be lower.
First of all, it is highly unlikely that there will be a general blackout on a regional or national level.
However, in the worst case scenario during a cold weather snap, rolling power outages (or rota disconnection) may be scheduled in some countries. Power may be cut off in certain areas over a limited period of time (3 hours maximum in the UK, for example). This action may be extended to other areas if necessary once the first period has expired.
It should be noted that these rolling power cuts are scheduled in advance, customers will be advised of them beforehand and they will take place during the day.
The impact of the energy crisis on charging electric cars
The market share of electric vehicles is rising every year, which naturally increases the demand for electricity to charge them up. Nearly 90% of EV drivers charge at home. In the context of the current energy crisis, fears of being unable to charge EVs is totally justifiable.
Will I be able to home charge my EV whenever I want?
Yes, if you take a few precautions. Governments will not be inspecting the consumption of each household or cut off the mains supply accordingly. As explained above, home charging may be affected if the grid voltage is reduced or short-term rota disconnection is introduced.
So we don’t need to be unduly worried. Obviously, it would not be a smart move to hook up your EV during peak energy consumption hours. The best option is to time your home charging session during off-peak hours – preferably during the night.
Will public charging stations be affected by power cuts?
If rolling power cuts are brought into play, a blackout in a given district will necessarily affect the public charging station located in the sector concerned. But, it is unlikely that this will occur.
However, in the interests of the economy drive, we can anticipate that some retailers, with charging stations open to the public on their cars parks, may shut their charging points down.
5 tips for EV drivers
Here are a few measures you can take this winter to make your personal contribution to energy sobriety when charging your EV.
1. Charge your electric vehicle at night
For drivers charging their EVs at home, the key point to remember is timing. If you usually plug in and charge your electric car as soon as you get home, wait until it’s time to go to bed. You can easily schedule the charging start time via your car’s dashboard or via an associated app. This is a win-win solution as you not only avoid any risk of power cuts, but you also profit from lower tariffs during off-peak hours.
The same applies to users of public charging infrastructure. It is preferable to charge outside the periods of high voltage on the power grid.
2. Keep charging to the bare minimum
Along the same lines, whether you are at home or at a public charging station, try not to charge up more than necessary. In addition to reducing your energy consumption, this preserves your battery from untimely wear and tear.
3. Check the status of charging stations on Chargemap
The charging stations connected to Chargemap, and therefore compatible with the Chargemap Pass, display connector status in real time. Before setting off for a public charging station, don’t forget to check the charging station data given in Chargemap to make sure it is up and running.
4. Opt for eco-driving and save on power consumption
More than ever, now is the moment to take up eco-driving to extend your range and reduce charging frequency. Here is a non-exhaustive list of good practices that are easy to take on board:
- Take your foot off the accelerator and focus on smooth driving
- Use regenerative braking
- Activate the eco mode
- Slow down on motorways
- Check your tyres on a regular basis
To find out more, read our article on the principles of eco-driving.
5. Foster soft mobility whenever possible
Finally, the best way of reducing our overall impact is to avoid individual car travel whenever possible or realistic. Some people are completely dependent on their cars. So it’s not a question of blacklisting cars altogether, but of looking at how we can introduce soft mobility into our everyday lives. For example, car-sharing over long distances is already a proactive initiative.
Nota bene – some businesses provide incentives to encourage people to come to work via public transport, car-sharing or by bike. Ask your company if you too can benefit from this type of positive action.
We hope this article has shed some light on the impact of the energy crisis on using and charging your EV. We have deliberately not gone into the technical details since the idea is to remain as open to everyone as possible and give you a few handy tips 😊
Tell us what you think and if you have any advice to share in the comments. Mutual help between drivers is not just limited to the Chargemap app 😇🤝
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