Electric vehicles powering businesses

Dr Fred Paterson and Neil Horsley.

New technology is enabling electric cars to power businesses and drastically cut energy costs, a University of Derby-sponsored conference has been told.

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology is just one reason why companies should investigate electric vehicles, delegates at the Ultra-Low Emission Fleet Masterclass heard.

They were also told how a device, called “Clear Capture”, can demonstrate the financial benefits of turning any car or fleet away from fossil fuels.

Cenex, is the not-for-profit organisation behind Clear Capture and its senior technical specialist, Chris Cox, said: “Our telematics dongle can be put into any vehicle to record travel details. From that information we can prepare full cost-benefit analysis to show which vehicles should be switched to low carbon alternatives.

“We are seeing clear evidence that many companies would be better off by using alternative fuels to achieve both low carbon targets and cost savings at the same time.”

Mr Cox added that previous negative perceptions of non-fossil fuel cars were being changed by rapid advances in technology and investment of major companies.

He said: “Previously range of electric vehicles has been a concern but the newer Electric Vehicles coming onto the market, such as the Hyundai Kona, can drive for 300 miles before recharging. Companies such as LDV are also attracting great interest with new ranges of fully electric and hybrid vans.”

Cenex is also at the forefront of vehicle-to-grid technology and is rolling out pilots across the UK.

Mr Cox added: “There are smart ways of charging vehicles which can help owners to reduce peak-time energy costs and technologies such as V2G can help customers achieve this without having to worry about the complexity of understanding energy markets or tariffs.

“In many cases, V2G can be used to reduce an organisations demand during peak periods, and because of the way that transmission costs are passed on to customers, this can save £40-50 per kW.

“This doesn’t sound huge, but it can quickly multiply, saving larger businesses tens of thousands of pounds. Our hope is that smart charging and V2G could be used to offset the daily costs of driving and charging an electric vehicle, effectively meaning that EV owners could run their vehicles for free.”

Dr Fred Paterson, the leader of the University of Derby and European Regional Development Find-supported Low Carbon Business Network, said: “We are now at the stage where turning away from fossil fuels is both ethical and economical.

“For a future-fit business, you need to be profitable and have social and environmental awareness.

“The pay back is greater profits but also enhanced reputation because more and more people want to buy from companies with ethical policies.

“We want to be raising the profile of the benefits while also shifting perception of it being expensive.

“It also should be borne in mind that the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy and Road to Zero policies favour non-fossil fuel vehicles and moving to electric vehicles would help avoid congestion charges and reduce tax bills.

“In the regions, the move away from fossil fuels is also supported by initiatives, such as the current consultation on a clean air zone, here in Derby.”

Neil Horsley, of Low Emission Vehicle Enterprise and Learning (LEVEL), which hosted the Pride Park conference, said the the switch away from fossil fuels could have a significant impact on the economy and jobs in the East Midlands.

He said: “In a place like Derby with its history of planes, trains and automobiles, there is great potential of investment and innovation.

“Companies should be looking at the supply chain with big growth areas in charge points and battery development.

“Businesses need to evolve and there needs to be a knowledge transfer and the transition has to be explained.”

Mr Horsley said it was fundamental that businesses sign up to initiatives such as the Low Carbon Business Network to enable them to be fully informed about the developments and benefits in transitioning to the adoption of Ultra Low emission vehicles.

Dr Paterson added: “The University of Derby wants to be at the forefront of keeping people informed of the changes which will both positively impact their businesses and the environment.”