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Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations 2021

Who does this apply to?

These Regulations will apply to sellers of electric vehicle charge points; installation is not in scope of the legislation.

The Regulations do not apply to public charge points, but to all workplace and home charge points.

When did it change?

The Regulations come into force on 30 June 2022, apart from the security requirements set out in Schedule 1 of the Regulations, which come into force on 30 December 2022.

What does it mean?

This Statutory Instrument introduces Regulations which require domestic and workplace electric vehicle (EV) charge points to include smart functionality. The Regulations will also mandate that these charge points must meet specified cybersecurity requirements and operate in certain ways to protect the stability of the electricity grid and to protect consumers.

The uptake of EVs is central to Government’s net zero commitment, requiring the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. To enable this transition, the electricity system will need to meet the increased demand. Without intervention, significant and costly additional generation and network reinforcement will be required.

The time of day at which EV charging occurs could have significant implications for the electricity system. The Department of Transport expects that many consumers will charge their EVs at home in the future. Smart charging is when EV charging is optimised to occur at times of day when there is lower demand on the electricity system, or at times of high renewable electricity generation, which can help mitigate the impacts of this increased demand on the electricity system.

This response from consumers to assist with managing the grid is called Demand Side Response (DSR). Without smart charging, EV charging is likely to happen during existing electricity system peak times (such as between 5pm and 7pm) when many people arrive home from work. This would require significant levels of additional investment both in the networks that transport the electricity, with the costs borne ultimately by consumers, and in electricity generation capacity to meet increased demand.

The main provisions of the Regulations are as follows:

Scope: maximum flexibility and smart charging potential can be provided when a vehicle is plugged in for a long period of time (eg overnight or during the working day). Therefore, this Statutory Instrument applies to charge points intended for use by vans and cars in a domestic or workplace setting (excluding public charging). It also applies to cables that have smart functionality but excludes rapid charge points (charge points at or above 50 kW that are intended for charging quickly).

Smart functionality: the government’s overall policy aim for smart charging is to maximise its uptake amongst consumers. This Instrument aims to help drive uptake, by mandating that all domestic and workplace charge points in scope of the legislation and which are sold in Great Britain must have the technical capability to smart charge. The effect of the Instrument, therefore, is that those installing charge points at their home or workplace will only be able to install charge points with smart functionality. This will help drive the uptake of smart charging across Great Britain.

Interoperability: The ability of consumers to freely switch energy supplier is a fundamental principle in the energy market. The Instrument makes clear that a charge point should not introduce a new barrier to switching by being designed to lose its smart functionality when its owner changes supplier.

Loss of connectivity: Charge points will rely on a network connection to meet the smart requirements within the legislation, for example using Wi-Fi. This Instrument mandates that when the network connection is lost, a charge point must still be capable of charging an EV, to ensure users can always charge their vehicle when they need to.

Safety: There is little evidence that introducing smart functionality into EV charge points increases safety risks. However, this Instrument does include a provision to help mitigate any potential risks that could occur, to ensure consumers are protected. The Instrument mandates that during operation, the charge point must be setup to prevent users carrying out certain functions (such as a ‘consumer override’ of certain default functions), where these may result in a safety risk.

Measuring energy consumption: Data on energy consumption is important for consumers so they can monitor how much electricity they are using when charging their EV and compare different energy deals. The government has therefore included requirements within this Instrument to ensure consumers have access to such data. The Instrument mandates that, each time a smart charge point is used, it must measure or calculate how much electricity is imported/exported, and the time over which electricity is imported/exported. It mandates that the charge point owner must be able to view this data, so they can actively monitor their electricity consumption. A charge point also needs to measure or calculate this data to be operationally capable of supporting demand side response services. The Instrument sets an accuracy level of within 10% for all power and electricity import/export values and says a charge point must be capable of calculating the power value every one second. This will help ensure the data charge points generate can be used to help facilitate demand side response services.

Off-peak charging: The government’s aim is to maximise the uptake of smart charging, to increase the number of EV drivers who charge during times when electricity demand is low. To participate in smart charging, consumers ordinarily need both a smart charge point and to sign up to a smart charging service, such as an energy tariff where electricity prices are lower during periods of low electricity demand. This Instrument does not mandate that consumers must use the smart functionality of charge points nor sign-up to certain services. Therefore, to help mitigate the risk that some users do not engage with smart charging offers and instead charge during peak times, it mandates that charge points must be pre-set to not charge at times of high demand. The Instrument also mandates the charge point owners must be informed of this setting during first use and given the opportunity to edit or remove the setting. This option to change or remove the setting is also required to be available to the owner at any point after first use. The Instrument does allow for some charge points to be sold without this setting, where a charge point is being sold in combination with a smart charging service, described in the Instrument as a DSR agreement. The Instrument also requires that charge point owners should, subject to the safety provisions described above, be able to override on any given occasion the default mode of charging outside peak hours.

Randomised delay: One key objective for smart charging is grid stability, meaning to help maintain the balance between generation and demand of electricity at all times. If charge points all turn on or off (“switch”) simultaneously (for example, when turning on after a power outage) this could cause grid instability, due to the sharp increase or decrease in electricity demand from EVs. To mitigate this, this Instrument mandates that charge points should have a randomised delay function. This function means that before a charge point switches electricity load, it randomly generates a time in seconds (of up to 10 minutes) and won’t switch until this time has passed. This means charge points switch in a staggered way, spreading the electricity demand from EVs over a period of time. This setting will not apply if:

  1. A consumer cancels it.

  2. An immediate response is required from the charge point (for example, to provide contracted Demand Side Response).

  3. If a randomised delay has already been applied (for example, via a smart meter).

Cybersecurity: Cyber attacks on smart charge points, such as the hacking of devices, the systems that control them, or the communications between charge points and their operator, have the potential to threaten the stability of the electricity system. This Instrument includes device-level requirements in line with the best practices set out in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) Code of Practice for Internet of Things devices and the European cybersecurity standard, ETSI EN 303 645. These requirements are intended to ensure that charge points employ good ‘cyber hygiene’, including the use of unique passwords, the secure storage of sensitive information, and the encryption of communications sent to and from a charge point. The Code of Practice for Internet of Things devices is available here.

Assurance: To prove compliance with these regulations, this Instrument requires there to be:

  1. A statement of compliance.

  2. A technical file which outlines how a charge point meets the regulations.

A statement of compliance must be provided with each charge point at the point of sale, and the technical file must be made available to the consumer when requested. A person who sells a charge point must also keep a register of all charge points sold within the past 10 years.

Enforcement: To enable the effective enforcement of these provisions, this Instrument provides the person responsible for enforcing the Instrument (referred to as the enforcement authority) with various powers. These include powers of entry (both with and without a warrant) in addition to a power to require provision of information and documents necessary to monitor compliance (by serving an ‘information notice’). These powers will be used to assess compliance where remote evidence is insufficient or where a known breach has occurred, and further investigation is needed to ascertain the extent of the breach. Associated powers have also been provided for investigation, seizure and detention of any relevant products, records or other information.

Penalties: In the event of non-compliance, the enforcement authority may issue a civil penalty up to a maximum of £10,000 in respect of each non-compliant charge point sold, and a maximum of £250,000 for obstructing the enforcement authority, knowingly making false statements and certain other similar matters.

Other enforcement provisions: In lieu of imposing financial penalties, the enforcement authority can issue a compliance notice requiring specified action to be taken or may accept a written undertaking to ensure no further breach will occur, that the position is restored to what it would have been had the breach not been committed, or that action is taken to benefit any person impacted by the breach, within a specific time period. This Instrument also mandates that the enforcement authority publishes the cases in which civil sanctions have been imposed and cases in which an enforcement undertaking has been entered into, except where the sanction has been overturned on appeal or where a publication is considered inappropriate.

What’s changed?

This is a new Statutory Instrument.

The Regulations are available here.

An explanatory memorandum can be found here.

Parliament February 2022


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