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Learning from Intelligent Octopus: electric vehicle charging behaviours & automation


Ryan Jenkinson, Maria Jacob, Daniel Lopez Garcia

behavioural insights electric vehicle charging

The energy transition will result in a proliferation of low carbon technologies (LCTs). These will impact household electricity consumption patterns and their energy bills. As our previous work identifies, electric vehicles present the largest load from a single LCT type. If all electric vehicle charging were to be left unmanaged, there is a risk that higher energy consumption coincides with existing high grid load periods. This could result in unnecessarily high bills for consumers or even challenges with grid stability. We therefore need to better understand how people are currently using EVs to design a system that avoids this.

There are mechanisms that can help reduce grid strain by incentivising customers to switch their energy use to periods outside of grid peaks through Time-of-Use (ToU) tariffs. One way we can help change behaviours is through automation, with benefits for consumers and the grid. Customers on the Intelligent Octopus beta tariff are exploring some of this potential right now, offering us valuable insights into how the future might look.

In this analysis, we explain how this tariff is different from other Octopus Energy tariffs. Secondly, we explore patterns of electric vehicle charging activity and share key behavioural insights. Finally, we comment on the key findings relevant for future energy systems. We also comment on how consumers interact with automation and technology, and point to key research areas for the future.

To read the full report, click ‘read online’ in the right-hand side box.