Electric car owners could pay just £100 per year to charge their cars up overnight, according to researchers.

Research commissioned by the WWF found that electric car drivers would spend around £170 per year to plug in and charge their vehicle by 2030.

They also found that, if smart charging technology became widespread, motorists could reduce this cost by a further £70. The typical fuel bill for a petrol car in the UK is £800.

The government has committed to phasing out new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, but the conservation charity warns that 20+ years is too long to wait.

WWF asked consultants Vivid Economics to find out what would happen if petrol and diesel sales were ended ten years earlier, in 2030.

The first part of the report, released in March this year, showed that a 2030 phase-out would help the UK meet legal air pollution limits and support the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The second part of the research looked into the energy requirements of electric vehicles (EVs), the potential of smart charging technology and reusing EV batteries for energy storage.

Researchers created two scenarios based on a 2040 and a 2030 end date for combustible engine sales.

In the 2040 scenario, they forecasted that there would be around 13 million electric cars and vans on the road by 2030.

On the 2030 projection, they forecasted that there would be around 20 million electric vehicles on the road in 2030.  

Researchers found that the energy system could cope with a 2030 end date for petrol and diesel sales with no coal or biomass, no additional nuclear power and a third less baseload gas compared with today.

They also found that meeting the government’s 2040 target would add £2.4bn to the annual cost of running the electricity system.

A 2030 phase out, which includes smart charging would be £0.4bn cheaper for the electricity system compared with a 2040 phase out with no smart charging.

Smart charging reduces EV impact on the electricity system because it defers charging to times when overall electricity demand is low – such as overnight.

Under the standard charging model, researchers assumed that most owners charge their vehicle in the early evening (when they arrive home from work). This is when overall electricity demand is at its peak.

In the smart charging model, 90% of EV owners charge their cars at off-peak times – overnight or in the middle of the day.

Under a 2030 phase-out, smart charging would have a value to the electricity system of £1.7bn in 2030.

Electric vehicles that can be charged at home, at the office or in special public charging zones around the country are becoming more popular.

But there is still a long way to go before the estimated 155,000 electric cars on the road at present become 13 or 20 million by 2030.

The cars are likely to become more popular as the technology and supporting infrastructure improves.

Lithium-ion batteries are improving each day, with improved capacity enabling drivers to travel further between recharges.

The charging infrastructure is also improving. According to Zap Map, there are now more than 16,000 connectors in more than 5,500 charging locations across the UK.

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