November 17 2021

Steven Meersman, one of the Founders of Zenobe, is speaking at CPT’s decarbonising coaches event on Wednesday 1 December, ‘Zero Emission Coaches: Turning Theory into Reality’. Here Steven writes for us about how we can redesign and decarbonise the transport system.

As they decarbonise, the energy and transport sectors are merging. Policy needs to adapt.

Decarbonising transport shouldn’t mean just ramping up electric car production and installing charge points. Collectively, we must recognise that the net zero project is an opportunity to redesign the transport system, as well as to change how we fuel it. As the transport sector electrifies, it is merging with the energy network. And there is potential to decarbonise some kinds of transport, such as buses, faster than others. To take advantage of these opportunities, we need informed, dynamic leadership from policymakers, and more support for the approaches that drive transformation fast and at scale. By incentivising the uptake of zero-emissions public transport, we can provide a decarbonisation roadmap for other parts of the transport network.

Opponents of electrification like to repeat that decarbonising the transport sector will massively increase electricity demand, overloading the grid. These doomy predictions lack detail. They don’t reflect how industry-wide collaboration is driving down the need for new network reinforcement, and they don’t communicate how electric vehicles can respond to the needs of renewable energy systems. Every electric vehicle is a battery on wheels, capable of discharging power as well as absorbing it. This means they can manage the ebb and flow of renewable energy, maintaining system stability. When generation is low and demand is high, electric vehicles equipped with two-way charging devices can send electricity back into the grid. And when renewables produce more electricity than the system needs, electric vehicles connected to smart meters can act as distributed storage infrastructure – myriad small batteries, absorbing surplus energy and stabilising the grid. These innovations, alongside others such as stationary battery storage or software that coordinates charging with periods of low demand, can boost grid capacity. Electric vehicles are not a challenge to building a secure, zero-carbon energy system – they are part of the solution.

To find out more about the decarbonising coaches event, click here.