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What is it like to run your business with EVs, Solar Panels and Batteries in Moray?

MJD Systems have recently expanded their electric vehicle fleet to include two MG electric cars which have replaced two of our Corsa vans.  We chose this after having successfully run company and personal EVs in the family for more than 8 years and felt the MG cars were the right fit for range as well as practicality for carrying our engineer’s kit.  As we have had some form of electric vehicle in the business or family since 2015 we’ve experienced the initial challenges and learning curves of the change and felt ready to expand our electric fleet.  We want to discuss the common questions and challenges with an honest review of what it is like to run your business with EVs, Solar Panels and Batteries in Moray.

The first comment we usually get is “But you live in Scotland, it’s always raining!” Solar doesn’t need full sun and no clouds to provide power!  Over the years we have been pleasantly surprised to discover that even on overcast days we can power our office or charge the batteries at Spey Bay and our remote offices.  But if we look at the Met Office’s data on sunshine duration for the UK, Moray lands in one of the sunniest parts of the UK last year!  Also, for Winter 2024 it was one of the sunniest places in the UK, during a Scottish winter!  It might be easy to believe on a dreich winter’s day that solar is pointless, but this is just not true. 

As an IT Managed Service Provider, we need electricity daily.  It made sense for us to invest in solar panels and a battery system to help us reduce our reliance on the grid for power and to help us reduce our carbon footprint and impact on the planet.  The installation of electric car chargers allowed us to make use of the solar energy to charge the vehicles.  It also opens up electricity tariffs designed for EVs which allows us to charge at cheaper rates while reducing our demand on the grid during peak times.  Currently, upon reviewing April we are pleasantly surprised at the amount of solar power generated and found we did not need to pull from the grid.  We really can’t stress enough that solar is a viable solution here in Moray.

A big piece of introducing EVs to your fleet is ensuring the education of your workforce who will be driving the vehicles as well as supporting them the change in thinking for driving and fuelling an EV.  The main reason why we don’t believe the range of an EV to be an issue on a long-distance journey is, you will always need to stop for toilet breaks and food/drink breaks.  By the time our engineers have taken their break, and if required have found a charger and plugged the vehicle in they have received enough charge to continue their journey in the time their break took.  While it can be easy to compare the charging of an EV to filling a tank of fuel, you can forget how long you spent going to the toilet or getting and eating your food on your journey.  The change required is just about planning your journey.  Additionally, driving an EV is more about reading the road ahead and making small adjustments in plenty of time to increase driving efficiency.

As businesses we are always keeping an eye on our costs.  Yes, they may be higher initial investment.  However, there are more and more affordable options on the market as more manufacturers create their own electric cars.  The running costs are significantly cheaper when you take advantage of charging back at base (i.e. the office or home) and the maintenance costs are lower.  We have had chargers installed at our engineers houses where required and operate a reimbursement system to pay for any electricity they need to use from their home charger.  Another factor is the planning of site visits.  Prior to the additions of the MGs, we always used to try and group site visits together into areas to minimise the mileage and time taken travelling.  This is no different with an electric vehicle, this just helps to increase the cost savings of operating your EVs.  Currently, they are also a lower BIK in comparison to petrol or diesel vehicles.  And, these vehicles have access to low emissions zones, so no need to worry about additional charges.

While this may seem to some a small benefit, we do like to highlight that driving an EV is more pleasant due to the reduced noise with no engine.  This creates a far less stressful environment when driving in the vehicle and therefore benefits our workforce’s mental wellbeing when driving.

We have had our MGs for a few months now and our engineers are enjoying them.  We haven’t seen any detrimental impacts to the business and are reaping the benefits due to the complimentary nature of these vehicles to our existing setup.  We would highly recommend anyone who is thinking of taking a step in this direction to go for it, you won’t regret it and possibly only wonder why you didn’t start sooner.  As a fellow Chamber member we would be more than happy to chat to anyone with queries on the practicalities of any of the solar panels, battery or EVs fitting in with their business as there are advantages to be gained for Moray businesses and our planet.