Power demand to rocket for electric vehicles

Power demand to rocket for electric vehicles
The peak demand for power caused by increased ownership of electric cars could one day require the equivalent of five extra Hinkley Point C nuclear plants, the Nation Grid claims.

The Grid proposes that by 2030 the UK could be home to nine million electric vehicles, while by 2050 – they could realistically account for over 90% of all new car sales.

As such the demand for power will be dramatically increased, with up to 18 additional gigawatts (GW) representing a 30% increase on current peak demand.

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The shift towards an all-electric future is steadily gaining momentum. Last week it was revealed that all new Volvo cars are to have an electric motor from 2019.

Another example of progress can be seen in the capital, where as many as 75 high-speed roadside charge points are to appear across London with taxis in the capital charged with going electric by January 2018.

The National Grid’s annual report investigates what it calls ‘future energy scenarios’, including how the country may be using energy and where it comes from.

If most drivers were to ignore cheaper-to-use, off-peak electricity rates when charging their cars at home, the high level of additional peak demand would be triggered.

The way to prevent this, it claims – and potentially keep down the rise in demand to only 6GW – is to better utilise smart technology.

It says the rise of shared autonomous vehicles which charge off-peak in central locations could play a big factor.

Other technology which could affect how the grid needs to be managed includes the development of super rapid charging allowing vehicles to travel long distances on a five minute charge, and the potential to run power back from vehicles to the grid.

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The National Grid’s head of energy insights Marcus Stewart insists the scenarios set out are not predictions, but rather aimed at sparking debate and decisions on the future.

“The energy landscape is changing rapidly and becoming more diverse and complex,” he said. “An energy system with high levels of distributed and renewable generation is already a reality.

“Electric vehicles are one of many new technologies that are rapidly transforming the energy sector; technical progress and cost reductions in storage and solar panels have driven major change in a short space of time.

“This new era of network operation is exciting and manageable, but it's important there is investment in smart technologies and electricity infrastructure, and a co-ordinated approach across the whole electricity system”.

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.