Electric vehicle fears dismissed: National Grid soothes concerns over leap in energy demand

National Grid has played down concerns that the shift away from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles could lead to a huge jump in UK power demand.

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Aug 10, 2017
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As part of efforts to tackle air pollution and climate change, the Government has announced plans to ban the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

The move led to suggestions that charging a large fleet of UK electric cars could dramatically push up peak electricity demand.

The concerns focused on a recent analysis from National Grid which said as much as 30 gigawatts (GW) of additional power could be needed at peak times by 2040 - the equivalent of almost 10 Hinkley Point C nuclear power stations.

But in a new “myth-buster” document, National Grid said such a situation was an “outlier”, and more likely scenarios predicted much lower extra peak demand by 2040.

The extra 30GW would only be needed in a world where there were no petrol or diesel cars on the road by 2040 as a result of plummeting electric vehicle costs, there was little thought for environmental concerns such as tackling climate change and society was rich enough to allow widespread charging of cars at peak time and peak prices.

National Grid’s set of four “core” scenarios outlining the likely potential impacts of electric vehicles found that peak demand for electricity could rise by between 4GW and 10GW by 2040.

In its new document, the company said the Government’s bid to ban petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040 made the scenario in which the UK is taking effective steps to tackle climate emissions the most probable.

That would mean most cars are fully electric vehicles by 2040, and they would push up peak demand by around 5GW, around an 8% increase on current levels.

The assessment said that in such a scenario, people would be using “smart” chargers which would know how much electricity cost throughout the day and when drivers would need their vehicle to be fully charged.

And there would be “time of use” tariffs which make electricity more expensive during peak times, so smart systems would power up car batteries out of peak hours where possible to save money, reducing the impact of car charging on the grid.

National Grid also said building new nuclear reactors would be a difficult and costly way to meet short periods of peak demand, as they give constant output and cannot be turned on and off easily.

Ten nuclear power stations would supply around 10 times what would be needed for the annual electric vehicle demand in 2040.

Download the full document here

 

 

Go to the profile of Jade Taylor-Salazar

Jade Taylor-Salazar

Supplements editor , Engineering and Technology

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