The push to go electric will not just have consequences for carmakers and transport groups. It is also driving significant changes at the multibillion-pound electricity companies — such as Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), an arm of FTSE 100 utility SSE and UK Power Networks — that manage local power grids and are on the front line as demand increases for charging points. Faced with unexpected surges in demand for electricity, such as when a fleet of electric vehicles is plugged in simultaneously, these “distribution network operators” are having to rapidly change their businesses. They need to ensure they can cope with the extra demand and prevent problems that, in the worst case, could lead to local power shortages. Electric vehicles are just one of the challenges networks operators are facing. The proliferation of solar panels on the roofs of homes and wind turbines that connect directly to local networks are also making their job more complicated, as they can create unpredictable surges in supply during particularly sunny or windy periods. Green Alliance, a think-tank, says it could take as few as six “closely-located” vehicles charging simultaneously at a time when electricity is already in high demand — such as during the evening — for there to be possible shortages. The issue is not one of overall capacity but the possibility that electric vehicles will create additional demand during peak times.
FT 21st May 2017 read more »