Ensuring that Britain installs enough charging points is one challenge for the electric vehicle rollout. Ensuring that there is enough electricity available to power them is quite another. “Every day there are 125 million litres of petrol and diesel consumed in the UK for road transport — about 45 billion litres a year,” Tom Pakenham, director of electric vehicles at Ovo Energy, said. “All the energy in that fuel will have to be delivered in future through the electricity system, which is a huge amount of extra energy. It’s about as much as the current residential electricity market today.” National Grid, the company responsible for keeping the lights on in Britain, hit the headlines in 2017 when it published its worst-case scenarios. It forecast that if all cars sold by 2040 were plug-in electric vehicles, and if drivers were free to charge whenever they pleased, then by 2050 the teatime peak electricity demand could increase by as much as 30 gigawatts — 50 per cent higher than winter peak demand now. That additional power demand would be equivalent to almost ten Hinkley Point C power plants. National Grid has been at pains to emphasise since then that it doesn’t expect such alarming scenarios to materialise because it foresees the adoption of “smart charging” — whereby chargers would automatically draw more power from the grid when it is plentiful, such as when there is an abundance of solar and wind generation, and less when it is scarce, such as the teatime peak. It also expects that vehicle-to-grid technology, whereby electric vehicle batteries can be used to charge power back to the grid, will help. Its most recent analyses suggest that the combination of these technologies could reduce the additional demand from electric vehicles to less than five gigawatts by 2050, although it will not eliminate the problem altogether. For example, when it comes to fast-charging on the go, waiting for a pick-up in renewable energy is not practical — and demand is likely to be significant. Shell and BP have begun to instal 150-kilowatt rapid chargers at their forecourts, each drawing power equivalent to that of 50 houses.
Times 14th Jan 2020 read more »