Electric cars and the grid – will energy prices increase?
The share of the UK’s electricity consumption for charging electric vehicles will increase from 0.03% in 2014 to as much as 9.5% by 2050, according to a report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
Additional electricity will be required to meet the extra energy demand. The EEA estimates that by 2050, 80% of vehicles will run on electricity. This is clearly a significant shift in consumer behaviour, but is the UK prepared?
Challenges for electric cars and the grid
The government recently announced a ban on new petrol & diesel cars and vans by 2040. The additional demand due to electric vehicles presents significant challenges for the grid.
How much electricity is needed to charge cars?
According to a report from the National Grid, Peak demand for electricity could increase by as much as 50 per cent by 2040
What kind of electricity generation would be used? That same report outlines 4 likely scenarios of different electricity generation sources. At the time of writing, the Electricity Map shows that we only generate 28% of our energy from renewable sources and as such has a lot of room for improvement.
How will peaks and troughs in charging cars be managed? Advances in battery technology will allow renewable energy generation to be better utilised. This would happen by storing excess generation during off-peak times, ready to be used when needed. This also means that through using a smart grid, we can take better advantage of renewable energy sources e.g. We’d be able to store energy from the North Sea’s Offshore Wind Farm overnight ready for use during peak hours.
Improving and developing the infrastructure
The EEA’s report suggests that electric cars produce overwhelmingly less CO2 than petrol and diesel. The UK doesn’t currently have the right infrastructure to electrically charge as much as 80% of the UK’s vehicles. So that electric vehicle charging is sustainable, the UK needs to continue to reduce it’s Carbon Intensity (gCO2eq/kWh) by increasing our renewable energy production.
Change in consumer behaviour
Would local charge points become the norm? The Netherlands has embraced electric charging points and in many of their cities, they have electric car parking spaces on each street, allowing drivers to charge their cars with ease. What could be done to encourage this sort of behaviour in the UK?
The future of electric cars and the grid
The switch to electric vehicles will require a lot of work and a lot of different parties’ interests to be managed. Collaboration between the automotive industry, the energy sector and government will be required to make these changes successful for future generations.