Electric vehicles to increase Britain’s electricity demand by 31 times by 2040

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As a result of an increase in electric vehicle use across Britain, electricity demand from the transport sector will increase by 31 times by 2040 from the current levels, according to a new report released by research firm Cornwall Insights.

The Benchmark power curve report states that electric vehicles will contribute an additional 71.6TWh of energy capacity by 2040. This is a 25% increase of current annual demand which stands at 299TWh (excluding losses).

The electrification of the economy (electric vehicles & heat pumps) and use of green hydrogen as an energy carrier, all increase demand from 298TWh in 2021-22 to 628.4TWh in the Central Scenario (see figure 1) by 2040 and up to 668.2TWh in the High Scenario, according to the study.

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Tom Edwards, a senior modeller at Cornwall Insight, said: “EVs are widely seen as crucial in reducing emissions to meet net-zero. However, the magnitude of the impact that the technology will have on the electricity system should not be underestimated. If EVs increase according to the National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios (FES) Leading the Way scenario, the increase in demand for electricity will be substantial.

“However, EVs have the potential to offer the system considerable flexible vehicle-to-grid (V2G) discharging and smart charging, which reduces the level of investment needed in flexible power supply.

“At the same time, greater flexibility may be needed if consumers were to charge whenever it is convenient, and with the wide deployment of EVs needed to meet net-zero, it is clear that this would currently not be possible.

“The electrification of transport remains a significant challenge, particularly if the current market design remains the same. However, to sustain such a growth in demand, it is likely that the market design will need to change to better support the net-zero objectives.”