U.K. grid has sufficient capacity for electric vehicles


London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — October 31, 2008 – The U.K. electricity grid has sufficient generating capacity to cope with the expected uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), provided that demand for charging is managed and targeted at off-peak hours where there is currently surplus capacity.

This is among the findings of a study into the scope for switching to EVs and PHEVs that was conducted for the departments of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform and Transport by Arup and Cenex.

The uptake in the U.K. is projected to range from 70,000 to as many 2.6 million EVs and between 200,000 to 500,000 PHEVs by 2020, and up to 5.8 million EVs and 14.8 million PHEVs by 2030, depending on the level of interventions taken to encourage their introduction. The total demand for these vehicles is estimated at between 400 GWh and 7,400 GWh, or 0.1 percent to 2 percent of national electricity production, in 2020, and up to 31,000 GWh (7.9 percent of NEP) in 2030. As the preferred time for consumers to charge their vehicles is likely to be when they return home, which is closely aligned to the evening peak generation period, overnight charging of vehicles would need to be encouraged through variable electricity tariffs, in order to avoid significant load on the grid.

The development of smart metering systems that are able to automatically select charging times and tariffs to suit both the consumer and generating sectors will aid the management of load on the grid, says the report. The impact of vehicle charging on local networks and infrastructure is a critical area for study in future pilot and demonstration projects.

The study finds that EVs have the potential to offer significant carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions reductions compared to conventional petrol/diesel fuelled internal combustion engines – of the order of approximately 40 percent based on the current U.K. grid mix and increasing as the mix is further decarbonized.

However, the widespread rollout of EVs and PHEVs is dependent on advances in battery technology – principally improvements in cost, performance and safety – and on the development of charging infrastructure – both in-home and on-street – to ensure consumer confidence in the ability to recharge their vehicles with minimal inconvenience. Battery exchange would require a high level of vehicle standardization and also there should be standardization of recharging systems to ensure that all vehicles can make use of all available charging points.

According to the report, due to vehicle development lead times, the mass production and volume availability of EVs and PHEVs is unlikely to occur before 2014 at the earliest, and thereafter the market will require stimulation through appropriate incentives for widespread rollout.
Pilot and demonstration projects will be critical to address the questions and concerns of all stakeholders involved in EVs and PHEVs in order to provide an evidence base for their possible future wider rollout.