Currently reading: UK national grid can handle EV surge, experts say
Mass adoption of electric cars is predicted due to government's 2030 ICE ban, but infrastructure can cope
James Attwood, digital editor
News
3 mins read
22 February 2021

The UK’s national grid will be able to cope with the mass adoption of EVs by 2030, even with the public charging network also growing exponentially by then, according to experts.

Speaking during the Autocar Business Live event on the infrastructure challenges presented by the government’s 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars, Graeme Cooper, National Grid’s project director for transport decarbonisation, dismissed fears that the grid won't be able to cope with the resulting energy needs.

He said: “By 2030, we will have 40Gw of offshore wind power in the UK, which is an additional 30Gw compared to today. We will need more smart consumption to support that, but the energy market will grow, because we’re electrifying more things, such as cars.

“The government has a policy to ensure high-power on-route charging and has put £950 million of funding in place to make sure that every motorway service area in England will have adequate future-proof capacity for everyone to have clean transport.

“You need the comfort that you can charge on route at speed, so the challenge is the grid. The government has put funding aside and a policy in place. You’ll start to see future proof capacity going into motorway service areas in the next two or three years, in plenty of time for a hockey-stick uptake in electric car sales.”

Cooper added that government investment is to ensure the infrastructure so that private companies can provide the chargers.

Meanwhile, Ben Fletcher, the EV project lead of ‘clean-tech’ software specialist Moixa, said that the business opportunities provides by EV charging will ensure a rapid growth of the charging network ahead of 2030.

“The hockey stick [demand curve] we see with [electric] vehicles is following a similar trend in the number of charge points that are out there,” said Cooper.

“The more people who buy EVs, the greater the market that's out there for charging those vehicles and the greater commercial imperative there is for the companies running those networks to put more units into the ground where people are going to use them.

“The charging network will keep up, because there's a commercial benefit for it to keep up – and because there’s a customer imperative to it, because if you buy one, you’ll want to be able to charge it and will do what you can to do that.”

Cooper also suggested that the growth in the charging network – and the realisation that EVs won’t need to be charged daily – means that drivers without the ability to install a home charger shouldn’t be put off driving an EV.

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Asked what he would say to someone with such concerns, Cooper joked: “I would ask 'do they have a petrol pump on the street outside their house?'” He continued: “They will see lots of opportunities coming out, such as lamp-post chargers.

"Also, there will be an activity they do regularly, such as a weekly shop, going to the gym or catching a train, which they can use a faster charger while they’re doing.

“Having the right charger in the right location means you can have an electric car even if you don’t have a driveway.”

READ MORE

Autocar business live webinar video on demand: Electric cars - the infrastructure challenge

How the National Grid will work with electric cars 

What's it like at the UK's first bespoke electric car forecourt? 

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289 24 February 2021

Just cant take Graeme Cooper seriously when he makes a daft comment like "does everyone have a petrol pump on the street outside their house"!

adrian888 22 February 2021
Well he would say that, wouldn’t he? Simply dont beleive it. So when all new homes are electrically heated, and there is no wind on a cold winters night where does all the energy come from? EV’s with reduced range, repeat rapid charging that damages battery efficacy etc Never had the emporer less clothes.
djhf 22 February 2021
Where from? Gas power stations that will still provide a large portion of our power by 2030, nuclear, other mix of renewables (hydro, biomass, geothermal) and energy storage solutions in time.

Vast majority (almost all) won't need to rapid charge frequently and all evidence shows batteries are lasting longer than IC engines tend to.

The Colonel 23 February 2021
djhf wrote:

Where from? Gas power stations that will still provide a large portion of our power by 2030, nuclear, other mix of renewables (hydro, biomass, geothermal) and energy storage solutions in time. Vast majority (almost all) won't need to rapid charge frequently and all evidence shows batteries are lasting longer than IC engines tend to.

You can't go around offering, calm, sensible, "look to the future, not the now" explanations. It doesn't suit the angry "enthusiast" knee jerking. Combined with the lip trembling that comes with clutch pedal removal and the eye twitching that simulated exhaust noise brings on, they are finding they have less and less control over their cars, err bodies.  

I don't believe it 24 February 2021
Next you will be saying that Teslas are well built reliable cars.
The major problem is the massive increase in unreliable electricity and consequently a Hugh hike in prices.
Because of the supply preference being given to wind and solar, gas fired power stations are going out of business. Where is the back up going to come from?
PaulHa 22 February 2021

Having watched the webinar 3 questions came to mind:

1. What happens during holiday getaways e.g. public holidays on motorways, there is already evidence in the US of long queues at Tesla Supercharger stations - even parking in UK motorway service stations can be difficult on public holidays - will all parking spaces end up with fast charging and will the local grid cope and/or deliver fast charging to all cars, or a reduced service?

2. Vehicle to Grid seems a good way of better managing peak electricity grid demand between 4pm and 7pm on weekdays, but very few manufacturers seem to be interested in supporting it - Nissan being the current exception, along with Hyunda's upcoming Ioniq 5. Can the government mandate these on new vehicles?

3. If government are funding the local grid infrastructure for motorway service stations to enable mass fast charging, will they impose caps of potentially high charging costs e.g. Ionity's 69p/kWh or are they hoping competition will reduce prices (it doesn't work for the monopoly petrol stations on the motorway)?

The Colonel 23 February 2021
PaulHa wrote:

Having watched the webinar 3 questions came to mind:

1. What happens during holiday getaways e.g. public holidays on motorways, there is already evidence in the US of long queues at Tesla Supercharger stations - even parking in UK motorway service stations can be difficult on public holidays - will all parking spaces end up with fast charging and will the local grid cope and/or deliver fast charging to all cars, or a reduced service?

2. Vehicle to Grid seems a good way of better managing peak electricity grid demand between 4pm and 7pm on weekdays, but very few manufacturers seem to be interested in supporting it - Nissan being the current exception, along with Hyunda's upcoming Ioniq 5. Can the government mandate these on new vehicles?

3. If government are funding the local grid infrastructure for motorway service stations to enable mass fast charging, will they impose caps of potentially high charging costs e.g. Ionity's 69p/kWh or are they hoping competition will reduce prices (it doesn't work for the monopoly petrol stations on the motorway)?

I think 1 and 3 are somewhat related in that the companies that own and operate service stations, and regular filling stations, will need to diversify what they offer in any case. At the moment a motorway service station has a minority of spaces as charging "compounds" whereas in the future every parking space will be a charging soace once demand requires it (there's already a number of sites in France doing just that).  

Of course that's not so easy for filling stations to adapt to in such an organic way, but conversely , charging stations are easier to set up from virgin ground, so to speak, require less specialised licensing, servicing, etc, so the gaps will be filled. Plus a greater proliferation of in street. Before we even get into the future possibilities of charging.  

The biggest issue now, and likely in the future too, is the basket case of different suppliers and their behaviour and methods. Competition may well help with pricing, but standards are needed in terms of interface and reliability / maintenance of service.  

2. is a good one but it comes down to government. They need to bring back feed in tarrifs and incentivise the practice. I believe that will happen, especially with a growth in smart metering and charging, but it may be at the expense of Economy 7, on the basis that one benefits from the feed in so pay back at the overnight charge.