EV Boom Could Cause Blackouts Say Ministers

Wed 22nd Jan 2020

Government ministers are warning that the national grid could crumble under the weight of pressure with the demand for electricity to charge electric vehicles set to rise significantly.

Leading experts from the Electric Vehicle Energy Task Force have commissioned a report which warns that unless a ‘smart charging’ infrastructure is put in place the country could see a rise in the kind of electrical powercuts which left more than one million residents without power in the summer of 2019.

The report suggests billions need spending to cope with demand: “The infrastructure spending required to prepare the UK electricity networks for the electric vehicle transition is likely to run to tens of billions of pounds.

“The Taskforce believes this cost can be significantly reduced if the right decisions are made and the transition is effectively coordinated between government and key energy, infrastructure and transport industry stakeholders. 

“A prior study put this figure at between £2.7billion and £6.5billion.”

That ‘smarter’ approach to the network would see a better management of the dealing with quiet times and high volume use. Some energy providers are already working with EV charging technology to charge cars in the middle of the night, in some cases actually paying customers to use the apps involved. However much more work needs to be done says the report.

“The electricity produced by generators, or supplied from storage devices, must exactly balance the demand for electricity on a second-by-second basis.

“This is generally referred to as maintaining system stability. If this balance is not maintained the system can fail.”

EV registrations rose by 144 per cent in 2019, with 2020 figures predicted to go even higher and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has urged the government to be more proactive.

Mike Hawes, chief executive at the motor industry body, said: “We urgently need more supportive policies: investment in infrastructure; broader measures to encourage uptake of the latest, low and zero emission cars; and long term purchase incentives to put the UK at the forefront of this technological shift.”