My Electric Avenue Project Denies Claims That UK Grid Is Not Ready For Mass Amount Of Electric Cars

2 years ago by Mark Kane 43

My Electric Avenue

My Electric Avenue

Nissan LEAF in My Electric Avenue

National grid blackout attempt

In the UK, The Sun recently raised concerns on the electric car charging infrastructure by posting an article entitled “Energy Secretary: Electric cars could trigger National Grid blackout“.

With reporting UK sales nearly every month, we already know that there are tens of thousands of people who are already trying to make a national grid blackout (by driving plug-ins)…but they’ve been unsuccessful, just like those who also own toasters or other electrical appliances.

Apparently, so far someone is smart enough to get more energy blocks and power lines in place as the demand has grown over time.

According to the article, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd is worried about the electric grid when millions of electric cars are on the road.

“Energy Secretary Amber Rudd is so worried she asked the Cabinet Office to referee the dispute.

A source said: “Environment and transport ministers want millions more electric cars on the streets.

“But when Amber saw these plans her reaction was ‘f***, f***, f***’ because she is really worried we don’t have enough power.

“Supplies are stretched already so imagine if everyone charges their cars at the same time.

“She called in Cabinet Office Minister Oliver Letwin but he said the real issue is delivering power to homes — which is not governmental responsibility.”

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

The problem with such thinking is that the lead time between 45,000 EVs on the road and let’s say 5,000,000 EVs, is also more than a significant enough time period to allow for improvement of the infrastructure step-by-step.

Especially since most EVs are charging while other electric appliances are off at night, so the peak demand isn’t even growing directly.

My Electric Avenue report states that the UK electric network will withstand millions of EVs. Only 32% of local electricity networks will need upgrading to accommodate a time when 40-70% of cars are electric. The current market share of new cars exceed 1%, while share in the total fleet is not easily measured at this point in time.

“The results, which come at a time when sales of plug-in cars have increased by 716% over the past two years, show that across Britain 32% of low voltage (LV) feeders (312,000 circuits) will require intervention when 40% – 70% of customers have EVs, based on 3.5 kW (16 amp) charging. Susceptible networks are typically characterised by available capacity of less than 1.5 kW per customer.”

We have plenty of time to upgrade weak spots in the system.

On the other hand, demand for electricity is good news for all kinds of powerplants, as their job is to produce and sell electricity (hopefully using clean methods of production).

Investment in powerplants is profitable over the long-term, so we don’t think utilities will complain when there are millions of electric cars on the roads. And more and more EV owners are adding solar and home energy storage all the time, so this blackout threat seems a non issue to us.

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43 responses to "My Electric Avenue Project Denies Claims That UK Grid Is Not Ready For Mass Amount Of Electric Cars"

  1. pjwood1 says:

    Merry Christmas! Between off-peak load, and new nuclear plans in the U.K. (24/7 baseload), the only problem may be day time charging. Answer: adjust time of day rates appropriately.

    ..now, about all those drones charging right now 😉

  2. Big Solar says:

    My Imiev used to knock out central floridas grid everytime I plugged it into my 240 outlet. However when I used 110 to charge it only the lights in the neighborhood dimmed for a second.
    Merry Christmas!

    1. Jon says:

      Does that happen with you vacuum cleaner they both have roughly the same draw on 110volt

      1. Sting777 says:

        You think it’s a joke everyone will get.
        You’d be wrong about that.

  3. Bill Howland says:

    This is another one of those non-sensical articles that claim standard evs are having any effect at all with the electric infrastructure.

    My large christmas tree, at around 1800 watts, uses about the same amount of electricity as both my cars charging simultaneously at a little over 900 watts a piece.

    In New York state (M Hovis will get mad at me for saying this), it would be like me claiming that my Solar panel installation is having any effect at all except for me personally. The truth of the matter is, all NYS utilities are not required to net-meter, once 1% of us sign up on a per-utility basis.

    The hope is, of course that once this happens (we’re no where near even that insignifican benchmark), that the laws will be changed, and also that, experience is being gained by Chinese, German, and American Solar panel manufacturers and inverter companies. But, am I having any effect at the moment on the ‘grid’.. None whatsoever.

    British readers, would you mind telling we Americans what you pay for your electricity, – namely the total price you pay over what period of time (in the states it is on a monthly basis), and whether you pay the same amount for all usage 24/7/365, or if there are seasonal or time-of-day rates, as well as any special dispensation for EV drivers.

    THe last time I checked (I don’t know myself since I make so much solar polar I don’t know how much NATIONAL GRID charges on a month to month basis unless I check with a friend’s utility bill), it was 11 cents/kwh marginal cost 24/7/365. My deal on the overage, was 3 1/2 cents/kwh on the annual ‘excess’ solar power generated (which they immediately sell to my next door neighbors at 11).

    Britain as far as I can gleen is somewhat unique amoung European countries seeing as distribution in residential neighborhoods seems to be substantially single phase.

    So Britains have the noteworthyness of having the most economically possible distribution system in the world, as it is 230/460 single phase on the pole as opposed to our 120/240 volt system. Doubling the voltage allows % voltage drops to Quarter, therefore, while transformer spacings have to be one every 500 feet in the states, they could be one every 2000 feet in Britain. Of course, since 2 wires are only sent to the home, the homeowner only sees the 230, where he is effectly in series with his next door neighbor and the distribution is substantially at 460 volts.

    1. ggpa says:

      230/460?

      I thought Britain used 3-phase distribution 240/415. They have no need for the expensive split-phase distribution of the USA.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        They do, in general. Single phase is the cheapest distribution since on a WYE system you only need to provide 1 insulated wire as opposed to 3 (1/3 the cost). Try re-reading.
        Also, the British call it split-phase, where in North America it refers to a resistance starting method universally used 60 years ago for household appliances but not so much now.

        1. ggpa says:

          Bill, please clarify and/or add a link!

          I really thought UK mainly used 3 phase distribution transformers (240V line-neutral, 415V line-line) and small consumers (e.g. individual homes) would each get all their power from single phase 240V only, with next door neighbors commonly on different phases. No 460V in sight.

          So your comment about longer transformer spacings would be true.

          1. Bill Howland says:

            Well the only basis I have for saying what i did is I saw in a photograph one of the rare overhead distributions in Britain (supposedly the vast majority is totally underground, – especially in the cities), where I saw 3 low-voltage wires on the pole along with a single phase pole transformer. I knew it was single phase because the ‘can’ had a certain ‘look’ to it. I know that only the larger homes in Britain are 3-phase since several ‘slice of life’ articles here have talked about hooking up a “Leaf” to the home’s 80 amp 2 wire service.

            Since only 2 wires go to the home, it must have been a 230/460 connection, the same was as many homes where I Live (Buffalo) used to only have 2 wire 115, but there was 230 on the pole unbeknownst to the homeowner. Obviously the Leaf 80 amp home could be fed by a 2 of 3 (single phase) or 2 of 4 (three phase distribution)

            Of course in a more congested area, or for large houses or commercial properties, 230Y/400 would be the norm, with 4 wires.

            But the point is, I’m sure I’m not the first person in 100 years who has seen that if you have a subdivision of hundreds of smaller homes that are ONLY going to require 230 volt 2 wire services, that 230/460 volt single phase equipment layout is by far the most economical system to feed this since there is only one medium voltage wire to be insulated/fused/lightning arrested/switched.

            It is much too economic/ (some would say ‘elegant’) a system not to be used where you can get away with it.

            I can’t speak for other countries, since I haven’t seen in detail what they have. But a photo is sometimes worth a thousand words.

            1. ggpa says:

              “Since only 2 wires go to the home, it must have been a 230/460 connection”

              Not really. The two wires were probably Live (230V) and Neutral. Just like we wire 120/208 in the USA.

              You claim “if you have a subdivision of hundreds of smaller homes that are ONLY going to require 230 volt 2 wire services, that 230/460 volt single phase equipment layout is by far the most economical system”.

              Perhaps we should wait for somebody from that part of the world weigh in, but my vote for cheapest would be for 3-phase medium voltage to the town, then delta-wye step down transformers, single phase to each home.

          2. Bill Howland says:

            For what it’s worth: I just now checked Wikipedia under “Split-Phase”
            and they say ‘europe – 230/460 volts’
            and also say it is used in England, Aus, and NZ.

            The takeaway as I’ve stated, is that it is so obviously cheap a system to use, that the surprizing thing is why dont the OTHER countries around the world use it?

            In North America, Single – Phase distribution systems are much more commonplace, given their low-cost, even though they’re cobbled by the relatively low voltage (240). Since UK, Aus, and NZ can use 480 to provide the evenly spaced 240 volt loads, and use 1/4 of the wire, OR 1/4 of the transformers, it makes even more sense. Anyway, that’s the confirmation, at least per WIkipedia.

            1. ggpa says:

              Bill, thanks for mentioning wikipedia. Sadly I think you read wrong about Europe, where the most common is 230/400V. And all the other things you mention are rare and rural use.

              I somehow recall UK being 240V, rather than 230V, but still 50Hz of course, so it does not matter much.

              1. bill howland says:

                1). I explained exactly why it is cheaper.
                2). Any cursory equipment catalog (Square-D digest, Eaton Speedfax, etc) can be perused to find equipment prices.
                3). Installation is MUCH easier.
                4). It has been used forever in the states (there is no utility 3-phase within a mile of my house precisely because it isn’t needed, and the way they did it 60 years ago was the cheapest), and it is occasionally used, per Wiki, in the UK, AUS, and NZ.

                There’s even more savings – Revenue metering can be single stator ($15) vs 2 1/2 stator ($86), meter sockets can be cheaper, etc. Transformers of the same KVA capacity are simpler and cheaper – on and on.

                If you were in the business, it would be obvious which one is cheapest. And the method that gets the job done efficiently for the least capital and complication is the one that is used.

                Some utilities even charge LESS for 1-phase service than for 3. Ever wonder why?

                1. ggpa says:

                  Bill – remember this conversation is about the UK, not the US.

                  I suggest you download and read http://www.cengagebrain.co.uk/content/9781408074121.pdf, and pay special attention to Fig 1.16

                  No apology needed 😉

                  1. bill howland says:

                    You’re not getting an apology since you’re the one who came up with the , frankly, excuse me, LOONEY idea that single phase distribution is always ‘very expensive’.

                    You haven’t remotely begun to even support your supposition, you’re just hoping I forget you made it.

                    You took an innocent comment I made in my first post – and first said that it couldn’t exist, when I’ve proven it exists in parts of the UK, AUS, and New Zealand.

                    Now you’re taking a British instruction book, which lays out the ‘general case’, – not the way it is in absolutely every single distribution system in the entire country.

                    I’ve PROVEN that a so-called split-phase system is cheaper IF the loads do not require 3-phase, but now you’re deflecting again. It shows me you don’t understand how to evaluate systems.

                    Your exercise isn’t a total loss, as I have learned that ‘earthing’ between the 2 countries’ systems is different, and requires more wiring in the British system. This isn’t a criticism, it is just a difference, and it is slightly more robust than the North American system, probably occurring since the shock hazard is much higher, and therefore unfailing earthing systems are much more vitally important in Britain.

                    1. ggpa says:

                      Bill

                      What is used in general, is generally the cheapest and most useful. Sadly your bias prevented you from seeing it.

                      You are behaving like an idiot with a sore ego. Why on earth would anyone melt down on a blog like this, over and over again? Your small minded response will live on here forever for all to see.

                      You PROVED nothing. You made a bunch of unsubstantiated claims, which illuminated your biased, narrow, uninformed outlook. Nothing else.

                      Three phase distribution is easier to manage because it is better balanced and more scalable than your idea. Their approach needs fewer & larger distribution transformers, which averages the loads better etc.

                      You should get a grip on your ego, and get it back to the proper size. Just like the reports about Amber Rudd, you like to THINK you know everything.

                    2. bill howland says:

                      You’ve just proven you’re one of the few stupid clowns on here, which is a disservice to those of us on here who are intelligent.

                      Go argue with someone else.

                    3. ggpa says:

                      Go read up the definition of “intelligent”, and wonder how that applies to your comments with their contradictions and distortions.

                      Or maybe you think “intelligent” means close minded with a bad attitude.

                      LOL

                    4. bill howland says:

                      Nope I don’t argue points with clowns because there is no point. I’m here to confer with others about EV’s, in hopes that I’ll learn something from others. I even learned something from your link, (unrelated to your point though it might have been as I stated).

                      But the only thing that makes clowns go away is to give them a relatively easy problem to solve. I’m not here to discuss things with you personally.

                    5. ggpa says:

                      Bill

                      You talked yourself into a hole. It is time to stop doubling down! The reality is that you are wrong on the facts, so you call me names, which is so juvenile. Really!!. It is NOT a constructive attitude for a public forum like this.

                      You are wrong on so many facts, it is hard to count them, but Fig 1.19 is another learning opportunity for you.

                      Even though your pride forces you to lie (e.g. your sentence containing “unrelated to your point though”), I can remind you that the first sentence of my first response just happens to have turned out 100% correct “I thought Britain used 3-phase distribution 240/415”. Or did you fail to pick up on that point?

                      I again urge you adjust your ego and also ask yourself
                      – how much better would it be if you actually approached insideevs.com as a place where you can learn from others and also help others?
                      – have you forgotten the golden rule? Or do you want me to sink down to your level and say “No, you are the clown!”.
                      – wouldn’t it be better to just let this thing go?

    2. M Hovis says:

      Merry Xmas Bill!

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Merry Christmas Mark!

        My 1850 watt tree is using up my solar credit, but it proves as I say that it is using as much juice as
        my 2 ev’s combined.

    3. antony says:

      Hi Bill, short answer is that we have several thousand price contracts from about 20 or more energy providers. It’s a standing joke here that every month energy companies create more contracts to confuse people. The best I can say is that prices for electricity and gas vary from 3 to 16 pence for 1kw and that standing charges also vary wildly from £50 to £180 per annum. There are some but not many contracts free of a standing charge, but expensive kw costs. Single phase is exclusively for domestic properties whilst dual phase is for commercial premises if they want it, but not guaranteed.
      The article about EV’s again a standing joke, the Sun newspaper, Murdoch owned and better for use as cat litter or lighting a fire than the content of it’s pages. Sadly has a high readership rating which should tell you a lot about the UK society….and why we end up with people like Rudd in power….

      1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        Let’s be a little clearer about this, this article is journalism creating a story. Sequence would have like this:
        Government wants lots of electric cars.
        Energy Secretary (whose background is finance at least, rather than being a lawyer like most other MPs) reacts instinctively like many people and wonders how a country with a growing population (due to immigration) that has some aging issues in generating capacity, and that has committed to replacing coal with NG, is going to handle the large increase in demand.
        Colleague (an MP, with an economics background, who is influential in policy for the governing party) who is already familiar with the issue explains it to the Energy Secretary.
        Yeah, you’d hope she’d have known about this already.

        “MP asks question to colleague” isn’t much of a story..

      2. Bill Howland says:

        THanks for responding Antony…

        It seems Europeans are far more familiar with what exists in the states, than vice-versa.

        So just to make sure I understand you, you pay 50 – 180 pounds per year just for the basic sevice? In comparison, my utility (British National GRID!!!) charges $18 per month just for a ‘billing charge’ or $216 / year – more like $230 when taxes are included. They claim it is $17 but it is actually $18.56.

        So you pay 0,03 to 0,16 (I don’t know if UK interchanges commas and decimal points as the rest of Europe does) pounds per kwh? Thats quite a range. What determines the difference?

        Your ‘contracted’ price on the high side, is the MINIMUM charge we pay – of course this varies by Utility company, and its of no surprise that British National Grid is amoungst the highest. The per KWH rate of $0,11 is better than NYC, Boston, or California.

        Are you also charged by the SIZE of your electrical service? Not so here in almost all cases. If so, that would be called here “Demand Contracted For”, which here only applies to very large users. We also have a ‘demand’ charge of from $8/kw/month to over $20 / kw (we’re about $10/kw here in Buffalo, NY) for commercial customers.

        Residential (‘domestic’?) customers USED to have strict limits as to what they could run- violators would be thrown off the cheaper residential rates and forced to take commercial rates, implying demand charges. But lately, residential rates have just risen to almose commercial levels, and restrictions lifted.

        SO those 19 kw dual-charger Teslas get a free-pass. Policy will ultimately be determined by a large number of them – but around my town we don’t have any Teslas of any kind (not since I’ve sold mine!, hehe) .

        1. Mark C says:

          In the basic service charge arena, my utility {3 years ago} charged a base rate {including various taxes} $20.24 per month “meter” fee. When I added solar, they required a second meter, so my base charge was increased to $40.48.

          As for EV’s overloading an electrical grid, I’m confident that any utility will wait until the provided electrical service is strained before adding expensive equipment & labor. I’m equally confident the same issue happened when air conditioning units started appearing in mass quantities.

          1. bill howland says:

            Well that kinda sucks… I assume you had to PAY someone an additional charge to install it, and provide a socket for it, although that might have been included in the contractor’s pricing.

            In NY State – the utility has the choice of either having their sole meter to the house have an additional ‘received’ register in addition to the normal ‘delivered’ one, or, as in my utility’s case they make the meter ‘spin-backwards’. At no extra charge.

            I on my own have to provide an additional ‘meter ($15.50) plus socket ($10), both of which I OWN outright. NYSERDA insists that I have one to monitor the solar panel output, of no concern to the utility. But they GAVE me $9120 ($1//watt))_ for it.

  4. RobSez says:

    Just more fear mongering by someone who doesn’t know anything about electric cars or their drivers. The disconcerting aspect of this is Ms Rudd should know better. If resources are indeed ‘stretched to their limit already’, why haven’t limitations on usage been proposed before now?

    1. Sting777 says:

      Ridiculous bull and fear, sells: Trump USA.

  5. The amount of energy a typical home uses in last few years has actually decreased … due to the switch to low-energy light bulbs (LED), more effluent appliances and LCD vs. tube TVs.

    The average daily vehicle use is 25-40 miles (40-64 km). This requires just 7-11 kWh per day (actually overnight) to charge an PEV.

    Where is the data on UK’s night-time energy usage and current grid capacity? Expect there is greater than a 2:1 ratio of capacity vs. current typical usage. It would require UK to have 100,000’s of PEVs before their load on the grid is 1% of the overall grid load. We’re talking a number of years before this will occur.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      The site http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ is a nice site using publicly available information.

  6. EVcarNut says:

    Bull Sh*t Baffles Brains …Repeat it Enough times & someone will believe it………Merry Christmas Everyone……..

  7. Brandon says:

    How about this to set things straight. This is in the US and I’m pretty sure I read that in the UK the percentage is quite close to 43%. 43%!!. Wow we have a long way to go til then.

    “”A conservative estimate is that we have an amount of electricity unused at night that’s equal to the output of 65 to 70 nuclear power plants between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) stated before the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee.

    “I suspect that’s probably our greatest unused resource in the United States. If we were to use that to plug in cars and trucks at night, we could electrify 43 percent of our cars and trucks without building one new power plant.””

    Link Goes To Torque News And Full Report on US Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn)Statement Entered Into Congressional Record, 05.19.2011-

    http://www.torquenews.com/397/senator-alexander-unused-electricity-our-greatest-national-resource

  8. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    What, electric utilities in the UK have suddenly lost the ability to plan for future growth?

    Energy Secretary Amber Rudd… I presume that’s an appointed position, not an elected one? She appears to be a perfect example of the Peter Principle: She has clearly been promoted to the level of her incompetence.

  9. chris says:

    Google her and you will realise the real extent 😉

  10. Just_Chris says:

    I think I can help those here who are confused by Amber Rudd’s comments, allow me to explain, the price of natural gas has crashed so Ms Rudd needs a new excuse to fast track the gas fracking of the north of England. Of course there will need to be a lot more gas turbines to use all that new gas. The conservative government is pro-gas with the North Sea empty they need a reason to start fracking, expect to see a lot of bs coming from the uk over the next few years. If you want to hear the voice of reason try and find stories by the nation grid who have modelled ev’s and their affect on the grid. They estimate there will need to be nothing done until 2 million ev’s are on the road. That is nothing => for 2 million. The NG are all over this issue there will be no blackouts or disruption caused by ev charging, even at 5 to 10 million vehicles.

  11. Someone out there says:

    All the more reason to implement a smarter grid. A smart grid will have a lot of benefits, it’s about time to go there now.

    1. Just_Chris says:

      I’d rather have smarter politicians, this woman is a f***, f***, f***ing liability.

  12. Just_Chris says:

    Just read the Sun article, they are suggesting there could be problems if 34 million zero emission vehicles were on uk roads by 2020. 34 million bev’s on uk roads by 2020? Wtf? You’d be lucky if there were 1 million bev’s on the roads in the uk by 2020. What a load of shhhhh… Er, shockingly bad reporting.

  13. Speculawyer says:

    Rupert Murdoch’s Tabloid rag fear-mongers against clean energy. Oh, how surprising.

    BTW, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd is a completely clueless hack politician that knows NOTHING about science & engineering.

    Why do conservatives insist on appointing completely clueless people to posts that really require knowledge of science & engineering? Obama appointed Nobel Laureate Steven Chu and MIT nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz. Donald Trump is considering appointing Sarah Palin to the job. *facepalm*

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      British government doesn’t work like the US government. You can’t just appointment anyone to a position to be a Minister or Secretary. They have to be an MP. The backdoor would be giving them a peerage so they’re a member of the House of Lords. They’d have to hire experts as special advisers.

  14. Get Real says:

    Between the Murdoch and the Koch-heads well-funded campaigns against all things environmental we are going to have to suffer many fools not gladly on this transition.