Electric Vehicles Could Increase Peak Demand By 3.5 GW In UK By 2030


Plug-in electric cars in UK (Go Ultra Low)

The UK’s National Grid released a report about a possible peak electricity demand increase brought about by an expanding plug-in electric vehicle fleet.

National Grid – Future Energy Scenarios (2017)

The main insight is that if the growth continues, and plug-in share will exceed 90% of all cars by 2050, peak demand will increased by 18 GW, from a level currently less than 60 GW.

By 2030 the additional peak demand would increase by some 8 GW, but smart charging could limit such a big increase down to a more manageable 3.5 GW.

Another factor that could change the numbers in the future is shared autonomous cars.

Marcus Stewart, head of energy insights at National Grid said:

“The scenarios are not predictions but they aim to be a catalyst for debate, decision making and change, and provide transparency to the wider industry.”

It seems that utilities around the world are aware that renewable energy sources, energy storage systems and also electric cars will be pretty disruptive for their businesses, and are not at least trying to imagine what that future landscape might look like.

Electricity demand has the potential to increase significantly and the shape of demand will also change. This is driven initially by electric vehicles and later on by heat demand. It will require a range of solutions to deliver the best value for consumers, including a coordinated approach across the whole system; investment in smart technologies, transmission and distribution infrastructure; and commercial approaches such as consumer behaviour change.

  • Electricity peak demand could be as high as 85 GW in 2050, compared to around 60 GW today, driven by a number of factors. Electric vehicles are projected to reach around one million by the early 2020s, and there could be as many as nine million by 2030. Without smart charging, this could result in an additional 8 GW of demand at peak times. Heat pump demand may also add to this.
  • If weather patterns continue to change, air conditioning could raise peak demand in summer to a similar level to winter towards the end of the scenario period.
  • Away from peak demand periods the increase in distributed generation, in particular solar, could lead to periods of very low demand on the transmission system.

Report: National Grid – Future Energy Scenarios (2017)

Source: Reuters

Category: General


31 responses to "Electric Vehicles Could Increase Peak Demand By 3.5 GW In UK By 2030"
  1. pjwood1 says:

    First para, you may mean 60 MW (not GW), and “now at least”, vs, “not at least” in the middle.

    1. Doggydogworld says:

      60 MW? That’s peak load for a single town.

      1. pjwood1 says:

        I read the sentence as current peak demand, by electric cars. A 60GW “system” peak sounds reasonable, but I’m not sure many reading this are making the the distinction.

    2. John Norris says:

      Current UK demand (18:00 GMT) is approx 50 MW.
      (http://www.mygridgb.co.uk/dashboard/ for latest)

      1. islandboy says:

        I use http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ and according to the demand chart on that page, the maximum demand was pretty close to 50GW between 6:00 and 7:00 pm (about an hour ago as of the time of this post). The minimum demand overnight was about 30 GW between 10:00 pm. and 6:00 am. so the difference there is about 20 GW.

        The national grid should be salivating at the prospect of having an extra 18 GW of demand that, if managed properly could increase the demand during the off peak hours in the middle of the night. Looks like the demand resulting from EV charging will be a non-issue!

        1. krona2k says:

          The National Grid have published quite a few pro-EV papers.

          They definitely seem to be debunking the rumor that EVs are going to be a problem for the grid.

  2. Someone out there says:

    By 2030 the grid will be very different from today. Prices are dropping for battery storage so there will be a lot of it by then. It’s likely that this will shift the grid usage pattern significantly and peak demand may very well be lower than today. A smarter grid and distributed generation, especially rooftop PV by large consumers, changes everything.

    1. mx says:

      Yes, grid usage pattern’s should easily shift with a night time charging discount. — Economics.

      Also, by 2030, home battery storage could also be economic.

  3. Get Real says:

    And Tesla is a leader in this rapidly emerging market of solar + storage and microgrids/smarter grids.

  4. Tom says:

    The Germans are making a monumental mistake of shutting down nuclear reactors. I get not building more, but their ‘let’s shut these down and keep using coal’ is completely senseless. It is especially senseless in the light of what looks like EVs taking off in 2018 in Germany.

    US=same thing only not as bad.

    1. randomhuman says:

      Coal power stations are next. Our government is just a little bit slow on the decision to shut all of them down till maybe 2030 or 2035. it’s more then enough time to build more residential solar and commercial solar with batteries that will create huge virtual power plants. In 10 years everything will look different. I mean just look 10 years back. There were almost no renewables or a very small amount of them. Even today many coal power stations are already not really profitable anymore, so they will most likely vanish because of the market. But I would’ve found it better to shut down coal first and after that nuclear. Still nuclear power has no future. It’s dangerous and it creates dangerous waste and we don’t know where we should put that waste. So nuclear is no solution.

      1. Tom says:

        Virtually all the waste risk has already been produced for existing reactors. It’s straight up ignorant to shut them down before they burned out existing loaded fuel. They posed very close to zero operational risk given the geology and weather of Germany. It’s also political weak mindedness on the part of Angela Merkel. It’s a straight up ‘make Germany great again’ nod to German coal miners. Period. It is intellectually indefensible based on scientific facts not the ignorant frightened opinions of the masses.

    2. John Doe says:

      Germany is a leader in wind and solar power.
      Coal will die off, due to CO2 tax soon enough.
      Nuclear power can not compete with solar and wind, when it comes to cost. Super expensive to build, and crisis if they fail.
      Maybe thorium reactors will be safer. I know that they have developed thorium fuel rods in Norway, and have been testing them in the test reactors in Kjeller in Norway.

    3. jimjfox says:

      German political/economic policy is a complete shambles. Merkel’s solution- “Lets have MILLIONS more 3rd world ‘immigrants’ “

  5. Priusmaniac says:

    It seems strange to have only 60 GW peak power in the UK since Belgium has more than 13 GW peak. There are 11 million people in Belgium and 65 million in the UK, so it should be significantly more in the UK (about 75 GW).

    1. Modeller says:

      Most UK homes use gas for heating. Reduces electricity demand massively

      1. Priusmaniac says:

        House heating system is still mainly gas or burning based too but there could be a difference on cooking with gas in the UK and essentially with vitro ceramic or induction in Belgium, although even that is not really different in the UK, or is it?

  6. philip d says:

    Egypt will be finishing a 1.6 – 2 GW solar park in 2019. That one park would cover most of the UK’s needs by 2030. Not a big problem.

    They have 12 years to build more solar and wind and beef up infrastructure. It will pay for itself by simply having more customers paying for said electricity. I would think the power companies would be thrilled.

    1. John Doe says:

      Since it is the UK, I would go for wind (as they do) ?. It’s like the western part of Norway, when it comes to rain.
      Maybe install tiny hydro generators, that can collect and use all the rain to generate electricity ?.

      Their massive wind power plans will cover their rising electricity need with ease.
      They have the largest offshore windpark in the world?

    2. Mikael says:

      No, that would not cover barely any of the peak in the UK.

      Solar only works when the sun shines and even then the difference between nameplate capacity and actual generation is high, especially in the UK.

  7. SparkEV says:

    Such negativity! The way I see it, EVs offer an opportunity to smooth out the demand by up to 3.5 GW by offering deals to those who leave their EV plugged in and charging managed by the power company. Grid benefits from smoother power, EV drivers benefit from lower cost (hopefully), win-win for everyone.

    1. AlanSqB says:

      I believe V2G is an artifact of the days when batteries were much more expensive.

      As the cost of batteries keeps dropping, the cost of building in the tech and infrastructure to support V2G would end up being more expensive than just throwing in some dedicated batteries like a power wall.

      So, my personal opinion is that V2G will never go mainstream. I think that’s why it’s no longer being discussed by most of the EV mfrs.

    2. AlanSqB says:

      Sorry, as I read your comment again, you probably just mean controlling the charging demand (I.e. how air conditioning power management works with some power companies being able to shut off your AC at peak times). Not necessarily V2G.

      In that case, I fully agree! As our devices get smarter, our stuff can actually work with the pier company to smooth out demand without us ever having to worry about it. Nest is already doing this with their thermostats and I’m sure there are more examples.

      1. SparkEV says:

        Yes, I’m not talking about V2G. V2G makes no sense IMO. Grid would have to pay tons of money to people to convince them that they’ll degrade the battery. It might be cheaper for grid operators to just buy the batteries themselves than deal with the hassle.

        But demand control absolutely makes sense. There’s really no negative.

        For distributed battery, I can imagine some DCFC having batteries to smooth out the power as well as offering faster charging. That’ll also help in smoothing power.

        Basically, EVs present lots of positive opportunities to make the grid better.

  8. Bill Howland says:

    Right – V2G to me makes absolutely no sense (other than in desperation) as it triples the losses of the car’s electronics/battery system.

    This study is somewhat suspect coming from “National Grid”, the private company handling the UK’s long-distance transmission faci`lities and some of the North East’s distribution and end sales (as a for instance, its the Utility I have to suffer along with also).

    In my own neighborhood, the electricity supply to my personal home is the WORST I have ever seen anywhere in the states, due to 5 idiotic changes they made (by obvious incompetants) over the past 50 years.

    Instead of just ‘backing out’ the idiotic changes (could be done at very minimal cost), they have instead convinced regulators they need to do a ‘Voltage Migration’ (Idiotic in view of the DECREASING residential electric load as time goes on, in view of all the CFL’s and LED’s people use now that they have banned light bulbs – and also the fact that central air conditioners in my area typically use around 2/3 rds of the juice historically needed), where they basically have to ‘re-invent the wheel’ everything from the substation on, as the existing voltage setup has to be maintained until the switch. This kind of thing company wide is why they are bucking for an additional 11% RATE increase.

    Doesn’t seem reasonable to me that even extremely high ev penetration would cause that much increased peak demand, seeing as most (90%) charging SHOULD transpire over low ‘after-midnight’ time periods.

    I don’t buy my Methane (Natural Gas) from NG and I’m glad I don’t. Not only do they charge more than my gas utility, they also charge a ridiculous $21/ month ‘meter reading charge’ when a car drives down the street and picks up 300 readings lickety-split.

    While this article I’m sure was intended as an Objective futuristic project from an impecable source, I’m sure its really just NG bucking for a rate increase – the only thing they excell at.

    1. PHEVfan says:

      “Doesn’t seem reasonable to me that even extremely high ev penetration would cause that much increased peak demand, seeing as most (90%) charging SHOULD transpire over low ‘after-midnight’ time periods.”

      That would be true for many EVs, but looking at the chargers at my work, there are many who charge during the afternoon “high demand” times. This is either because they have a commute longer than their batteries can handle (often the PHEVs) or they are using “JIT” charging to keep from having their batteries full all day long (bad for cycle life).

  9. Someone out there says:

    In a future with much improved batteries V2G may absolutely make good sense. With today’s cells that can do 500-1000 full cycles, not so much but if a future battery can do 5000-10000 cycles without problems then yes V2G is fully viable.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Yes in the “Future” you can say anything you want, since ‘it ain’t here yet’.

      If the ESR=0, and the electronics are lossless, then yes, it does make sense.

      That however is no where near today’s reality.

      Discussion of the subject though, puts the idea in people’s mind that EV charging is necessarily a hard load to satisfy.

      Which is exactly what ev haters like Johann DeNysschen want people to think.

      Why do you think VW Group holds the world record for the number of pricey, borderline ridiculous concept-evs?

      Its to put in the minds of the average German that the technology is not ready for general release, and only rich ‘tinkerers’ would ever find them satisfactory.

      Now Daimler is getting into the act with ridiculous, $million Joke-Concept cars.

      They must think, “Hey, if it works for VW, why not?”

  10. Just_Chris says:

    So let me get this striaght by 2030 the peak may have increased by 13% and by 30% in 2050. 1% per year? I am trying to see why people are worried about this. Especially since that peak will be unlikely to coinside with the normal daily peak. There is no problem with a gradual increases in electricity consumption. Especially since electric vehicles can be a controlled load.

  11. trackdaze says:

    I assume they have subtracted the 6kwh per gallon of gas that wont need to be refined.

    1. CanH says:

      I highly doubt that, and THAT is the most important thing to take into account…

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