By Paul Homewood
With suggestions that sales of conventional cars will be banned by 2030, attention is increasingly turning to how the electricity grid will be able to handle the increased demand from electric cars.
Sounding ever more desperate, the National Grid keeps trying to assure us that there will be no problem. But the facts suggest otherwise.
Last year as part of the Net Zero report, the Committee on Climate Change informed us that EVs and other surface transport would consume 76 TWh a year by 2050, in addition to current supply. Moreover, peak demand for EVs would be approximately 40 GW:
Evenly spread, 76 TWh would equate to an average load of 9 GW, but of course cars will not be charged so conveniently.
It is not unreasonable to assume that most will be on charge during the early evening, say 6pm to 10pm. I suspect most drivers will plug in as soon as they get home every night , regardless of power prices. That would imply peak load of 54 GW, so the CCC’s projection is a reasonable starting point.
Note as well that the CCC assume a reduction of 10% in car mileage, which I suspect is extremely optimistic.
Even if car charging could be shuffled to periods of low demand, this would only offset about 10 GW by utilising surplus capacity. Consequently during winter months, when demand is highest, EVs would necessitate an extra 30 GW of capacity, equivalent to ten Hinkley Points, or half of current UK capacity.
Add in extra demand for heating etc, and peak demand will rise from its current level of 50 GW to 150 GW:
The CCC’s solution to this extra demand is to build more wind and solar farms!
So it looks like you can forget about driving your car or heating your home when the wind stops blowing!
Then, of course, there is the issue of how the distribution can cope with the extra supply. Trebling of capacity would require significant, costly and disruptive network upgrades, as the CCC admit:
As much of the cost is “digging trenches”, as opposed to the “cost of cabling”, it obviously makes sense to oversize the networks now, rather than do piecemeal. But that also means that taxpayers will have to foot the whole bill over the next few years, rather than spreading it out over thirty years.
Furthermore, if petrol and diesels are banned from 2030, most of the upgrade will need to be carried out well before then.
Regardless of the cost, I would have thought the biggest obstacle is the sheer amount of work and disruption involved. Is it even feasible that such work can be done in such a short time scale?
For too long, decarbonisation targets have been presented as being sometime in the distant future, something that we the public don’t have to worry our little heads about. And also something that politicians don’t have to worry about, since it will be their successors in a generation’s time will have to deal with.
All of a sudden, that distant future is just around the corner!
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October 1, 2020 at 07:54AM