Britain’s Electric Grid Unprepared For Increase In EV Sales

The British government is slowing withdrawing support for diesel vehicles in favor of greener options such as plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

This should help curtail pollution but a new report suggests the country’s electrical grid is ill-prepared for a major increase in demand.

According to a report published by the independent Green Alliance, the growing number of alternative energy vehicles could push the electrical grid to the “tipping point.”

The Green Alliance cites a study on the impact of electric vehicle usage that reveals when nearly 33 percent of households own an electric vehicle, the electrical grid could be plagued with voltage imbalances and overloaded transformers that may “severely impair power lines.” Unfortunately, that is not a worst case scenario as the study assumed an even distribution of EVs across the country.

Instead, the Green Alliance believes electric vehicle owners will initially be clustered in more affluent parts of the country. If this occurs, the 6,800 residents of Lightwater could be forced to deal with brownouts if just 900 of them decide to purchase an electric vehicle.

The case is even worse in certain parts of the country as modeling has shown “if as few as six closely congregated vehicles charge near a sensitive node at peak times, this may place more local demand than the system can handle.” The resulting brownout and blackouts could lead to damage of the all important distribution grid.

The alliance is urging government and industry to work together to develop smart and innovative solutions to deal with the problem as the Committee on Climate Change estimates that 37 percent of the UK’s vehicle fleet will consist of plug-in hybrid or electric vehicles by 2030. Unless something changes, the cost of coping with the increased electrical demand could require up to £36 ($46.1) billion in network upgrades by 2050.

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  • LeStori

    No free lunch. Someone has to pay.
    Typically the poorer sections of the community who will not be able to afford an electric or a hybrid car .
    They will be hit with higher electricity charges as punishment for being less well off.

    • Six_Tymes

      you are spot on, and its going to happen everywhere.

    • Silimarina

      1. I don’t see how this will effect the electric bill of people that can’t afford an electric car.
      2. it’s the job of electric companies to upgrade their own grid
      3. It’s not the fault of the wealthier peoples that: a) electric cars are not cheap enough; b) that electric companies didn’t upgrade their grid, despite the fact that they make hundreds of millions of $ profit each year.
      4. Stop being a whining loser that likes to blame wealthier people for his unsuccessful life.I have 0 respect for guys like you.

      • Christopher Sansom

        Electric companies will pass those costs onto the consumer. That is for sure

      • gary4205

        Where, exactly do you think the “electric companies” will get the nearly $50 BILLION needed to upgrade the entire nation’s grid?

        Brits already pay stupid money for gasoline, especially for an oil producing nation, so now they will bend over if they want electricity too.

        • Silimarina

          I whould like to know from where did you get that nr. (50 billion)

    • Martin Winlow

      If you think electricity prices are not going to go up (for everyone) then you are bonkers. HMG have recently signed off on Hinckley Point C and agreed to a base electricity price *three times* what it currently is. So, HMG are clearly anticipating a *big* rise in the cost of electricity on the next 20 years (the time it’ll take for HPC to come on-line). And bear in mind that the average price of natural gas has tripled in the last 20 years. The only way to limit the price rise is by making your own.

      Whilst I appreciate the poor will not be in a position to contribute due to the relatively high up-front cost and generally being renters rather than home owners (and therefore unable to ‘host’ someone else’s PV on their roofs – zero cost, free electricity), for everyone else PV and storage will mean a/ resilience from the grid b/ a firm commitment to doing something about climate change (assuming you believe in it) and c/ saving/earning money in the process.

  • Obsequious Lickspittle

    Everyone should just buy a petrol powered electric generator to charge up their EV….

    • gary4205

      Or one that runs on natural gas.

  • gary4205

    “Climate change” the greatest hoax in human history. Everyone pushing that scam belongs in prison for crimes against the human race.

    Now, if a handful of electric cars will crash the British powergrid, there are far larger issues at hand!

    • Status

      You know that ‘god’ is a massive hoax, right? Think of the people who should be imprisoned for that.

    • Silimarina

      And everyone disputing scientific fact, including climate change, should be dragged out and be beaten with a stupid stick and then thrown in to a prison for crimes against human intellect.
      Let me guess, you are a Steve Crowder and Alex Jones follower

  • Martin Winlow

    This is all complete twaddle. In the worst case scenario and if *all* ICE cars and taxis became EVs overnight, the grid would ‘only’ have to stump up an additional 10% of output. If you add all the commercial vehicles as well it would be about another 5% more.

    The maths is easy enough for anyone to do (even a journalist). Here’s how…

    Find out (google it!):-
    1/ Average mileage per car per day
    2/ Number of cars in the UK
    3/ Multiply the above by 365 for the yearly amount of miles
    4/ Divide 3/ by 4 to get the number of kWh additional annual energy use required (the average EV does about 4 miles to the kWh)
    5/ Compare 4/ with current yearly generation.

    Besides which, incentives are already there for people to charge at night when demand is at it’s lowest (ie the Economy7 tariff) and more can be done in this respect.

    However what is completely missing from this sensationalist, clap-trap, FAKE NEWS story is the fact that (eventually) having millions of EV’s batteries connected to the grid during the peak of demand (generally evenings when we all get home and plug in our EVs) will, in fact, act as a vast reservoir of energy which could (through the use of the next generation of ‘smart meters’) be tapped by the grid under stress.

    This, combined with cheap battery storage (coming to a Tesla showroom near you *now*) as well as advances in PV (solar energy – already the cheapest way to make electrical energy) mean that the distribution companies will not have to invest massively in grid infrastructure improvements (not any more than they would do anyway). PV generated energy can thus be stored locally and used locally saving the losses caused by transmission again reducing the stress on the grid.

    EV owners would, of course, be paid for their contribution (and it would only use a small fraction of the cars battery capacity each time this happens before someone whinges about ‘you’ll ruin the battery!” or something else equally silly and mis-informed).

    So there!

    BTW, if the UK spent the ~£25b we are going to spend on Hinckley Point C on PV and storage instead, we would be nigh-on 100% renewable and have the most resilient grid on the planet.

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