Can the UK National grid cope with Electric cars? What if there’s a huge increase in the number of electric vehicles being plugged in for charging!
There are two aspects to whether we have the capacity to manage lots of EVs being plugged in at once – whether we have enough energy and then whether we have sufficient capacity on the wires that carry that energy to where it’s needed.
Enough capacity exists
Even if the impossible happened and we all switched to EVs overnight, we think demand would only increase by around 10 per cent. So we’d still be using less power as a nation than we did in 2002 and this is well within the range of manageable load fluctuation.National Grid 2020 – 6 myths about electric vehicles busted
How we’ll balance the grid so that it can cope with 31.3 million electric cars on the UK’s roads.
‘When’ matters, not just ‘how much’
The traditional evening peak of electricity demand is between 6 and 8pm, and this might well coincide with people returning from their commute and plugging in their cars. If we want to provide sufficient infrastructure and energy for EVs as cheaply as possible for consumers, we ideally don’t want to add to that evening peak and need to spread that demand better.National Grid 2020 – 6 myths about electric vehicles busted
Electricity companies are now starting to offer, not only, cheaper night rates, but also half-hourly pricing. Sometimes, generally during the night, this can be incredibly cheap and occasionally even free!
Electric cars can be set to charge at certain times, especially avoiding the evening high demand, and if ‘smart’, can even vary their times based on the price.
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Electric Vehicles are not considered to be a problem by National Grid, in fact some nights those charging are actually paid to take the electricity from the grid, known as Negative pricing. This situation occurs when Wind Turbines produce too much electricity. It costs the Grid less to pay the consumer to use the power than to cut-off the Wind Turbine. Pricing is much cheaper during the early hours of the morning for those on half-hour tariffs.
Local distribution networks will need to be modernised, Smart chargers are a part of this modernisation.
Vehicle to Grid (V2G) would be of significant value to the Grid, particularly by a fleet of lorries or buses garaged overnight.
Octopus Electric Vehicles are researching V2G in practice with its Powerloop programme, providing a package with all necessary equipment, a car to work with it and electricity from Octopus Energy.
The CrowdFlex study will investigate the potential for flexibility from electric vehicles (EVs), heat pumps and batteries in the over 25,000 homes across Britain.
The analysis will look at how those usage patterns change in response to price signals from Octopus Energy’s smart tariffs and direct instructions from Ohme’s smart electric vehicle chargers and mobile app.25,000 home flexibility study launched in GB – Smart Energy International – July 2021