Report: Transition to EVs to result in extra 200TWh of electricity demand by 2030
The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) will likely result in "bottlenecks" across Europe's electricity grids by 2030 unless governments and electricity network operators incentivise managed charging, new research has concluded.
Published today (8 February) by professional services giant EY and electricity industry group Eurelectric, the report explores how the expected surge in EV uptake across Europe will impact grid demands through to 2035.
Between now and 2035, the report states, up to 125 million additional EVs will be added to Europe’s vehicle stock. Within the same timeframe, at least 65 million charging points will be installed, of which nine million will be publicly accessible – up from less than 400,000 at present.
While this will undeniably have a positive impact on tailpipe emissions and on air pollution, it will pose challenges for electricity grids. The report forecasts that EV charging could increase peak load by up to 90% in areas with high EV uptake. Even in the best-case scenario, peak load would be 21% higher in 2035 than today, due to EV charging, and annual electricity demand will have increased by up to 30% year-on-year each year.
The report argues the case for managing this challenge by implementing managed charging solutions and processes, thus turning the “liability” of charging EVs into an asset. It recommends that electricity distribution system operators (DSOs) invest in flexibility solutions for EVs.
Such solutions include smart grids that provide real-time information on demand and use machine learning to predict future needs; tariffs that reward drivers for charging at certain times and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies, which enable EVs that are plugged in to be used as batteries and discharge electricity to the grid when needed. Also floated is solar distributed generation co-located with solar, but the report acknowledges that this is a less mature demand-side solution.
These solutions can help to avoid challenges with grid reinforcement, including costs and disruption to local communities.
Crucially, the report acknowledges that DSOs cannot make these changes to the system alone. “The critical need to massively accelerate the deployment of charging infrastructure in line with EV adoption will require widespread collaboration between municipalities, local authorities, city planners, charge point operators, eMobility service providers, automakers and DSOs,” it states. “Working together, the road transport system designed today should serve everyone long into the future.”
The report also calls on these actors to address the fact that charging point installation has, to date, been “patchy”, with huge discrepancies in access between and within nations and regions. Recommendations for rectifying this picture include giving local authorities more funding and powers; simplifying rules on who pays for grid connections and confirming increased public funding for public chargers.
Eurelectric’s secretary-general Kristian Ruby said: “Europe is undergoing a turbo-charged shift towards eMobility. With EV numbers set to grow exponentially by 2035, we must ensure that the roll-out of charging infrastructure happens at a similar speed, while we continue to reinforce and modernise our grids.
“The task ahead will require a massive effort from all players, but I remain convinced that we will create a successful shift to a cleaner, greener and more exciting mobility paradigm in Europe.”
Last week, the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) released new data revealing that pure EVs and plug-in hybrids accounted for more than 71% of vehicle registrations in the UK in January. Across all of Europe for all of 2021, around one in five cars registered were electric.
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