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UK grid ill prepared for EV power surge

UK Houses of Parliament

The UK’s power system is not sufficiently prepared for the strain that will be put upon it by the anticipated boom in electric vehicles purchases.

A new report by the Green Alliance, an independent think tank, forecasts a surge in EV purchases as they become cheaper. This will in turn cause electricity demand to surge as owners look to charge their vehicles at the same time.

The ensuing pressure on the grid could lead to brownouts, with damage to power lines and substations likely to prove extremely expensive.

The group claims that trying to piece together the 20th century power infrastructure in the UK with advanced 21st century technology in the shape of EVs is a “recipe for disaster”.

According to Green Alliance estimates, some GBP36 billion (US$46 billion) will be needed by 2050 to reinforce grid infrastructure to cope with the exponential growth in EV numbers on the UK’s roads.

The think tank said its study should indicate to the government the scale of the challenge at hand and encourage clearer thinking on how the grid should evolve to meet the needs of future generations. As well as grid development, off-grid solutions should be considered, such as battery-powered systems to support the grid at times of peak demand, or restrictions on the speed of charging to avoid imbalances in certain areas. These solutions are already being trialled in Texas and California, and should serve as examples to follow for Westminster.


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