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Is The UK Really Ready For An Electric Vehicle Rollout?

A report by Aurora Energy Research found that the number of EVs on the road in Great Britain could even rise from 140,000 last year to as many as 35 million by 2040. The same report revealed that up to three million C&I charging points could be required across Great Britain to support the mass roll-out of EVs by 2040. Given that there are now roughly 17k public charging points in Great Britain, there will be substantial infrastructure opportunities for commercial and industrial sites to support this transport evolution now and in coming years. While a study from Bloomberg New Energy Finance looking at the flexibility gaps in the future high-renewable energy systems for the UK found that EVs do not ‘break' the power generation system in a high-uptake renewables scenario, there will be significant impacts on the transmission and distribution network. Given that both lack of sufficient charging points and range anxiety can put consumers off purchasing an electric vehicle, manufacturers are working hard to combat this concern. For instance, Eaton recently announced it has developed compact power-dense automotive inverters capable of increasing the range of electric vehicles - maximising range while taking up minimal space in the vehicle

What measures can be taken to support current infrastructure?

Louis Shaffer, EMEA distributed energy management segment manager at Eaton:

“With the UK seeing an increasing shift towards the use of electric vehicles, there is no denying that the country needs to take steps to ensure that the energy supply is sufficient and optimised to support this growing demand and balance the grid. As the ‘Beyond the Tipping Point' research by BNEF shows, the relentless advance of solar and wind energy technologies is driving us inexorably towards an electricity system dominated by variable renewable power generation. By optimising energy storage and smart charging, the UK can accelerate the move to a renewables-led, flexible power system which can support this increased use of electric vehicles. This will only happen if energy markets are designed and regulated in a way that unlocks the full value of flexibility for the electric system.”

“To support current infrastructure, the government and industry will need to start investing in the technologies, services and modifications that can enable our energy system to cope with the dramatic shift in how we generate and use electricity. It's up to UK regulators and government to help foster the right environment and encourage businesses and commercial property owners to play their part.”What are the implications for the national grid?

Louis Shaffer, EMEA distributed energy management segment manager at Eaton:

“As more car manufacturers begin to produce electric vehicles, there is still one major issue to consider. The UK simply does not have the infrastructure in place to charge these vehicles yet. If we want more electric cars on the road, we need more charging stations. However, this creates another issue: if everyone switched to electric vehicles tomorrow and wanted to charge their cars during peak times, the UK's current grid infrastructure would struggle and may fail to cope with the sudden increase in demand.”

“To handle this increase in energy demand, changes must be made to provide new forms of flexibility. This means planning a national network of charging facilities - not just on roads but meeting high levels of consumer ‘away from home' EV charging demand with charging facilities at the workplace, in public car parks and at the supermarket. Besides commercial and industrial ‘smart' charging, technology such as energy storage and demand response will need to work alongside the growth of solar, wind and other green power sources to ensure the UK's shift to an affordable, flexible, renewables-led power system which can sufficiently support a major leap in energy demand.”

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