Over the past five years we have seen a dramatic increase in the sales and usage of Electric Vehicles (EVs) with governing bodies suggesting there could be over 500 million EVs in use word-wide by 2030. The UK has also brought forward its intentions of ending the sale of new combustion engine-powered cars and vans to 2035, which is set to spike the demand of Electric Vehicles. Yet, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders claim, out of the 149,279 cars sold in January 2020, only 4,054 were battery electric vehicles. This aside, the demand for the EV will soon peak and the true question is; Is the UK ready for it?
One of the largest challenges facing the adoption of the EV is ‘range anxiety.’ Although the average battery distance of an EV is now over 200 miles, many people are reluctant to make the move as they don’t ever want to feel stranded if they should run out of battery.
Another obstacle holding back many is posed by those without off-street parking and home charging. This is estimated to be around 40% of the UK who would not be able to access a charge point from home and would become reliant on having a charge point at work, or visiting their local motorway service station.
A recent Scottish Power report suggests there will need to be over 2.6 Million public charge points available by 2050 to be able to handle the charging demand. The National Grid have also highlighted 54 Motorway Services that could put 99% of Electrical Vehicle drivers within 50 miles of a charging point; surely driving a potential two-hour round trip isn’t ideal to top up your car!
With this said, our questions lay in our current electrical infrastructure and its capabilities to handle the amount of charging required.
The National Grid ‘Future Energy Scenarios’ Report forecasts annual electricity demand from road transport could increase from around 1 terawatt per hour (TWh) in 2020 to around 96 TWh in 2050. This is a huge increase in demand over a short period of time. Major schemes that can be employed to increase the grids capacity typically take 5 years to plan and deliver meaning it could be some time until your area sees the relevant changes.
Also, the National Grid is confident that the additional demand that EVs will bring can be met through ‘smart charging,’ which will help manage energy consumption. To do this, they plan to introduce incentivised, cheaper off-peak charging to try and help distribute the amount of power required throughout the day. Although this may work in theory, many users won’t have the benefit of being able to charge their EV during the day as they will be at work, which may not have EV charge points installed.
Charging your EV from home will also not be a quick process. The standard home charge using a 3.7kW charger can only produce 15 miles per hour, meaning if you were to charge from empty it could take up to 14 hours to hit over the average EV range of 202 miles. Whereas a rapid charger could achieve the same amount of charge in under an hour.
Ultimately, if the electrical infrastructure of the UK is not addressed now, you will be faced with two options. Either, driving to the nearest motorway service station to rapid-charge your EV which could be up to 50 miles away, or pay the premium to slow-charge your car at home which could take up to 14 hours.
We want to be clear in saying, we do believe Electrical Vehicles are the future of the country and the transport industry; we just want to ask if the country is actually ready for the switch? We believe there is a lot of work to be completed on the UKs electrical infrastructure to ensure the National Grid can cope with the demand EV home charging will bring to ensure the EV revolution can go ahead.