Thought Leadership

8 September 2020

Is the grid ready for an EV influx?

It’s fair to say that the early adoption phase of EVs is well and truly over. 8.5 million EVs will be on the roads by the end of this year. A year which has seen Tesla become one of the best performing businesses on the stock market. Public perception of EVs has never been better and whilst it may only account for a fraction of the total vehicles market, the technology has been proven successful.

People aren’t surprised to see Tesla Model 3’s and Nissan Leaf’s fill the streets in cities like Amsterdam, Oslo and Los Angeles. As Peter Valent (Sales Manager at Everon) mentioned: with EV’s, we’re now slowly moving to the point known as “crossing the chasm”. The point when adoption of new technology moves from “Early Adopters” to the “Early Majority”. This creates a whole new playground full of challenges and opportunities when looking at it from an EV charging infrastructure perspective.

A top priority for scale is infrastructure and whilst public perception of the EV network is poor, those within the market can see its potential. “EV Infrastructure was seen as a hurdle in 2010, whereas now in 2020 we see it as an opportunity”– Colin McKerracher, Head of Advanced Transport Bloomberg NEF. Electricity is more Accessible than gas and an EV grid connection already exists, it just needs adaptation.

Are the grids around the world ready?

Here are a variety of opinions from experts around the world who discuss the readiness of the grid with regards to an EV increase.

USA

“There needs to be a new mindset, bold solutions, and even a sense of urgency around creating next-generation transmission infrastructure to keep pace with the growth of EVs and the other emerging demands of society.”

Simon Whitelocke, President of ITC Michigan.

Canada

“A Level 2 charger draws about the same power as a home. So, if every home had EVs and all were charging simultaneously, then we would need to assess the location and the area impact to see if upgrades are required to the local infrastructure”.

Tori Gass, Spokesperson, Toronto Hydro.

United Kingdom

“When it comes to the capacity of the wires required to deliver that power to the nation’s EV charging points, National Grid’s transmission system is ever-evolving and suitably robust to cope with the forecast uptake in EV”.

Graeme Cooper, National Grid’s Project Director.

Germany

“Everything will be fine — as long as appropriate grid upgrades are made in time" For Germany as a whole, we've estimated a cost of €20 billion [$21.9 billion] to €25 billion for the upgrades needed".

Oliver Brückl of the East Bavarian TechnicalUniversity in Regensburg.

Can’t see your region? Let us know if you think your grid is ready?

Whilst the general consensus is that many grids have capacity and potential, the caveat is clear, consistent investment is crucial. This is a concern when you consider that only 14% of utility companies have made grid or substation upgrades. To maintain a good service, intelligent management is essential. Many areas around the world still face electricity blackouts. California, home to Tesla, suffers from such a problem, will EVs make this worse?

On a global level the issue could multiply as many governments turn to electric solutions to improve their renewable energy goals. Take Germany for example, oil fire heating systems will be banned by 2026, or The Netherlands where gas stoves will be phased out by 2040. The EV influx could be a blessing and a curse for these changes, technology such as V2G or V2H could be the storage solution of our future but the investment is needed.

2020 has delivered many challenges on a global scale but e-mobility has been a beacon of hope. The electrification of transport is growing, and the opportunity to participate on an EV network level has never been more important. Could your business be part of the change?

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This article is part of larger paper that explores the impact of EV adoption for utilities. If you want to learn more about this growing industry just hit the download button.

Overview:

  • Challenges

  • Opportunities

  • The role of utility businesses within the e-mobility

  • What does it take to lead the market?

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