AN increase in electric car sales could result in local power cuts and energy networks need to prepare as consumer uptake increases, according to an independent think tank.
The Green Alliance says that providers are not prepared for the rising number of electric vehicles on the road, as well as the increasing number of solar panels and wind farms.
The report suggests that once 33 per cent of households have an electric vehicle, voltage imbalances could put a strain on power lines, leading to a drop in supply known as a ‘brownout’. And that’s assuming an even distribution of ownership – large clusters of EV owners would affect the grid more severely.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reported that in March 2017, pure electric vehicle sales were up 34.2 per cent compared to the same month last year.
To manage this extra demand, the Green Alliance suggests implementing smart technology to shift power to where it’s needed, which it estimates could save up to £10 billion over 40 years. However, if power usage remains unchecked, it could lead to ‘network upgrade costs of up to £36 billion between 2010 and 2050’.
As electric vehicles become more popular though, there are opportunities to use their batteries to power homes or sell electricity back to the grid.
Nissan’s ‘Vehicle to Home’ electricity supply system allows the batteries in its electric vehicles to supply energy to people’s homes. By leaving the car plugged into the owner’s home charger whenever it’s not in use, the car can charge itself during low-demand periods, or act as a generator to alleviate demand on the grid during peak periods.
In May last year, the Japanese manufacturer teamed up with power company Enel to test the technology in the UK.
Speaking at the time, Paul Wilcox, chairman of Nissan Europe, said: ‘Smart energy management is one of the biggest challenges any nation faces for the future, which is why this trial is so critical in assessing the feasibility of using variable, more flexible energy sources.
‘We see Nissan electric vehicles as being the mobile energy hubs of the future, pioneering a self-sustaining energy infrastructure that will help solve the
capacity issues of the future.’
What’s more, once owners replace the batteries in their electric cars, the Green Alliance suggests they can be recycled for use in ‘stationary applications’ to reduce the cost of existing battery storage by around 75 per cent.
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