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Can the electricity grid cope with charging electric vehicles?

There’s been much talk in the media about whether the UK’s electricity grid can cope with increasing numbers of electric vehicles, and the different views primarily stem from whether this is looked at from a national or a local perspective.

In terms of the national picture, primarily because of different people using electricity at different times around the UK, the industry believes that there shouldn’t be a huge problem.

The challenge is at a local level, when a large number of people on one street – or more specifically on one substation feeder – all plug in their EVs at peak time. Because adding an EV is equivalent to adding an extra house, this could result in too much demand on the local electricity network.

In an ideal world, all local electricity networks would be upgraded to cope with the possibility of lots of electric vehicles. However that would result in huge cost and disruption.

However there are a range of other solutions to this issue, including smart charging (the time when an EV is charged can be managed to avoid all EVs charging at peak times); vehicle to grid (V2G) charging (energy can be taken out of an EV’s battery and put back into the grid at peak times if required); and battery storage (electricity from eg. off-peak renewable energy such as solar or wind can be stored in the battery and used at peak times to reduce the demand on the grid).

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