Volvo is betting big on the vehicles, but the UK needs to invest in infrastructure to truly bring electric cars into the mainstream.
With Volvo’s announcement that the company is turning to only electric and hybrid engines in its new models from 2019, the industry is taking stock of how the energy network could cope with an influx of electric cars.
The uptake of electric or partly electric cars is already increasing at an impressive rate. Last year the number of registered vehicles rose by more than 50%.
But that’s still only around 100,000 – out of around 30 million cars in the country.
Volvo has bet big that this will change fast.
Philip New from Energy Systems Catapult says in the short term our energy grid should cope, but there could be problems.
“The likely pace of growth is something that the system can absorb for the next few years,”
“The caveat there is that if there’s clustering where too many people in one street are trying to charge their electric cars at the same time, that could cause a problem for the low voltage network and cause localised blackouts.
“In the future, if we get to penetrations of electric cars that are in the 60, 70, 80% range of take-up, that becomes part of the overall transformation of the energy system that needs looking at.”
Nothing is unfixable, but it will cost money. For example, putting in a thicker or entirely new cable down a cul-de-sac where a lot of residents have electric cars could cost tens of thousands of pounds. The question is who will pay for that?
Other solutions could be to install smart systems either in cars or in homes that help coordinate the charging of vehicles around peak times in the day and night.
Read more: Sky News