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Home/The e-mobility revolution: impact of electric vehicles on the GB power system and emerging utility business models

The e-mobility revolution: impact of electric vehicles on the GB power system and emerging utility business models

Personal mobility in the 20th century was dominated by the mass-rollout of the Internal Combustion Engine. This looks sets to change in the 21st century with the growth of electric vehicles – driven by the falling cost of batteries, combined with significant policy support in the form of emissions standards, grants, and tax breaks.

At the same time, vehicle sharing, connected and autonomous vehicle technologies will reshape how mobility is delivered to end consumers. The question is when, not if, these technologies will become widespread.

The growth in electric vehicles could have significant impacts on the power system in the coming years. The electrification of transport will increase overall demand for power, but it is the timing of this demand that really matters. Unmanaged charging would lead to a significant increase in peak demand – with significant investment required in power network reinforcement, as well as additional peak generation capacity. However, if charging is smart and optimised then this peak demand problem can be mitigated. Indeed, if charging becomes highly flexible then this could flatten the daily demand pattern by increasing off-peak demand, benefitting baseload assets and intermittent renewables.

In this study, we examine the likely impacts of the growth in electric vehicles on the GB power market, and address the following questions:

  • How and when will the market penetration of electric vehicles increase, and what does this mean in terms of additional power demand?
  • What is the current charging profile for electric vehicles, and how might this change in the future?
  • What impact could EV charging have on demand shape and peak demand?
  • What are the market and system implications of EV charging, and how does this differ is charging is ‘smart’ or ‘dumb’?
  • Which market participants stand to gain or lose? How does this affect the requirement for flexible power capacity?

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