Silent springs: the EV revolution gets into gear … (Creative Commons)

Massive rise in UK electricity demand predicted in next 30 years

27 July 2017 | By GCR Staff 1 Comment

The UK may experience a rapid rise in electricity consumption over the next 30 years as more vehicles and buildings switch from fossil fuels to electric power.

There are about 90,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on Britain’s roads in 2017, a figure that may grow to 9 million by 2030. The number of EVs seems certain to increase further in the run up to 2040, the point at which the UK’s current government has said the manufacture of petrol and diesel cars will end.

Meanwhile, it is possible that a legal requirement to improve air quality – which was behind the petrol and diesel ban – may also lead to an end to gas-fired furnaces for homes and buildings.

Powering Ahead, a report by Canadian consultant WSP, argues that a switch to electrically heated buildings would lead to a 40% reduction in emissions, a level similar to what would be achieved if all vehicles were to become electric by 2040.

The report points out that in Central London alone, 38% of nitrogen oxide emissions come from buildings using gas.

Barny Evans, WSP associate director for sustainable places, said: “It will take a long time to improve our cities’ air quality by converting to EVs. Alternatively we can phase out existing gas-heated buildings today and make all new buildings electric with no cost implication and significant health benefits.

“It’s not possible for everyone to go out and buy an electric car tomorrow, but we can mandate that all new buildings are only electric.”

Meanwhile, the National Grid has forecast that EVs may create an additional 8GW of demand for grid electricity by 2030, and as much as 18GW by 2050, making them responsible for almost a third of the entire UK energy consumption.

However, it added that these figures were maximum estimates, and that mechanisms such as smart charging – by which a car would be charged during the night – would be likely to ameliorate the effect of EVs on peak demand.  

Nevertheless, the forecast points to an increase in expenditure on the UK’s installed generating capacity, and on the infrastructure to supply the nation’s new cars.

The energy analyst Wood Mackenzie has estimated that if EVs account for a third of the new car market in 2030, they would require 400,000 charging points, to be built at a cost of £30bn.

The forecast may also provide ammunition for proponents of a new generation of nuclear power stations, and seems certain to provide impetus to wind and solar schemes around the UK.

Image: Silent springs: the EV revolution gets into gear … (Creative Commons)

Further Reading: