Electric cars could seriously damage the UK’s power grid, report warns

Last Updated: 20/04/2017

The UK's power grid is under-prepared for the increased uptake of electric vehicles, with a report claiming it could cause blackouts around the country in just a few years.

Ryan McElroy

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Britain’s power grid is under-prepared for the rapid uptake in electric and plug-in vehicles which could seriously damage the UK’s power grid, according to a new report

Independent think tank Green Alliance warns that as more people charge their vehicles using the grid, it could cause unexpected drops in voltage which could seriously damage electronic equipment. 

The report claims that as few as six electric vehicles charging within a close distance to each other, for example in a neighbourhood, could be enough to cause what’s known as a “brownout”.

 

Charging the battery pack of just one electric car requires a similar amount of energy to what a typical home will use in three days, and simultaneous demand as more people buy plug-in cars could damage electricity networks. 

Although there’s now an increased focus on getting people to invest in ‘smart chargers’, which can actively defer charging to off-peak times, the majority of electric car owners simply plug their cars in like any other appliance. 

The Green Alliance says that by 2025 up to 700,000 people around the country could suffer electricity blackouts if the grid is not updated to cope with increased demand.

Sales of electric cars in the UK increased by a full 56 per cent in 2016 compared to the previous year, and the think tank predicts that as costs fall the uptake of battery-powered vehicles will only become more rapid. 

However, it also predicts a similar uptake in the installation of solar panels, which earlier this year broke a new record by producing six times as much energy as the UK’s coal-fired power plants. 

The National Grid also welcomed the increase in solar power, which could reduce the strain on the country’s energy grid and also reliance on fossil fuels, but noted that work would have to be done to keep up.

A spokesman told the Guardian: “Growing use of solar power and electric cars will change the way the energy system is managed, but National Grid has been consistently dealing with evolution in the energy sector for decades, and these latest changes also present great opportunities. 

“For example, electric vehicles can be used to help feed energy back into the system at key times, while solar power will play a crucial role in providing clean energy as coal-generated power stops being used.”

Find out more about electric cars and whether one would be right for you by clicking here

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