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National Grid issues EV grid demand fact check after misreporting

National Grid has today moved to dispel various misconceptions over its projections for extra power demand triggered by an electric vehicle revolution in the UK.

Earlier this summer the UK government pledged to ban the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, promoting a wider switch to hybrid and pure electric vehicles.

That announcement coincidentally followed the publication of National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios (FES), within which the system operator established various scenarios of EV uptake and how they would impact on overall power demand.

But while National Grid had the best intentions for including such estimates, today’s ‘myth buster’ document argues that they have been “cited incorrectly and sometimes out of context” by national media outlets.

National Grid appears to have been particularly irked by a number of articles which claimed that it had said that a mass uptake of EVs would require as much as 30GW of new generating capacity. One report in particular went as far as to suggest that this would require “ten new nuke plants” to be built in the UK.

The SO has thus moved to stress that the FES document is not to be regarded as an accurate forecast, but a “set of four credible pathways” for electricity demand out to 2050. EV peak demand in those four scenarios ranged between 4 – 10GW, with the “best fit” scenario placed at around 5GW.

This, National Grid stressed, would equate to an 8% increase on today’s peak demand value and far from the “ten new nuke plants” some media outlets had claimed.

National Grid indicated that the 30GW figure appeared to have been spun out of a more extreme scenario included in the FES document for the first time, dubbed ‘High EV’, which was designed to be an outlier and was based on a number of outlying predictions, typically that conventional vehicle sales would have been stopped by 2025 and that society was prosperous enough to allow 85% of people to charge their vehicles at peak time.

Only if that scenario came to pass, and only by 2046, would peak EV demand reach the 30GW figure quoted in numerous articles.

National Grid also moved to distinguish between peak demand and the need to meet it with specific power sources. As nuclear plants offer constant output and cannot be easily constrained, they would not be ideally suited to deliver any prospective additional output to meet EV demand, in essence rubbishing the notion that “ten new nuke plants” would need to be built if the UK went all-EV.