The UK has made ambitious targets to tackle air pollution, aiming for decarbonisation of the transport industry. With zero emissions at the tail pipe, electric vehicles (EVs) have the potential to provide the answer to this carbon conundrum. Yet with the exponential increase in EV uptake that is predicted, exponential growth in power demands will follow. And it all needs to be carbon neutral. With these targets being set, how will our National Grid cope? And what are the alternatives?
Currently the majority of EV charging relies on National Grid power. In order to increase EV uptake and meet demands, there is a need for more charging stations and faster charging. There are plans set out by the government for EV chargers to be put into all new homes and offices. Yet, the effects on power usage will be immense. It has been predicted that to accommodate the estimated 36 million EVs on the road by 2040, 10 new power stations will be needed. This has the potential to destabilise the National Grid, leading to potential power shortages. There is also the issue of higher costs, and difficulties in deploying to remote areas. Put simply, there are going to be more EVs and we currently don’t have the power to support this.
More EV charging on the grid will require an increase in renewable energy sources, if carbon neutral targets are to be met. Currently, 47% of grid power comes from carbon producing sources such as gas and coal. Using current power sources, more EVs on the roads will increase overall emissions. Instead, increased energy demand must be supplemented by zero emission power sources. Greater investment in renewables and alternative energy sources is necessary.
What are the alternatives?
Off-grid charging may provide an alternative that is more effective at tackling air pollution. Its use would relieve the pressure for demand from the National Grid. It might even be possible to feed excess green power into the grid, mitigating peak demands. If low emission methods are used, they would present a more environmentally friendly alternative to gas and diesel turbines, which are currently used in times of high demand.
Hydrogen fuelled charging could be used off-grid as a method of zero emissions energy production. It can be deployed anywhere, even in remote areas. It can also provide more stability and availability than other renewable energy sources.
To meet carbon footprint and EV uptake targets, we need greater investment in low cost, zero emission distributed power. We do not want to compromise the power in our homes and hospitals during energy surges. Therefore greater reliance on off-grid power, and renewable energy sources such as hydrogen fuelled charging, may provide the answer to a successful de-carbonised transport industry.
Source: Adam Bond, AFC Energy – Hydrogen fuelled off-grid charging can support the EV rollout