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National Grid report says electric vehicles can play major role in low carbon future

Thu 12 July 2018 | Back to news list

A flexible UK electricity system will be able to meet an increase in peak demand for electricity of 8GW as millions of electric vehicles hit the roads over the coming decades, National Grid has said in its latest Future Energy Scenarios. Meanwhile a range of energy companies and leading trade associations, have presented a letter to the energy minister asking government to ensure that network companies are incentivised to procure flexibility rather than carry out network upgrades.
National Grid’s annual Future Energy Scenarios outlines different credible pathways for the future of energy for the next 30 years and beyond. National Grid expects electricity demand to grow significantly by 2050, driven by increased electrification of both transport and heating
FES 2018 says that up to 36 million electric vehicles could be on UK roads by 2040, which is twice as many as predicted just a year ago and a five-fold increase on 2015 predictions. 
Last year, however, the FES report estimated that rapid EV uptake could increase could peak electricity demand by another 8GW as soon as 2030 but later analysis of the impact of innovations such as battery storage, smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology  means that the same amount is likely to be needed only by 2040 . A boom in electric vehicles uptake will therefore help facilitate the UK’s shift towards a flexible and low carbon energy system by smoothing supply and demand. 
National Grid explains that the FES scenarios are not predictions, but they aim to be a catalyst for debate, decision making and change, and provide transparency to the wider industry. 
In a separate development, OVO Energy and Flexitricity, along with a range of other flexibility providers and leading trade associations, have presented a letter to the Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth Claire Perry, asking Government to ensure that network companies are incentivised to procure flexibility rather than carry out network upgrades.
The Flexibility First approach centres on six key principles:
1.  Flexibility services procured first: Network companies should be obligated to tackle network constraints by procuring flexibility services as a first measure, rather than by building expensive new network infrastructure.
2.  Targeting ‘whole-system’ outcomes : Rather than focussing on benefits to themselves, network companies should be incentivised to help us achieve our carbon reduction targets at the lowest possible costs for consumers.
3.  Rewarding grid utilisation : Network companies should be rewarded for making better use of the existing network, rather than building new infrastructure. 
4.  Facilitating renewable energy adoption: The cost and availability of new connections for renewable generators should become important output categories for network companies, given their central role in supporting renewable energy adoption.
5.  Promoting entrepreneurialism : Network companies should be able to make genuine financial gains and losses based on their performance on whole-system outcomes. 
6.  Continue to separate network operators from users: Ofgem has rightly established that network operators may not own and operate energy storage. 
By implementing these changes, the group says that Ofgem and the Government can play a major role in helping the transition to a smart, flexible energy system that will not only enable deep decarbonisation, but also create new jobs and businesses and save energy bill payers money. 
The Government's Road to Zero strategy announced the formation of an EV Energy Task Force, bringing together stakeholders from the energy, automotive and other engaged sectors with the aim of maximising the benefits and reducing the barriers to the EV transition. The LowCVP will be the convenor of the EV Energy Task Force.

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