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EV Power Scenarios

August 1, 2017

By Paul Homewood






There has been a lot of debate about the additional electricity demands which electric cars will impose on the grid.

A figure of an extra 30GW has been widely reported, but this is reckoned to be the maximum likely. The Telegraph printed this letter on Sunday from Richard Black’s global warming propaganda unit, the ECIU:



SIR – Gordon Rayner and Steven Swinford are prudent to outline some of the challenges facing all nations as the electric vehicle revolution takes hold, but claims that peak electricity demand will jump by 50 per cent and that we will need to build 10,000 new wind turbines are  wide of the mark. These figures represent National Grid scenarios which are exceedingly unlikely to come to fruition, and should not be used to discourage change that will be driven by the market as much as by government policy.

Other forecasts show that the increase in peak demand could be less than 10 per cent – a figure that is more than capable of being managed by a burgeoning British technology sector. The benefits that 26 million electric vehicle batteries could offer the UK grid are also startling, increasing the democratisation of energy supply and allowing homes up and down the country to take back control of their energy bills.

Dr Jonathan Marshall
Energy Analyst, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit
London SE1



This letter is even more misleading than the claims of 30GW.

So let’s start from scratch. The chart at the top, from the National Grid’s latest Future Energy Scenarios (FES), shows that the “10%” figure claimed by Marshall is based around the highly optimistic “Two Degrees” scenario.

In particular, it assumes that drivers will only charge cars at off peak.

Yet as another recent National Grid study found, this is not a realistic option. Millions of cars have no access to off road parking, and many that do have no garage access. For these owners, overnight charging is not practical.

For these, the only logical option is to use public charging stations. This will inevitably put huge extra demand onto periods, such as early evening, when demand already peaks.

Readers may recall that the FES contained four scenarios, and it is the “Consumer Power” one which best fits this behaviour:






Under this scenario, peak demand increases by 17.7GW in 2050, an increase of about 28% on current demand, and a lot more than the ECIU’s claim.

But there is another scenario that is hidden away, called “High Electric Vehicles”







This, rather presciently, is pretty much what the government is now proposing.

But to backtrack, this is what the FES says about the number of cars on the road for the first four scenarios:




Note that under the Two Degree scenario, the number of cars drops sharply from current levels.

Also under the Consumer Power option, there are still nearly 10 million non EVs on the road in 2050. The government has already stated its intention that all cars must be zero emission by then.

Now we can add in the High EV scenario:




Assuming that car ownership stays constant as a percentage of population, there will be 9 million more EVs by 2050 than the Two Degree scenario suggests, and 12 million more then the Consumer Power option.

And this is what the High EV outlook does for peak demand.




Demand will rise by 30.6GW from current levels.

The FES also notes that only 20% of cars will be charged at peak time. This sounds extremely optimistic, given that 43% of households have no access to off street parking.



Nobody can forecast the future, but it seems to me that the High EV figures are likely to be much nearer the truth than the rest.




Last week I made a very simplistic, back of the fag packet guess on the extra electricity needed, if all cars were EV. I came to an annual figure of 112 TWh.

The FES concludes it will be 90 TWH, so I was not far out!

  1. Mike Jackson permalink
    August 1, 2017 12:24 pm

    Something about the last sentence of Marshall’s letter sent a shiver up my spine.

    This “democratisation” of which he speaks, would that be related to “democratic” as in “The Democratic Republic of …”?

    Just askin’.

    • August 1, 2017 12:55 pm

      Putting energy supply into the hands of people is very dangerous. It has to be remembered that the average person is pretty stupid and that about half the people are more stupid than the average person. At least 97% of people have zero understanding of energy or how it is supplied. However, that said, I am happy to take back control of my energy bill, which I will dispose of without bothering to pay.

    • HotScot permalink
      August 1, 2017 5:29 pm

      Mike Jackson

      having failed on a number of state imposed diktat’s, not least the ‘encouraged’ use of diesels and, of course the disastrous Scottish poll tax ‘experiment’ we know that the British government is fantastically incompetent at the wholesale changeover to anything.

      The problem is, that this is unlikely to be proven the disaster it is likely to be, until 2040 and beyond, which gives them much time, and much confidence in their ‘success’ to embark on more ambitious diktat’s.

      As a consequence, as a lifelong Conservative voter, I will be supporting the UK Libertarian Party in an attempt to stop this march to a dystopian, socialist future.

  2. Jack Broughton permalink
    August 1, 2017 1:00 pm

    The FES also assumes that we will greatly increase nuclear generation by 2040: that looks totally impossible.

    Increased wind / solar will make the peak generation even more difficult to manage than it is now: we would need massive energy storage to be in place, as unlikely as the nuclear power increase.

    Another fact in the FES documents that is noteworthy, is that coal without our self-imposed carbon penalties would massively reduce the cost of generating electricity. The UK population would be delighted to know that we are relocating jobs to India and China so that they can emit more CO2 than we would have and are paying handsomely for this privilege!

  3. Gerry, England permalink
    August 1, 2017 1:04 pm

    ‘….the electric vehicle revolution takes hold…’ Really? Since he clearly states EVs I take this to exclude hybrids as the government policy appears to, and sales of EVs are microscopic.

    I agree with Mr Jackson – ‘democratization of energy supply’ sounds very Marxist superstate and has the opposite meaning.

    ‘take back control of their energy bills.’ What, the ones that are being jacked up with climate change taxes? Isn’t that also the ‘smart’ meter propaganda?

    Seems like ‘intelligence’ is an oxymoron as far as Marshall is concerned.

    While nobody can accurately predict the future, the elephant in the room will happen on 30 March 2019, after which who knows what state the UK will be in but the indications are not good as the Tories squabble amongst themselves, the inept May watches on helpless, and certain people are funding the Tory Ultra Brexiteers to the tune of £4m to drive us over the cliff.

    • August 1, 2017 1:09 pm

      The Two Degree scenarion assumes no hybrids on the road by 2050, and the Consumer Power only 1.2 million

      The high EV option does not specify, but given the emphasis on air quality I would assume no hybrids either

    • Tim Hammond permalink
      August 1, 2017 4:00 pm

      “to drive us over the cliff”.

      Now why wold anybody want that to happen? Simple answer, nobody would. So why are they doing it? Because they have a different view from you. Why are you right? really not sure.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        August 3, 2017 1:07 pm

        Look for Legatum Institute.

    • August 2, 2017 11:05 am

      Ovewr the cliff already, thanks to the past three governments (Labour/Coalition/Tory) – witness the fact that “austerity” is now defined as spending more than you receive in revenue.


  4. RogerJC permalink
    August 1, 2017 1:18 pm

    These scenarios are all well and good but why do they not include the additional electricity needed to replace gas for domestic cooking and heating? Is the Grid worried that if they did even our pathetic MSM may realise the impossibility of the policy government is pursuing.

  5. It doesn't add up... permalink
    August 1, 2017 1:50 pm

    I guess it may be worth repeating my earlier post here:

    I had a go looking at the elec gen requirements for an all EV scenario. If we take a cold winter day as the most challenging demand that has to be met, we get a demand profile that looks like this:

    19 Jan 2015 is a good day to pick, because we can see that the contributions from solar and wind are negligible – and scaling up the capacity of these is not going to solve any problems – together they account for just 2.5% of the day’s generation, and while the dispatchable plant can be ramped up they cannot. Keeping the lights on depended on a combination of coal, gas and nuclear (including a fairly steady contribution from net interconnector flows supplying additional coal and nuclear, and topping up the Irish at capacity, who also lacked wind output, apart from a dip in the morning rush hour to keep the French supplied). The peak was met with 1.9GW of pumped hydro, which of course is not dispatchable 24/7, and indeed was a net consumer of about 4GWh over the day for pumping and losses: however, it flatters the achievable output over 24 hours. Note too how small is the element of pumped hydro in overall supply: run flat out, it provided 13GWh across all pumped hydro sites – a tiny volume of storage.

    If we take annual demand for EVs at 125TWh, that’s just over 340GWh/day. However, on a cold winter working day demand will be higher, because battery performance is degraded, and there is additional demand to keep vehicle interiors and windscreens heated – and workdays will see higher mileages than typical weekends. So demand might easily be 400-450GWh, and could run higher if there is a tendency to top up because of range anxiety in the cold (just as we run petrol stations dry when a fuel delivery strike beckons – vehicles mainly used for short commutes might normally be allowed to run down somewhat before recharging to maintain optimum longer term battery performance). The yellow area on the chart is some 237GWh, less an allowance for the pumped storage effect noted above of about 10GWh. So we are already perhaps 240GWh or more short (note convenient number!). Of course, that assumes that the recharging demand profile is always at least as much as the available potential supply. Note there is no recharging during the evening rush hour.

    So the question boils down to how is demand for the extra 240GWh spread across 24 hours. If vehicles recharge for 8 hours overnight or during the working day, we have 30GW of extra supply required. Of course, we need to add in capacity factors in terms of generating capacity required. If there is an element of fast charging during the day for those doing longer journeys, that will of course produce demand spikes, because fast charges run at much higher rates. Some talk of superfast charging at 0.5MW, or just 2,000 cars per GW simultaneously. Even at 50kW, it’s just 20,000 cars per GW, but of course the recharge takes ten times as long – so the effect on grid demand is much the same assuming some randomness in the start of recharge times (this is the argument about kettles writ large, save that extremely rapid charging requires much more expensive chargers and beefier supply cables).

    In trying to estimate demand spikes average data are no longer of use. A starting point is this research from TRL: (may require you to supply an email address, but no charge)

    Click to access MIS016.pdf

    The first thing to note is that mileages differ significantly across the geography. Unsurprisingly, Londoners do low mileages because much of the time they can rely on public transport, while in rural parts mileages are much higher. That is at least some relief, in that there will be less need pere vehicle to provide recharging facilities in the biggest city centres, with all the disruption that would entail in doubling the capacity of the electricity distribution system. Secondly, there is a long tail on the distribution of high mileage vehicles.

    An alternative way to look at the peak demand is to consider that across under 10,000 petrol stations, with perhaps 2 pumps on average being used during the peak (allowing for time to manoeuvre into and out of the space and pay etc.), with each pump capable of 36 litres a minute with 10kWh per litre, and a 25% ICE efficiency we get an equivalent electricity demand of 20,000x90x60 kW: that’s 108GW!

  6. August 1, 2017 2:12 pm

    In a 100% EV scenario it seems inevitable that work places will be under pressure to provide EV charging facilities, or face problems attracting and retaining staff – at least those who can’t charge up at home.

  7. Athelstan permalink
    August 1, 2017 2:47 pm

    Yeah but the insofar as Green goes, da wimin don’t foresee any probs so it’s all go – wotever the cost innit?

    Like I said, all they see is the dream and [bu88er the reality] a nice shiny lecky car, they don’t do details like erm………………. where is the electicity coming from or, how much pollution does manufacture of said electric vehicular transport ‘cost’?

    Green fixated administrators, brain dead politicians, investment bankers with an eye to ‘investment possibilities through screwing consumers/taxpayers, motor industry cartels have great ‘power’, Green targets set in NYC/Brussels are the only impetus and all logic has been thrown out of the window long ago – it’s been decided, whatever the costs, if you wanna drive in the great Utopia being facilitated: you will do as you are told. Don’t forget either; wherever you are, whatever you are doing, how you drive, where and how you pay, distance travelled, destinations logged – big Brother will know your every move – it all boils down to one thing = control and absolute control – at that.

    Diktat, not choice, DIKTAT and CONTOL are the thing. Or, the other factor, the followers of the ‘crescent’ want to take us back to somewhere circa the Neolithic, either or, the prospect is certainly no easy vision.

    Tasmania anybody?

    • Paddy permalink
      August 2, 2017 6:48 am

      It’s too easy to blame the pollies. It’s the Civil Service that is the problem – they are part of the Green Blob – no, they *are* the Green Blob.

  8. August 1, 2017 2:50 pm

    As it appears the government transport and energy policy is based on the back of a fag packet: Here is my contribution, gleaned from various snippets of information for which I cannot vouch.
    I gather that going totally EV would require some 30 GW capacity to be added to the grid.
    Now Wind Farms need some 61 acres of land/sea to provide 1MW of capacity but more if actual output is considered.
    Solar panel energy farms also need land/?Sea area to the tune of some 5 acres/ MW with again a great deal more if actual output is taken into account.
    If we add these two major renewables together and guess what the actual area would be then we have a figure of some say? 100 acres per MW.
    Divide that into the 30 GWs required and multiply it with the required area we have 3 million acres, which works out at 12000 sq. Km or 4633 sq. Miles. Which on is par with the area of Northern Ireland at some 14,000 sq. km

    So all you green blob nimbys, where do you intend to put all these renewables?
    Batteries won’t help you. They are like milk bottles which don’t produce milk.

  9. Joe Public permalink
    August 1, 2017 2:58 pm

    Sim Evan’s Carbon Brief whinged about certain sources using one of the 2x FES extremes, but he had no compunction about using the alternative extreme!

  10. CheshireRed permalink
    August 1, 2017 2:58 pm

    Rest assured the gov’t will carefully consider all options…before selecting the most hideously complex and eye-wateringly expensive option. It’s absolutely guaranteed.

  11. Tom O permalink
    August 1, 2017 2:58 pm

    As a curiosity, do any of the studies on EVs and the amount of power they will require take into consideration the fact that batteries take longer to charge at the same rate as they grow older, as well as they don’t retain the same capacity? At what point in the life cycle of the battery does the government decide that an EV owner MUST replace his battery because it is on the charger too often and for too long? Finally, since battery life is dependent on how the battery is cycled, will the vehicle have a little warning light in it that says “don’t charge me yet” and “you screwed up you should have already put me on the charger!” There would seem to me to be a lot more flies in the ointment than just what is the likely amount of demand and when will it be put on the grid. And I didn’t even mention the energy costs of recycling all those batteries, especially the ones that get run completely down before recharging since the range of the vehicle is so limited.

  12. Joe Public permalink
    August 1, 2017 3:04 pm

    One aspect that seems to get ignored is multi-car households.

    99% of UK households’ electricity supply will support just a single 7.5kW charger, or 2x 3.5kW chargers. And nowt else except perhaps a low-energy lightbulb. No electric-kettle brew-ups in them whilst owners kick their heels for hours on end waiting for the 6-hour plus charge or top-up to finish at a rate of 11 miles per hour. (Nissan Leaf)

  13. keith permalink
    August 1, 2017 3:16 pm

    Am I missing something here, but everyone seems to be talking about cars. What about commercial traffic, is that included, and what about all the diesel trains running around. And then there are all the standby diesel generators, will these be banned?
    Then there is the issue Christopher Booker keeps talking about, heating by gas will not be allowed so all that becomes electric. Where is the power for that coming from on top of all the power needed for cars, etc.?
    This really does look like a total buggers muddle.

    • Joe Public permalink
      August 1, 2017 5:30 pm

      ” …. heating by gas will not be allowed so all that becomes electric.”

      To the powers that be, good luck with that – it’s impractical (impossible?) to time-shift or smart-meter interrupt that ……

    • daveR permalink
      August 2, 2017 12:01 am

      What about marine vessel emissions? A special dispensation exemption? A similarly enforced electrification of UKs fisheries fleet?

      Gove was particularly prominent recently across NE Scotland currying up constituent voter support against the disastrous EU Common Fisheries Policy (60+% of UK territorial waters catch tonnage caught by non-UK vessels – you’d almost have imagined there was a snap Brexit election on).

      What do you reckon, Minister, a forthcoming ban on marine diesels, too?

  14. Tim Hammond permalink
    August 1, 2017 4:03 pm

    Don’t worry, once we pay for all the infrastructure and generation capacity, there won’t be any money left for us to buy any of these new-fangled “cars”.

    • tom0mason permalink
      August 1, 2017 6:37 pm

      Indeed that was my immediate thought.
      What locality in the UK has the excess capacity in there local distribution network for such a precipitate rise in car chargers, and who will pay for the required upgrades and new equipment?
      Or will ‘smart’ metering deliver such magical returns that the country will be awash with excess power availability, as some of the thicker (and some not so intellectually challenged) MPs and ministers appear to think.

      • tom0mason permalink
        August 1, 2017 6:40 pm

        typo (again!)

        Should be …
        What locality in the UK has the excess capacity in their local distribution network for such a precipitate rise in car chargers, …”

        Also the reference to ‘smart’ meters should be ‘smart’ meters and batteries.

      • August 1, 2017 9:20 pm

        Well, here’s a dystopian future for you. Everyone is forced to have smart meters. The price of electricity varies from minute to minute; when demand approaches available supply, the cost begins to ratchet up. And up. An audible alert notifies you of every 10p step per unit. There is no upper limit; the price goes up until demand stabilizes.

        Or: bronze tariff: disconnected as demand approaches supply. Gold: disconnected only in emergencies. Platinum: never disconnected.

      • tom0mason permalink
        August 2, 2017 6:45 am

        Diamond tariff: Meter?
        I’ll have my people contact your people to advise about it.

  15. Stonyground permalink
    August 1, 2017 6:04 pm

    If CO2 really was a problem and sane people had been handed the budget that has already been blown on pie in the sky green projects to date, a huge reduction in CO2 emissions could have been achieved. Expanding nuclear power and electrifying all of our railways would have been a good start, I’m sure that other sane people can come up with more ideas.

    • August 1, 2017 9:21 pm

      And just as a recent electrification project is cancelled…

  16. John F. Hultquist permalink
    August 1, 2017 7:31 pm

    I give you 2 charts to look at for today – AUG 1, 2017

    First, weather for the week = HOT!
    Richland, WA

    Second, wind power now zilch, and continuing under high pressure:
    5 minute update on grid

    BPA is the Bonneville Power Administration – Oregon/Washington
    Wind is the green line at the bottom.

    Think about the disconnect between power need and power supply.
    Blue line is hydro.

  17. stephen m lord permalink
    August 1, 2017 8:12 pm

    When I lived in Edmonton it was necessary in the winter to plug your car in to a battery warmer and engine block heater. Most businesses had plugs for their employees. Now That was not much power but it seems in the UK that this would be viable for people commuting by car if their employer had a car park. Obviously would be much more power but there would be 8 hours a day to do it.

  18. Graeme No.3 permalink
    August 1, 2017 8:30 pm

    Since it is highly unlikely that enough nuclear can be installed and renewables will not be available when wanted, may I suggest a practical solution?
    This might involve a billion hamsters running in rings. This would be as practical as any of the wishful thoughts in this EV scenario. If the hamsters can’t produce enough output then an alternative is larger rings driven by public servants. Now where would we find public servants not gainfully employed?

  19. August 2, 2017 6:52 am


  20. Europeanonion permalink
    August 2, 2017 9:05 am

    What a lot of hyperbole and waffle. Listening to the debate of over self-drive cars I had this image of public transports. Empty cars coming by which you could perhaps stop by some means, board, and target to your own destination; having arrived, leave the vehicle to go on its way. This is public transport, ownership is not required.

    The debate is positively Metropolitan and a negation of the idea that many drive cars because they find it to be a source of fun as well as necessity. When you lose contact with the concept of a car, which just happens to be driven by electricity, and submit to its self-drive whims you also give-up your freedom of choice. You are transported but the pleasure is definitely not in the journey but in the arriving. I drive a car that allows me to enjoy the journey and I would feign give up that pleasure. To think that in that electronic world you become the pawn of some central whim that could intervene even at the level of the machine being operable or not is chilling.

    Let people have their electric cars if that is their choice and let market forces dictate the efficacy of that decision. But to imperil what has been one of the most glaring concessions by states to individual freedom to bureaucratic interjection and control is an intervention too far.

    It is all a part of that which the British Gas executive used in his company’s defence yesterday. The free market in power was liberated by the same government that now says that perhaps fuel prices should be capped. The original thought, based around competition between rivals seeking growth was a hopeful sign of price restraint and a nod in the direction of free enterprise (as long as you guard against the sort of cartel that the German car manufacturers have reputedly been operating). Alas no. The state uses private enterprise in so many departures as if it were but another government department and plunders their budgets without hesitation.

    Could the energy companies have foreseen a situation in which energy, an international commodity, and green issues, would drive energy prices the way that it has? Could energy have reckoned on the livid green movement and their powers above and beyond their number (as though government were really courting greens to support an agenda). It is not Brexit (or not only Brexit) that is a defining marker in our travails, our journey, but the fact that the cheapest energy is a major factor in the food chain of lives and manufactures and that for all the fine talk of technology what is actually proposed is an insurrection manoeuvred by the state to formalise existence on narrow and biddable lines and a poke in the eye for capitalism which is now not free to convene what the public demands. But, creepily, private enterprise has become part of the ‘ministry of things’. In the past innovation has driven social alteration, direction, today it is diktat; to impose a target that merely distracts and where real imagination and wonder are suppressed. In such ways democracy falls.

  21. Ben Vorlich permalink
    August 2, 2017 10:26 am

    I was mulling over the charging of electric vehicles this morning, my route took me past the two Severn Trent windturbines in Derby which finally seem to operating on a “permanent ” basis.
    Cycling down nicely laid out foot andcycle paths viewing the Desire Paths actually used by people, it seems that people choose the route from where they are to where they want to be and planners haven’t twigged the fact. This covers everything from footpaths to charging an EV. Not only that making it difficult to use a Desire Path won’t lead to an increase in using the nicely laid out footpath.

  22. Dermot Flaherty permalink
    August 2, 2017 4:50 pm

    Stepping back a tad from all the related discussions re. Green subsidies, All-Electric cars, Energy Supply, the following has occurred to me –

    (1) One thing that does not seem to have gotten much attention is that if you look at the 4 FES scenarios, both the Consumer Power and two Degrees scenarios are valid only in a background of high economic growth. Right now, who would think that that is a good bet for the next 20-30 years ? It strikes me that the Steady State and Slow Progression scenarios look far more likely.
    (2) Against that, which of our current crop of politicians is likely to speak out against the vision of a green Nirvana in order to accommodate a few inconvenient facts ? Certainly not Gove who last year said that Britain had had enough of experts.
    Now to be fair to him, at the time he was referring to economists but perhaps he has a wider set of targets in his sights
    (3) And anyway, why is Gove (Environment) sounding out about a subject (no new diesel or petrol cars after 2040) when this – and the implications we have all been discussing – are surely the preserve of the BEIS Secretary of State Greg Clark ?
    (Gove has form here; remember his sacking as Education Minister in 2014 for treading on Theresa’s patch when she was Home Secretary ?)

    Up to 6 months ago, Theresa May seemed to be making sensible statements re. affordable energy but the election and Brexit seem to have scuppered that.
    Maybe there is hope for return to sanity as reality sinks in and Gove gets another defenestration. If Trump was in power, he’d would have already hit the flowerbed.

  23. keith permalink
    August 6, 2017 8:57 am

    I think when the time comes it will be best to move to Italy. They love their petrol and diesel cars, you don’t see any idiot electric cars and you don’t see any charging points. Even if you did they probably wouldn’t work. Their electricity system is so fragile it wouldn’t be able to cope with EV’s. No only that I like the Italian approach to sticking two fingers up to authority.

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