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EVs Will Need Ten Hinkley Points

November 20, 2020

By Paul Homewood


I ran this post last month, but it is worth republishing given the decision to ban petrol/diesels in 2030.

I am also writing another post today, which adds some more detail:



A woman, circa 1912, hand-cranks the charger for her electric Columbia Mark 68 Victoria.

With suggestions that sales of conventional cars will be banned by 2030, attention is increasingly turning to how the electricity grid will be able to handle the increased demand from electric cars.

Sounding ever more desperate, the National Grid keeps trying to assure us that there will be no problem. But the facts suggest otherwise.

Last year as part of the Net Zero report, the Committee on Climate Change informed us that EVs and other surface transport would consume 76 TWh a year by 2050, in addition to current supply. Moreover, peak demand for EVs would be approximately 40 GW:


Evenly spread, 76 TWh would equate to an average load of 9 GW, but of course cars will not be charged so conveniently.

It is not unreasonable to assume that most will be on charge during the early evening, say 6pm to 10pm. I suspect most drivers will plug in as soon as they get home every night , regardless of power prices. That would imply peak load of 54 GW, so the CCC’s projection is a reasonable starting point.

Note as well that the CCC assume a reduction of 10% in car mileage, which I suspect is extremely optimistic.

Even if car charging could be shuffled to periods of low demand, this would only offset about 10 GW by utilising surplus capacity. Consequently during winter months, when demand is highest, EVs would necessitate an extra 30 GW of capacity, equivalent to ten Hinkley Points, or half of current UK capacity.

Add in extra demand for heating etc, and peak demand will rise from its current level of 50 GW to 150 GW:


The CCC’s solution to this extra demand is to build more wind and solar farms!


So it looks like you can forget about driving your car or heating your home when the wind stops blowing!

Then, of course, there is the issue of how the distribution can cope with the extra supply. Trebling of capacity would require significant, costly and disruptive network upgrades, as the CCC admit:


As much of the cost is “digging trenches”, as opposed to the “cost of cabling”, it obviously makes sense to oversize the networks now, rather than do piecemeal. But that also means that  taxpayers will have to foot the whole bill over the next few years, rather than spreading it out over thirty years.

Furthermore, if petrol and diesels are banned from 2030, most of the upgrade will need to be carried out well before then.

Regardless of the cost, I would have thought the biggest obstacle is the sheer amount of work and disruption involved. Is it even feasible that such work can be done in such a short time scale? 

For too long, decarbonisation targets have been presented as being sometime in the distant future, something that we the public don’t have to worry our little heads about. And also something that politicians don’t have to worry about, since it will be their successors in a generation’s time will have to deal with.

All of a sudden, that distant future is just around the corner!

  1. November 20, 2020 10:58 am

    About 1.5 million new cars are bought each year. It will be Interesting to see how many are bought in 2030. It will also be Interesting to see if there is any sort of rush to beat the 2030 deadline in say 2028 and 2029

    • matt dalby permalink
      November 25, 2020 1:13 am

      Would it be possible to buy a petrol/diesel car abroad and drive it in the U.K.? This could be a way round this crazy new rule, even if insurance premiums are higher for left-hand drive cars.

  2. Douglas Brodie permalink
    November 20, 2020 11:02 am

    My back of envelope calculation for the additional generation needed to support all-electric UK road transport was 9 Hinkley Points, and that was not allowing for factors such as losses in electricity generation and distribution, losses in EV battery charging (especially rapid) and discharging, battery degradation with age and an uplift to cater for charging peaks, e.g. during evenings and overnight. See Postscript 4 in

    I sent this to BEIS and various politicians but I never got a reply. In fact I am barred from communication with the Business Secretary – they are as bad as The Guardian.

    • Thomas Carr permalink
      November 20, 2020 3:42 pm

      Don’t forget that late last night we were importing 15% of our electricity from near Europe according to Gridwatch. Ergo , one less Hinkley point.

  3. November 20, 2020 11:17 am

    Like Doug I have written to the BEIS occasionally but unlike him have received replies, not that they are in any way relevant or informed of course. Just stock responses.
    No doubt Boris et al will have no problem charging their expensive new EVs when the time comes. BBC4 has started showing again episodes of Yes Prime Minister; can’t believe how real they seem now.

  4. Ian W permalink
    November 20, 2020 11:38 am

    If you thought that mandated cycle lanes caused disruption…

    “As much of the cost is “digging trenches”, as opposed to the “cost of cabling”, it obviously makes sense to oversize the networks now, rather than do piecemeal.”

    Imagine how much trenching that is. Probably every major and minor road being dug up. This is not a simple process especially in large towns. A significant amount of preplanning needs to be carried out and arrangements with other trenching that is being done. The power supply to every ‘single family home’ will need upgrading so that is trenching and digging to every single house. I doubt that there are enough electrical system workmen to be able to meet the requirement.

    Then there is the weather. In some weathers trenching and digging is not feasible. If there is a hard frost or heavy rain, similarly the relaying of all the roads will be necessary after the trenching is filled in.

    I suspect that the handwaving planners have never had to arrange to dig a trench along a major town thoroughfare in their lives. The planning to get this done by 2030 should probably have started 5 years ago.

  5. Harry Passfield permalink
    November 20, 2020 11:39 am

    My thinking comes at this from the aftermath: what will happen after five years of EVs?
    Will there be HGV-EVs?
    Will foreign FF HGVs be allowed into the country?
    Will they have to pay some kind of ‘carbon tax’ to drive here?
    Will all petrol stations have to close except for those keeping essential non-EV kit fuelled (the PM’s car and the King’s RRs, say)?
    Will petrol and diesel be astronomically priced?
    Will the plotters in the 2020 Presidential coup be out of jail?

    • Gamecock permalink
      November 20, 2020 12:24 pm

      Not to worry, Harry. By then, your economy will have collapsed and you will have been invaded by Denmark or Norway.

      • jack broughton permalink
        November 20, 2020 12:58 pm

        Maybe we should invade Norway to reclaim “our” North Sea gas and oil that they sell to us from “our” North Sea??? Would make the fisheries dispute with France seem pretty trivial. They used to invade us.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      November 20, 2020 12:34 pm

      “Will foreign FF HGVs be allowed into the country?”

      The flip side is will UK HGEVs be able to recharge in Europe

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        November 20, 2020 12:37 pm

        Ben: good point. But then, will ferries be able to allow for the extra weight they (HGV-EVs) carry?

    • Broadlands permalink
      November 20, 2020 12:59 pm

      Harry… you left one out. Will they tell us what to do with our useless ICE vehicles? Stack them up and build solar panel farms over them?

  6. November 20, 2020 11:40 am

    The new position of the climate people appears to be that if you could suck it in for the ozone you can surely do that for the climate. Here are the details…

  7. 2hmp permalink
    November 20, 2020 11:49 am

    I wrote to the PM asking on what facts he was basing his predictions – no reply or acknowledgement

    • Thomas Carr permalink
      November 20, 2020 3:39 pm

      Time for a petition , then. There should be enough of us to achieve critical mass if the serious newspapers and technical journals are alerted by press release well in advance.
      In truth I think that the PM is painting the outside of the shop and hopes that no one will see the void that is the stock room.
      There is not much sophistication about political strategy nowadays so I guess that the PM’s largesse with your money is a classic distraction ploy.

  8. Harry Passfield permalink
    November 20, 2020 11:56 am

    Further on my musings on post-EV: I was thinking back to how the horse and cart was replaced by the motor car. Let’s work from the Model T Ford launch. Just think what would have happened if horses (new ones, of course) had been banned to be replaced by Mod Ts. Could not have happened. This kind of social upheaval can only succeed with evolution, ot revolution.
    Fast forward to 2030 and the same applies.

  9. MrGrimNasty permalink
    November 20, 2020 12:12 pm

    EVs will power the grid and solve the problems of renewables. Pffffffft.

    ‘Interesting’ development in the CET since the start of November, pendulum has probably swung back in favour of a yearly all time record. Needless to say the November forecast at the beginning of November was completely wrong, has turned out very mild. It will come down (again assuming the current forecast), but even so, December only has to be in the same very mild positive territory and we’re doomed!

    Collective mind power to will a cold December (the potential is there to the east).

  10. Steve permalink
    November 20, 2020 12:25 pm

    Ten Hinkleys or 100 SMRs.

  11. Mack permalink
    November 20, 2020 12:44 pm

    For all of the practical reasons outlined above, there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of the UK being able to go full EV in less than a decade. Aside from all of the extra energy sources, power workers, town planners, sparkies, road diggers etc etc required to cater for this fantasy I think we would also need a small army of additional orthopaedic surgeons and ambulance chasing lawyers. With the nation’s streets littered with millions of cable trip hazards one can only imagine the impact these booby traps will have on an increasingly elderly population as they navigate around the new urban hell holes.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      November 20, 2020 4:54 pm

      There needs to be a prompt groundswell of opinion against. That means some serious organisation to get a viral petition with say 5 million signatures, and a lot of support from friendly parts of the press.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 20, 2020 8:52 pm

      Don’t forget the supply of the elements to make the batteries and the motors and the ever-increasing costs as demand increases.

  12. David Allan permalink
    November 20, 2020 12:56 pm

    It’s definite: the lunatics and Nut Nuts are now fully in charge of the asylum that the UK has become. The only thing my English friends can be grateful for is that they don’t have Sturgeon in charge.

    • November 20, 2020 2:04 pm

      Now that made me shudder! Wee Krankie! Do you not find it strange that at one time Scotland had a First Minister and a Deputy First Minister whose names both sounded like fish? Salmond and Sturgeon? Something fishy going on north of Hardian’s pile of rocks on the Whinn Sill!….

  13. ThinkingScientist permalink
    November 20, 2020 1:29 pm

    Don’t forget that mains gas for heating and cooking is banned from all new build houses form 2025…..

    How long before gas cooker and gas boiler replacements are banned? That won’t go down well either.

    I can see a “poll tax” moment brewing over the next 5 or so years. There is no opposition to any of this in the HoC (except the right wingers in Conservative party). Huge populist opportunity for Farage, perhaps, or some other new political party?

  14. November 20, 2020 1:58 pm

    Where is the calculation based on verified empirical data as input which demonstrates that all of this investment will:
    1. Save the planet (“saving” the planet from what exactly)?
    2. If these measures will not save the whole planet then how many % units of planet saving will we earn per £billion squandered, sorry slip of the digit, “spent”?
    3. How will those % points of planet saving be measured?
    4. What is the current global hard financial commitment to saving the planet and DOES it add up to the magical 100% of rocking horse units or whatever else they may be as units of planet saving because if it doesn’t, won’t the UK look a little foolish and more than a little broke?

  15. Paul Chamberlain permalink
    November 20, 2020 2:04 pm

    To simply say “sale of petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from 2030” barely scratches the surface of the problem. How are the manufacturers supposed to react? Do they continue producing fossil fuel vehicles until 2030 and then suddenly switch over? If they gradually switch over they need to maintain two parallel production lines. How will the public react? Will they continue to demand petrol; and diesel vehicles until the last minute? This depends not on banning production but on how long the vehicles will be permitted on the road. Modern cars easily last 15 years; if a cottage industry springs up to keep them running they could last for 20 or more; look at what happened in Cuba. Will there be a scrappage scheme? How long and at what cost will petrol or diesel continue to be available at garages? The list of potential problems seems endless.

    • Gamecock permalink
      November 20, 2020 5:11 pm

      “How are the manufacturers supposed to react?”

      Move to South Carolina.

      Funny story (well, I’m amused):

      Sig Sauer got in big trouble with Germany over exporting pistols to Colombia. Drop shipping them in New Hampshire for reshipment to Colombia fooled no one. Germany banned the export of the pistols to anywhere. Sig Sauer stopped exporting the pistols, but then did something delightful: they exported the FACTORY to New Hampshire. They make them here now, and are no longer subject to German export rules.

      The global economy limits what government can get away with. UK government edicts are not happening in a vacuum. There are consequences. Perhaps existential.

    • GeoffM permalink
      November 21, 2020 4:36 pm

      Undoubtedly there will be a big spike in demand at the last minute. Car dealers will assure their customers that the cars would arrive before the deadline. But it would be impossible for the supply chain to achieve this. Any car being delivered after the deadline risks being illegal. Customers risk losing their deposits, and dealers risk being in possession of junk cars.
      So this could go 3 ways. Either the dealers would insist on no more orders after, say, 12 months before the deadline. Or customers would have to pay 90% or so deposits. Or the govt. will allow an amnesty.

  16. Keith permalink
    November 20, 2020 2:14 pm

    What I find amazing is that the press does not seem to take any notice of GWPF releases which I am sure they are sent. Several so called journalists still believe wind power has never cheaper quoting the Government’s lies and energy auction prices which do not reflect the true cost of wind farm energy production.

  17. saparonia permalink
    November 20, 2020 2:22 pm

    I have a sinking feling that all this is to get us to accept nuclear power stations on street corners

  18. Keith Harrison permalink
    November 20, 2020 4:20 pm

    I note the government speaks of hybrid heat pumps which supplement the gas boiler. I read the other day the PM is to have ground source heat pumps installed at a rate of 600,000 per year. Am I correct, Because if so, the electricity demand and requirements will be higher than that yet calculated. Additionally, summer AC use will also keep demand higher than is the current experience. Lot of drilling for these installations.

  19. It doesn't add up... permalink
    November 20, 2020 4:51 pm

    The DfT reports 356bn vehicle miles driven in 2019. At 3 miles per kWh typical of an EV, that would be 118TWh needed p.a., equivalent to a steady 13.5GW. It is likely that home charging will be on a white meter style basis overnight or on sunny mid summer Sundays, with premium rates for topping up otherwise. Motor fuel sales are fairly even across the year, with seasonal variations only really apparent in holiday regions like the SW, which normally has extra demand in summer. Average demand is currently about 60% of peak demand, so in theory if recharging was optimised so that generators ran flat out all the time at peak demand there would be no need for extra generation capacity.

    Of course the reality is that demand is seasonal, aside from diurnal and weekly patterns of fluctuation. What really does seem to be a fantasy, despite a lot of “could support” statements in National Grid’s Future Energy Scenarios, is the idea that V2G storage would make any meaningful contribution to bridging the gaps in renewables output or periods of high heat demand. It is intermittency of supply and demand that will be the real driver of capacity provision in generation, storage and transmission. On a cold day, gas demand soars to 4.4 TWh, admittedly in part to fire CCGTs. If 40 million vehicles offered 20kWh to the grid that would be just 0.8TWh, even if it could be managed.

    The practical problems are much more about recabling the entire distribution network to provide charging facilities so fas as EVs are concerned..

  20. CheshireRed permalink
    November 20, 2020 8:04 pm

    Should there be some sort of oversight committee that confirms whether such a government policy is actually possible to be delivered?

    The logistics of Boris’ crackpot scheme are not just astounding but due to the implications of failure possibly very dangerous to our country. There should be a BIG question over the wisdom of putting all our domestic heating, lighting, hot water and cooking eggs into a single, all-electric basket. If the grid goes down the nation goes down. Millions would be impacted.

    Not just for the unnecessary nature of this policy but also for the possible fallout, I think it’s stark-staring insane.

  21. cajwbroomhill permalink
    November 20, 2020 8:12 pm

    Equipment and concepts purporting to “combat climate change” all illustrate a quotation from ancient Greek writings: “”(Those)whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad”.

    Fortunately for the peoples of China, India etc., etc., not conned by the AGW scam, they are not involved,except to make needed for renewables and so on.

  22. B. Johnson permalink
    November 23, 2020 9:08 am

    So many questions! I thought it would be simple, like a torch. you know, a battery, a couple of wires…..

  23. November 25, 2020 2:10 am

    If CO2 emissions were reduced to zero now, earth warming will continue until 2500!

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