While the UK government has vowed to end the sale of all new conventional gasoline and diesel cars by 2040, as part of a wider plan to fight air pollution, there is talk that electricity demand will lead to a fast and dirty response to a strained power grid.
But here’s what everyone’s missing in that debate: While EV sales are going to rise and electricity demand to power them will strain the grid and lead to less-than-ideal power generation solutions, the whole plan will help clean power generation to increase its market share.
Nothing is black and white. And big transformations are never immediate. We’re not talking about an overnight elixir that will magically clean up the air; we’re talking about a step-by-step process that is gradually less dirty.
Overloading the Grid (Mind the Gap)
The UK’s National Grid anticipates peak demand from electric vehicles alone being around 5 GW, which represents an 8 percent increase from today’s peak demand.
This peak demand forecast assumes what the National Grid calls the “Two Degrees” scenario, in which most cars would be EVS, with only 6 percent of them hybrids. But by 2045, only pure EVs would be on sale.
According to Wood Mackenzie, the UK plan to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2040 “will have a massive impact on the refining sector and the oil markets.”
To handle the extra peak demand, the most flexible way is to build open-cycle gas power plants.
One of the options for a “rapid response” plug-in capacity to make up for shortfalls could come from certain open-cycle gas-fired plants that are more polluting and less efficient.
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