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The electricity grid can support +100 million EVs, new study reveals

The electricity grid can support +100 million EVs, new study reveals

The EV revolution is on a tear, as direct electrification becomes the main driver of a decarbonised economy. The electricity grid will remain stable despite exponential growth of the EV market and high electrification ambitions, reveals new EY-Eurelectric study. But timely planning of charging infrastructure and coordination between public authorities, electricity utilities, grid and charge point operators will be paramount to success.

130 million electric vehicles, up from 3.3 million today, will hit the European roads by 2035, according to a joint Eurelectric-EY study unveiled today. By then, 65 million chargers need to be installed to unlock a seamless user experience. Of those, 85% will be residential, while 4% will be on public highways.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, Eurelectric’s President said:
“Electrification is now an irreversible megatrend in road transport. The challenge ahead is speeding up infrastructure rollout in a well-coordinated manner to respond to growing charging needs while ensuring the optimal use of the electricity network.”

Serge Colle, EY’s Global Energy & Resources Industry Market Leader, said:
“To accelerate EV uptake, we need to make e-mobility work for the customer. This means delivering a seamless experience with a robust charging infrastructure that allows everyone to charge quickly and reliably. With significant investment needed in the grid and on supporting critical digital solutions, utilities are key to winning customers’ hearts and minds.”

The charging infrastructure rollout must keep up the EV market growth. It is thus urgent to tackle existing bottlenecks: permitting and grid connection delays of up to 36 months, funding constraints, availability and access to real-estate in strategic charging locations and interoperability restrictions.

The existing electricity grid will be able to accommodate the transition to EVs, but advance planning and coordination are needed to ensure that it copes with future peaks in energy demand and increased loads. Once EV penetration reaches 50% on an urban distribution network, uncontrolled charging could lead to voltage deviations and affect the quality of power supply.

The study explores several mitigating solutions to such challenges. While ensuring that charge points are situated where they deliver maximum customer convenience and provide the right investment incentives, it recommends to:

  • digitalise the grid to understand, anticipate and optimise customer behaviour, grid impacts and network needs,
  • install smart chargers to manage capacity and prevent the grid from buckling under the pressure of millions of EVs plugging in simultaneously,
  • integrate energy storage solutions in the charging infrastructure for situations when demand for rapid and high-power charging is heightened

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