Electric car charging on drive of country house

Europe’s grid can support over 100 million electric vehicles, study says

Image credit: Friptuleac Roman/Dreamstime

Europe’s electricity grid is capable of supporting over 100 million electric vehicles, a study by EY-Eurelectric has found.

EY-Eurelectric represents the power sector in 32 European countries. Its study could help to allay fears that the increasing popularity of electric vehicles will cause significant strain on pre-existing power networks.

However, the study also said that “timely planning” of charging infrastructure and coordination between public authorities, electricity utilities, grid and charge point operators will be necessary to prevent overloading the grid.

It is expected that Europe will have around 130 million electric vehicles by 2035, up from 3.3 million today. By then, 65 million chargers will need to be installed with around 85 per cent residential and 4 per cent 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.”

The study warns that the charging infrastructure rollout must keep up with the high growth seen in the electric vehicle market. 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 per cent on an urban distribution network, uncontrolled charging could lead to voltage deviations and affect the quality of power supply.

The study explores several solutions to such challenges while ensuring that charge points are situated where they deliver maximum customer convenience.

This includes a mass digitisation of the grid in order to improve understanding of customer behaviour and anticipate when electricity demand may be highest. Smart chargers will also need to be installed that manage capacity and prevent the grid from buckling under the pressure of millions of EVs plugging in simultaneously.

It also recommends integrating energy storage solutions into the charging infrastructure for situations when demand for rapid and high-power charging is heightened.

Meanwhile, credit card company Visa has also called for EV charging points to be standardised across Europe in order to make it easier for consumers to top up their vehicles.

At present, there is no widespread industry standard for payment acceptance at EV charging points. This leads to a system where consumers across Europe often do not have a choice of payment method and are forced into a single option such as signing up to an app or provider programme or even face not being able to charge their vehicle because they aren’t registered with the required subscription service.

Charlotte Hogg, Visa’s CEO in Europe, said: “We believe the widespread adoption of electric vehicles is key to helping Europe meet its net zero targets. Ensuring people can easily pay to charge their vehicles is essential if we want them to go electric. At the moment, this is not the case. We believe this must change so consumers have the choice they deserve.”

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