Former Npower boss Paul Massara has dismissed dire warnings that the UK will require massive increases in electricity generation to cope with the phasing out of internal combustion vehicles.
In its air quality strategy, published this week, the government outlined plans to end the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.
Critics of the plan have seized on the findings of a National Grid report, published earlier this month, which predicted that peak hour demand for electricity could increase by up to 50 per cent if the number of electric vehicles rises to 9 million, requiring additional investment of £200 billion.
However, Massara, who is now chief executive of North Star Solar, said that these predictions were the most extreme cited by the grid.
He said: “The government’s announcement of a ban on new petrol and diesel car and vans in favour of electric vehicles has led to wild claims of increased electricity demand. Assertions that UK demand could increase by 50 per cent, and could cost £200 billion, have been bandied around in the media.
“But this projection of increased demand is the most extreme forecast from the National Grid; in reality, demand is likely to go up by a much lower amount, perhaps as little as 10 per cent, particularly as the UK moves to a more smart, flexible power grid. Likewise, the £200 billion figure assumes using the most expensive technology to meet peak demand when many lower cost alternatives are available.”
Massara also said that electric vehicles could contribute to the development of a more flexible grid.
“Electric vehicles are also themselves a key component of a flexible grid, offering energy storage that can help balance supply at demand.”
Dr Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit backed up Massara.
He said: “The cherry-picking of facts in the reaction to Michael Gove’s electric vehicle announcement has been deeply unhelpful. For one extreme forecast predicting a 50 per cent increase in demand, there are a multitude of others showing more manageable situations, all of which are far more likely to occur.
“The shift to electric vehicles will of course put extra demands on the grid, but developments in smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technologies, alongside improvements in batteries, make the worst-case scenario an unrealistic prediction. On the flipside is an energy system that wastes less, encourages market dynamics and could save us £8 billion according to the National Infrastructure Commission. We have the tools to build it, we just need to make it happen.”