The annual cost of integrating electric vehicles (EVs) into the energy system could be cut by up to a half by 2030 through a combination of smart and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging, a new report has found.

The study was produced by Vivid Economics on behalf of WWF using an energy system investment model developed by Imperial College.

It examined the impact of electric vehicles on whole-system costs by 2030 under two scenarios – one in which sales of new conventional petrol and diesel vehicles are banned by 2040, and another in which the ban comes into effect a decade earlier.

In the 2040 scenario, the number of EVs on the roads was projected to reach 13 million by 2030, compared to 20 million in the more ambitious 2030 scenario.

Either would require a substantial increase in generation capacity. However, smart charging would reduce the figure by 11GW in the 2040 scenario and 15GW in the 2030 scenario. V2G charging would reduce the total by another 2GW in both.

With standard charging, the cost of accommodating EVs on the power grid would be £2.5 billion per year in the 2040 scenario, and £3.9 billion per year in the 2030 scenario.

Operating an EV would add £175 to the average owner’s annual energy bill, although this would be significantly less than the £800 it typically costs each year to fuel a new conventional car or van today.

Smart charging would reduce these annual costs by £1.1 billion and £1.6 billion respectively – a 42 per cent decrease in both instances.

With V2G charging thrown into the mix, the costs would be reduced by £1.2 billion (49 per cent) and £1.8 billion (46 per cent). The impact of charging on owners’ energy bills would fall by £75 and £95.

The report notes that the 2030 scenario with smart charging is cheaper than the 2040 scenario with standard charging. On this basis, it says the charging profile is a more important factor in shaping grid integration costs than the number of EVs.

“In other words, the smartness of the transition to electric vehicles will be the main factor determining how cost effective the transition is, not the speed of the transition,” it explains.

Impact of EV charging on whole-system costs

Source: ‘Accelerating the EV transition’, Vivid Economics, modelling by Imperial College

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