Electric vehicles are coming, and utilities need to brace for their impact.

Uptake of EVs, despite some recent setbacks in the UK, has increased exponentially in recent years, highlighting a raft of high impact, and unexpectedly imminent, implications for utilities of all stripes.

The effects of EV clustering and charging on the stability of transmission and distribution networks have become a focal point for frenzied innovation activity as networks scramble to understand how EVs will disrupt legacy modes of operation.

Meanwhile, questions over the energy capacity required to power EVs have sparked debate over the need for new generation versus increased energy efficiency and system flexibility. And for energy retailers, EV’s have raised a challenge, and a golden opportunity, to create a new paradigm in customer relationships with offers which bundle EV charging into energy tariffs and even manage vehicle to grid (V2G) balancing services.

Policy factors, like government’s commitment to ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars from 2040, have brought a new urgency to the way in which utilities prepare themselves to cope with and benefit from all of the above changes and more. Indeed, calls for the 2040 deadline to be brought forward seem likely to accelerate the shift to an EV dominated transport system even sooner.

The EV revolution brings with it a multitude of challenges and opportunities for utility companies.

For network companies, the challenges posed by EVs to the stability of security of the national power grid are becoming increasingly urgent as uptake swells.

For energy suppliers, the opportunities come in the form of offering special tariffs for EV owners, and in the surging market for associated hardware, such as home batteries and (smart) charging points, which they could start to offer.

One thing is certain – EVs are coming, and utilities must make sure they are prepared to embrace the revolution.

Acknowledging the wide-ranging challenges and opportunities EVs present to energy utilities – and other system stakeholders – Utility Week launched Accelerate, a new event geared specifically to unite diverse perspectives on a core issue.

And on the back of this event, the magazine brought together a unique special feature, leveraging exclusive market insight and exploring high impact EV challenges for utilities in depth.

The full EV feature, which was published in the 25 May issue of Utility Week, can be found here