Can we cope with the surge in electric vehicles and solar panels?

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An environmental and energy think-tank has warned that the UK’s power network is essentially unprepared for the impact solar panels and electric vehicles may have by 2020.

The Green Alliance have highlighted two key threats:

  1. Charging electric vehicles particularly at peak demand times and in local clusters.
  2. The impact of solar PV as the economics lead to subsidy free installation, leaving the government with less influence over the market.

The think tank warned that “electric car charging is entirely unmanaged, and as few as six closely located vehicles charging together at peak time could lead to local brownouts”, potentially harming locally connected electronic equipment.

Part of the issue is the use of so called ’dumb’ electric vehicle chargers installed at the majority of charging points, which can’t control when charging takes place. The Green Alliance is calling for the government to ensure ‘smart’ chargers are installed from now on to help ensure batteries are not being charged at peak times.

The think tank made some key recommendations to help cope with the impact of increasing levels of small scale energy provision. One key recommendation proposes adopting an ‘independent system designer’ to manage the integration of small-scale energy into the UK’s energy system. This would include not just electricity but also heat and transport energy.

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