Soaring fuel prices and net zero targets are driving an accelerating demand for electric vehicles (EVs). This surge should not be solely focused on the availability and price of business fleets and personal cars, however. The infrastructure – the widespread availability of charging points – is crucial to the all-electric transition staying in the fast lane. This sharpens the focus on microgrids, and the need for more of them to be built to relieve the strain on the grid. In short, an expansion of microgrids is required to match the expansion of the EV market.
Why do electric vehicles need microgrids?
Microgrids can power housing estates, hospitals, factories – anywhere there is going to be an increased demand for vehicles to plug in.
For businesses, there are practical reasons to incorporate microgrid infrastructure into plans for electrifying fleets. Of course, all businesses must embrace EVs, as no new petrol or diesel cars will be sold in the UK after 2030. For many businesses, especially those sending vehicles on regular and lengthy journeys, construction of a microgrid will make sense in terms of security, reliability and also offering cost savings.
Microgrids can also provide EV charging when there are constraints on the grid. This can and does happen frequently for a number of reasons, including extreme weather, which is becoming more of a feature due to climate change.
Much media attention is given to ‘range anxiety’ among EV drivers, with a relative sparsity of charging points, compared to petrol pumps, being a concern for people when travelling long distances. This is perhaps being a little overblown, as the range of the vehicles is improving all the time, and more charging points are being provided across the UK by the day.
However, microgrids can help ease this anxiety by providing large scale charging stations. These will also surely become commonplace wherever there are large surges of traffic and demand – for example at concert or sports venues.
The future road
According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), transport is responsible for 14% of greenhouse gas emissions globally.
The use of EVs is seen as a realistic route towards reducing harmful emissions, and sales of EVs are rapidly increasing worldwide.
This speedy growth, together with the increase in EV battery capacities, will require grids to adapt to the new load, and perhaps new times of peak demand.