How renewable is the electricity in the national grid?

We have a goal in the UK, that by 2030, no new cars will be sold that are powered by fossil fuels. So, if you get a new car after this time, it will be an electric vehicle (EV). And the plan is that these EVs will be powered by renewable energy sources, like wind or solar. Which means that driving in the future should be almost emission-free.

But where do we stand at the moment, and can our national power grid support the change?

Coal-generated power has declined since 1993, with the gap in the supply being plugged by renewables – but we are a long way yet from no longer needing fossil fuels. Several journalists have invested this recently and we at Go Car Charge wanted to take a look at their findings.

Being the UK, we know that relying on solar is tricky when accounting for dark or cloudy days, and the wind can be an equally unreliable energy source. So, if they aren’t the answer, what is?

Nuclear? Well, putting aside the mixed emotions this energy source creates, the British building programme has ground to a halt with ever-increasing costs. The Hinkley Point plant in Somerset has nearly doubled in costs to £23 billion, and no end date in sight. And the proposed plant in Suffolk could take 12 years to complete at a cost of £20 billion, and it isn’t even approved yet. And the nuclear situation is complicated by the fact that six of our seven currently operating plants are planned to go offline by 2030.

Where does the electricity come from for electric vehicles right now?

In November 2020 the National Grid issued warnings that Britain was already stretched, and the forthcoming winter months always place an additional strain on the system. It’s thought that when there is limited renewable energy being generated then the amount in the national grid that is from this source can be as little as 2%. And those energy companies who invest in renewable sources of energy put what they generate into the national grid, which is mixed with all other electricity generated from fossil sources – so it isn’t a clean cut as we would like at the moment for the customers.

The challenge is that our national grid is already struggling, and we increasingly rely on imported electricity from the EU. Where does that leave us for the future? That is an interesting and complex question and something that our electricity planners are working on.

Part of the solution might lie in home solar panels  that charge a battery that stores the energy to recharge the EV overnight. Or greater investment in alternative sources, like wave power. What we do know is that the next few years are going to be interesting, even more so as the demand for EV’s is greater than predicted following pandemic of 2020 and the fuel crisis of September 2021.

In the meantime, we will keep sharing what we learn about anything related to EVs and how to charge them and if you want to understand more about EV chargepoints and what Go Car Charge can do for you, why not chat with one of our team.