Image: Nissan

“Absolutely, no problem at all.’

This was the response that Graeme Cooper, the National Grid’s director of electric vehicles, gave the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy select committee when asked if the company would cope if new fossil fuel-powered cars were banned by 2030. This is ten years sooner than the current plans for the ban.

Cooper told MPs that 2030 is still far enough away for the National Grid to prepare and said that the firm would support a new deadline if it was brought forward. This comes after think tank Green Alliance said that a more ambitious deadline of 2030 would help the UK cut its oil imports by almost half and would significantly reduce the gap in meeting its carbon budgets.

Cooper also said that even if there were 9 million electric cars on UK roads by 2030, new power stations probably wouldn’t be required. As long as drivers were careful when they plugged in, preferably at off-peak times, the current network would largely be able to cope. Cooper did say that this estimate of 9 million EVs is likely to increase given the speed with which the technology is developing.

The National Grid also wants to help the electric vehicle industry tackle “range anxiety” by installing superfast charging points at motorway power stations. It is currently looking at 50 points across the UK where these chargers could be built, although given that service stations are usually in rural areas, upgrades to these energy networks would be required. These upgrades could end up being costly, with Cooper telling MPs that such plans would need “targeted investment”.

The Energy Networks Association agreed that “if the target was brought forward, energy networks are ready to deliver”, however, it was not so confident as the National Grid to offer its backing for an earlier deadline.

 

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