There could be as many as 36m electric vehicles (EVs) on UK roads by 2040, double the number expected just a year ago.

That’s according to the latest National Grid Future Energy Scenarios, published today. Yet despite raising electricity demand, National Grid now says the rapid rise of EVs will help the UK shift towards more renewable and low-carbon electricity generation.

Smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technology means EVs will be able to help smooth electricity usage through the hours of the day, National Grid says. They will be able to charge mainly when demand is low and even feed back into the grid when demand is high.

“Growth in EVs supports the continued trend towards more low-carbon generation,” says National Grid. “[They] will be able to support the continued growth in renewables by storing excess generation and releasing it back onto the network when it is needed.”

Peak electricity demand could soar above 85GW by 2050, driven by a shift towards electric heating technologies and EV. Peak electricity demand stands at just under 60GW today. However, this could be curbed if the bulk of EV charging happens off-peak and the use of vehicle-to-grid technology becomes widespread, the National Grid said. Even so, the National Grid found peak electricity demand would still increase by between 5 and 8 gigawatts (GW) by 2030.

Further the report suggests, Solar PV could be the UK’s most significant power generation technology by as early as 2030, with 33GW of installed capacity compared to 13GW today.

That would be enough to topple solar’s nearest competitor – gas – which National Grid expects to supply 31.7GW in 2030 and 22.8GW by 2050. To allow this flexibility for teh system could be provided by 9GW of storage by 2030.

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