National Grid plans electric car power network
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The FTSE 100 utility company operates the country’s high-voltage power grid. Superfast chargers could allay fears of electric car owners that they might run out of charge on a motorway, as well as helping to prevent any potential local power shortages.
National Grid has mapped Britain’s motorways and transmission networks and identified 50 strategic sites, said Graeme Cooper, project director of electric vehicles at the group. Those locations mean that more than 90 per cent of drivers would be able to drive in any direction from any location in the UK and be within 50 miles of an ultra-rapid charger.
The chargers would provide up to 350KW of power and would allow a driver to charge their car in five to 12 minutes, a big improvement on the 20 to 40 minutes it currently takes. That would make electric charging comparable to the seven minutes it currently takes on average to fill up a petrol car.
If 100 chargers were installed on each of the chosen motorway sites, it would equate to about 35MW of electricity — enough to power 14,000 homes.
“It’s the critical infrastructure that’s key,” said Mr Cooper. “It’s about future-proofing the network so it has the capacity to charge cars as quickly and efficiently as possible. Range anxiety is listed at the top of [drivers’] reasons for not buying an electric car.”
National Grid, he added, was “engaging with various parts of government” and was offering this “scenario planning” as “a potential answer” to show “what’s possible”.
The grid infrastructure would cost between £500m and £1bn, or about 60p per driver per year if all motorists shouldered the cost, according to National Grid estimates.
Analysts believe superfast chargers connected to the transmission network could also help prevent local power shortages.
One Tesla owner last November reported seeing two engineers take away two of the six dedicated chargers at a service station near Oxford on the M40. The remaining four were running at reduced power.
A new pizza restaurant had just opened on the site, he was told, and its oven required a lot of power from the local grid.
Welcome Break, which runs the services, said the Tesla chargers had not been affected by the opening of a PizzaExpress restaurant. There are 10 new chargers at the site which have a direct connection to the grid.
National Grid is already working with car company Nissan, maker of the Leaf electric car, on a project to test the potential of vehicles feeding power back into the grid. A consortium led by Nissan was awarded £10m in government funding last month to test the potential of the technology for businesses with fleets of electric cars.
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