Electric vehicles are unlikely to create a power-demand crisis but could reshape the load curve. Here’s how to bend that curve to your advantage.
Could electric vehicles (EVs) soon face a different kind of gridlock? With the electrification of mobility accelerating, energy producers and distributors need to understand the potential impact of EVs on electricity demand (Exhibit 1). The good news: McKinsey analysis suggests the projected growth in e-mobility will not drive substantial increases in total electrical-grid power demand in the near to midterm, thus limiting the need for new electricity-generation capacity during that period.
Using information from Germany as an example, EV growth is not likely to cause large increases in power demand through 2030; instead, it potentially adds about 1 percent to the total and requires about five extra gigawatts (GW) of generation capacity. That amount could grow to roughly 4 percent by 2050, requiring additional capacity of about 20 GW. Almost all this new-build capacity will likely involve renewables, including wind and solar power, with some gas-powered generation.
Reshaping the electricity load curve
While the uptake in EV sales is unlikely to cause a significant increase in total power demand, it will likely reshape the electricity load curve. The most pronounced effect will be an increase in evening peak loads, as people plug in their EVs when they return home from work or after completing the day’s errands. However, at a system level, this effect will represent a relatively small percentage at most. Again, taking Germany as an example, we expect an increase in peak load of approximately 1 percent by 2030 and about 5 percent by 2050—increases that the system can likely absorb.
However, the changing load curve will lead to challenges at a local level because the regional spread of EVs will most likely vary—in some cases, significantly. McKinsey’s geospatial-analytics forecast of zip-code-level EV penetration shows suburban areas will likely become early EV-adoption hot spots. Therefore, even at still-low nationwide EV-penetration levels, local pockets with significant EV populations will probably emerge (Exhibit 2). . . .
Beyond peak-load increases, the highly volatile and spiky load profiles of public fast-charging stations will also require additional system balancing. We simulated the load profile of a fast-charging station to explore this situation in greater detail (Exhibit 4). In this case, a single fast-charging station can quickly exceed the peak-load capacity of a typical feeder-circuit transformer.
Unmanaged, substation peak-load increases from EV-charging power demand will eventually push local transformers beyond their capacity, requiring upgrades. Combining data on the distribution of EV penetration per zip code from McKinsey’s geospatial analysis with data on the current utilization of transformers reveals that capital-expenditure requirements as a function of national-level EV penetration follows an S-curve shape. In other words, while investment needs require very few upgrades at low EV penetrations, they jump rapidly as the number of EVs increases and eventually level off again at high penetration levels. Without corrective action, we estimate that the cumulative grid-investment need could exceed several hundred euros per EV. . . .
https://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=26285GCR: Study: Jump in electric vehicles may not stress California's power grid