The UK Government is clearly committed to hitting its Cop26 targets of a 76% reduction in CO2 emission by 2030.
The two key strategies’ unpinning this plan, is to replace Gas Boiler heaters in the home (41% of personal CO2 emissions) with electric heating and a move from “Internal Combustion Engines” (I.C.E) cars powered by polluting petrol or deiseal engines, to clean zero emission Electric Vehicles (EV’s).
However, the “elephant in the room” in the room that Government policy makers seem keen to avoid discussing, is that our national grid is not fit for purpose in a low emission world.
Coal powered power stations have gradually been phased out over the last 10 years and only represent X% of our power generation. However, these where primarily replaced with Gas burning stations, which itself has now become an issue both in terms of emissions and price.
The UK own North Sea gas deposits are running down, and gas pricing has surged by 600% on the back of disputes between Russia and Europe over Russia potential axenization of the Ukraine, making gas a very expensive and potential unreliable source of power, even before its Co2 emissions are considered.
Nuclear Power in terms of Co2 emissions is one of the “Cleanest” power sources and currently represents 25% of UK capacity. However, due to its political toxicity, Nuclear has been massively under invested in, to such an extent that 75% of our current capacity will be going offline by 2025. It also beggars’ belief that virtually all our nuclear capacity is owned and controlled by the French via EDF or the Chinese. Although France has long been an ally, the current turmoil over Brexit and fishing rights, has already led to threats of France turning off the power supply to the Channel Islands.
The UK Government seems to have woken up at last to the nuclear problem and just before Cop26, announced a major new investment in both full scale power station projects and Rolls Royce’s new “mini” nuclear power station technology.
Although, I share obvious concerns over the disposal of nuclear waste, terrorism, and nuclear meltdowns, it’s a matter of balancing this relatively low risks with the clear and present threat from the impacts of Global warming. In my mind Nuclear as the only 24 hour, 365 days a year power source, is a key plank in a national grid capable of powering the EV revolution.
Sustainable power sources such as solar panels and wind turn bines are growing, but have the draw back that their power generation is not constant and for solar is obviously non-existent overnight.
Not surprisingly until increased nuclear capacity comes online, many observers have been questioning how the national grid can possibly support the huge roll out of EV’s that is coming, as we replace our polluting ICE cars with electricity hungry EV’s.
Vehicle to grid (V2G) looks likely to be a key element in the answer.
Buying an EV is like buying a massive “Battery” that you can attach to your house. Just like the old economy 7 heaters, these can be charged to full using the ultra-cheap rates of 4p per KW between 12am-4am in the morning, used for the daily commute and still on average have 80% battery capacity left when plugged back in at home again after work at 6pm.
Using V2G technology these mega batteries can then be used to power the house during the national grid’s peak usage hours of 6-10pm, when electricity costs are 12p per KW, effectively reducing the peak load and smoothing out demand on the grid to allow it to deal with the higher demand.
The homeowner clearly has a financial advantage to adopt this model, as long as they have moved to the right EV tariff, since the price arbitrage means they can charge and drive their EV for Free and still potentially have a further saving on their home electricity bill.
Not all manufactures are currently building their EV’s to support V2G, however it seems inevitable that Governments across the world will mandate this capability in order to smooth electricity demand, whist individuals should be attracted by the lower running costs of V2G enabled cars.
The only potential downside of V2G is the potential impact on battery life and to battery warranties from manufactures, however any manufactures wanting to sell V2G enabled vehicles will have a plan for this.
In future EV’s may keep the home lights burning, as well as power the journey home to them, as they become “life support “units for the National Grid.