That’s among the conclusions reached in a new National Grid ESO report, which suggests the 35 million battery-powered cars expected to be on the country’s roads by 2050 will be instrumental in providing greater flexibility to the grid and in supporting more generation from intermittent renewable energy sources, such as wind farms and solar plants.
It states during periods of oversupply, when output outstrips demand, EVs could be used to store surplus electricity – National Grid ESO calculates by this time, the country’s cars alone could store as much as 20% of all national solar generation, a factor that will become increasingly important as coal plants across the UK continue to close down.
This would help minimise the costs of transitioning to a low carbon economy by reducing the need for new grid-scale battery storage capacity to be built.
The organisation says to achieve net zero goals, no natural gas boilers can be used to heat homes by 2050 – it argues the widespread deployment of clean hydrogen heating in conjunction with improved building efficiency will need to be implemented to fill this gap.
To help households in 2050 cut heat-related energy use by more than a third, more than seven million hybrid heat pumps need to be installed to provide much-needed flexibility.
It stresses although government targets are achievable, immediate action is required and must be underpinned by a cohesive whole system view across the electricity, gas, heat and transport sectors, enabled by digitalisation and better sharing of data.
Kayte O’Neill, Head of Strategy and Regulation at National Grid ESO, said: “We balance supply and demand of Great Britain’s energy day in day out so see firsthand how the system is changing.
“EVs continue to be a catalyst for decarbonising the system, making it more flexible as well as bringing down costs for consumers too and whilst gas will still have an important role to play, a clear plan for the decarbonisation of heat is needed.”