My Electric Avenue makes its way to Westminster

Last week I gave evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee to assist its inquiry into the progress the UK is making towards meeting its 2020 targets for renewable transport fuels.

The UK is obliged to source 10% of its energy consumption from renewable sources within transport by 2020. Electric vehicles (EV) will have an important role to play in meeting that target. 

The My Electric Avenue project we launched in 2013 explored what the increased demand from EVs may have on the local electricity network. In designated ‘electric avenues’ ten or more individuals committed to driving an EV for 18 months, as we sought to simulate a 2030 electricity network, and identify what steps were needed to ensure the UK’s networks are ready for the increased presence of EVs. 

One of the issues we identified is with the accelerated growth of EV adoption in a concentrated area the local networks will require upgrades to manage the increased demand. The project also demonstrated there is a real appetite from consumers for EVs, with 58% of participants indicating they would continue using them after the project concluded. This is an exciting development. The electrification of transport will be tremendously important in the UK’s decarbonisation efforts.  

The committee has an important role in holding the government to account on its commitments within energy. I not only had the opportunity to present the My Electric Avenue project, but to set out what sort of action SSEPD would like to see the government take to drive the uptake of EVs. I emphasised the importance of stability from the political sphere in terms of policy and highlighted the powerful driving force of consumer choice. 

It was important to highlight to the attending MPs the tremendous potential of EVs, but to also note they should not be viewed as a silver bullet. As the take up of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles increases there will continue to be an important role for gas, hydrogen, biomethane and it is important suitable support is provided for the transition to decarbonising our transport sector.

This also brought the decarbonisation of heating systems into focus, as there’s likely to be significant overlap between the impacts and innovations from electricity networks and heating systems. Thankfully we have a number of projects underway such as Thames Valley Vision and NINES which are assessing what will happen when customers move to using innovative solutions for providing their homes with heating and hot water, and I was able to share details of these with the committee.

Following the conclusion of the evidence sessions the committee will produce a report containing a series of recommendations for the government to consider.

I told the committee SSEPD is prepared to proactively work to ensure our networks are ready to meet the increased demand caused by the proliferation of EV ownership, as well as the impacts from the decarbonisation of heating systems.  

About the author

Stewart Reid Future Networks & Innovation Manager

Stewart leads SSEPD’s team dedicated to developing the company’s electricity networks, and their operation, to support a low carbon future. Stewart has worked in the electricity industry since 1983 and has been involved in managing electricity networks in many parts of Scotland, in a range of roles.

Read more articles by Stewart Reid