When the future of transport is electric, how will the grid handle the extra demand for electricity?

It’s a big question, given how fast car manufacturers are moving to electric. Just this year, Volvo announced that they would stop making cars powered only by combustion engines by 2019 and Mercedes pledged to manufacture electric versions of all their cars by 2022.

The global push to reduce carbon emissions means that sales of purely diesel and petrol cars will be banned by 2040 in countries including France and the UK.

We asked E.ON’s electric car expert, Armin Vielhauer, to explain how we’ll power our electric cars – and how the grid will deliver. 

When everyone has an electric car, where will all that electricity come from?

It will come from you. People are already moving away from the grid and generating their own energy in their homes and businesses. From solar to wind energy, self-generation systems will put the power in your hands. You can use it to heat your home and hot water, and of course, to charge your electric car. 

What happens if I generate too much or not enough energy?

Battery storage is coming on leaps and bounds, so you can store excess energy you generate in a home storage battery and even sell it back to the grid. If you don’t generate enough energy the grid will be there as a back-up and you can always call on extra power if you need it. 

What if I can’t generate my own energy?

Don’t worry. Recent academic research predicts that most people won’t charge their electric cars at the same time which means that the grid won’t feel such significant power surges. Also, E.ON are working on flexible tariffs that reward people for charging at low-demand times meaning the grid will be able to cope. 

What innovations will change how we charge our electric cars in the future?

Smart devices and the Cloud will have a big role to play. In the future, we’ll be able to control the electric charger in our garage from inside our houses. We’ll even be able to store energy in the Cloud from home and draw it down elsewhere when we need to, just like storing and retrieving your documents online. 

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