The electric vehicle (EV) market is predicted to experience major growth over the next decade, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest report on e-mobility.
Last year, EV numbers worldwide reached 2 million, with China accounting for 40% of that total.
China has also deployed over 200 million electric two-wheelers, as well as 300,000 electric buses and leads the globe in electrification of the transport sector. China, the US and Europe made up the three main markets, totalling over 90% of all EVs sold globally.
According to the IEA, between 9 and 20 million EVs could be deployed by 2020, and between 40 and 70 million by 2025. EVs only made up 0.2% of total passenger light-duty vehicles in 2016 so there is much to be done to promote EVs.
Cities taking a leadership role in EV growth
The report points out that a number of cities are encouraging EV adoption to improve air quality and reduce pressure on the grid. Paris, for instance, has mandated that any EV can re-charge at the EV stations in its car-sharing programme, called Autolib.
Amsterdam offers the installation of charging points on public parking spaces to those who make a request, ensuring that charging infrastructure is installed where it is actually needed.
London for its part encourages EV adoption by waiving its congestion charge.
Fleet procurement is an important means of encouraging early EV uptake, according to the report.
Fleet operators, both public and private, can contribute significantly to the deployment of EVs, first from demand signals that they send to the market, and second thanks to their broader role as amplifiers in promoting and facilitating the uptake of EVs by their staff and customers.
There are currently four major US cities that are mass-purchasing fleets. Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland are leading a partnership of over 30 cities and aim to purchase 110,000 EVs, a significant number when compared to the 160,000 total EVs sold in the US last year. The fleets include police cruisers, street sweepers and garbage collectors.
Electric Vehicle Initiative helps accelerate EV figures
The report provides a collection of national-level data on EV deployment based on primary data collected from member governments of the Electric Vehicle Initiative (EVI).
The EVI is a multi-government policy forum established in 2009 under the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), dedicated to accelerating the deployment of EVs worldwide.
EVI members launched its campaign EV30@30 at the beginning of this month, setting the collective goal for all EVI members to achieve 30% market share of EVs by 2030. These include passenger and light commercial vehicles, as well as buses and trucks.
Impact of EVs on the power system
The report highlights the importance of electricity systems to ensure system adequacy and quality of service.
The extent to which higher shares of EVs and their demand for charging will impact electricity networks will depend significantly on the technologies and charging modes in place.
The majority of EV charging is expected to occur at homes and businesses or in public charging facilities. Rising EV penetration is therefore likely to have an impact on low-voltage distribution grids in residential or commercial areas first.
EVs, in contrast with other loads on distribution networks, are not stationary so a greater understanding of EV charging patterns and technologies will be necessary to ensure an appropriate integration into distribution grids.
When new loads are added to the grid, there is a greater need to ensure that energy supplies are sufficient and that capacity is available on demand. The IEA analysis shows the additional energy demand from EV loads is sizeable but largely manageable.
Depending on the electric car usage patterns, higher shares of EVs could have a sizeable impact on the capacity required at certain times and locations, with consequences for both adequacy and quality at different levels:
• at the generation/wholesale market level, where high demand and scarce capacity could increase prices
• at the transmission/system operator level, where stress on the system during peak times requires more system services, such as frequency control, and the need to maintain reserve power capacity
• at the distribution level, where the overloading of power lines and transformers and voltage drops could occur. The impact of EV charging will be felt first at local hotspots on distribution grids before the other two levels are affected. In such local situations, network overloads can result in the accelerated ageing of grid infrastructure and eventually cause service interruptions, which could require investments for upgrading lines and transformers.
Strong policy support for EVs
Clear and ambitious policy support is vital to keeping the growth of EVs on track according to IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives report.
Despite impressive improvements in costs and energy density over the past decade, battery packs are still costly, driving up retail prices.
Financial incentives for EV adoption and taxes on fossil fuels will continue to be important in the current phase of EV technology deployment to initiate and reinforce a positive feedback loop that, through increasing sales, production scale-ups and technology learning, will further support cost reductions for batteries and other components, states the report.