If Britain’s net zero transport ambitions are to be realised by 2035, the country’s EV charging network will need to be eight times larger than it is now to meet increasing power demand, according to a new report.
Field Dynamics, a net zero data analytics consultancy, carried out research to assess what EV charging demand is required today and into the future.
The firm’s modelling was based on analysis of the annual mileages of every car and van with a valid MOT over recent years – equating to 140 million records – paired with equivalent EVs, to work out real-life energy demand using terawatt-hour (TWh) figures. This dataset gives the energy demand of every car and van on the road in Britain – and Field Dynamics has dubbed it GigaMap.
Its analysis looks ahead to 2035 – when the ICE ban comes into effect – modelling a scenario where a third of fleets are electric. Based on current energy demands and charger utilisation figures, the figures suggest the network would need to be eight times larger than it is today – with some 120,917 slow chargers, 234,700 fast chargers, 461,150 rapid chargers and 39,926 ultra-rapid chargers.
The firm also explored the scenario of an overnight transition of Britain’s car and van fleet, setting out that Britain would face an increased charging demand of 71 terawatt-hours per year.
A significant portion of this demand, 22 TWh, would be from on-street households, heavily reliant on the availability and efficiency of public charging infrastructure.
To further put these figures into context, the UK generated 325 TWh of electricity in 2022. If exploring a fully electric fleet scenario, 22% of this total would be required for vehicle charging demand, 7% of this for on-street public chargers.
The firm cautioned that these figures assume that EVs do not become more efficient, utilisation rates do not improve and vehicle usage stays the same.
Latest Zapmap figures show there were 53,906 public charging devices across the UK as a whole at the end of December 2023. The Government has set a target to increase this 300,000 by 2030.
However, Field Dynamics highlighted that the availability of a charger does not equate to constant usage. According to Zapmap’s findings, chargers have an average utilisation rate of just 15%.
It also warned that understanding the average power throughput for different charger types was essential – using a 100kWh charger does not mean a vehicle will draw at that rate all the time and the firm has created an indicative power output for each charger type.
A Field Dynamics spokesman said:
In Great Britain, a 5-10 times expansion of EV chargers could likely meet 2035 demands, provided they are strategically placed. This nuanced perspective underscores the importance of using actual energy figures to plan network development and asset deployment.