In an electricity market that was rapidly adapting to large-scale adoption of rooftop solar PV and energy storage, electric vehicles would have “negligible” impact on the grid over the coming 20 years, a new report by the Australian Energy Market Operator has found.
In its first big study of the implications of new technology, including batteries and electric cars, on the National Electricity Market, AEMO said EV use in Australia was unlikely to have any significant impact on the NEM in either the short or longterm, due to minimal uptake; which was, in turn, hindered by a lack of incentives for uptake, high cost, and several key consumer barriers.
“Based on initial assumptions and current market conditions, AEMO anticipates there will be negligible impact on the daily load profiles in each NEM region in the 20-year outlook period based on the estimated uptake of electric vehicles,” said AEMO managing director and CEO Matt Zema.
Based on this current level of uptake and the absence of any policy incentives, AEMO’s “medium scenario” forecasts that the uptake of EVs will continue to be small, with a projected 165,734 electric vehicles across the NEM in 2024–25, increasing to 524,775 in 2034–35.
Of the states, South Australia was expected to lead the nation in EV uptake, with 167,045 on the road by 2035. Victoria would the next biggest adopter, according to the report, with a projected 146,999 by 2035.
According to the report, only 1,909 electric vehicles were sold in Australia to 30 April 2015, while in 2014, EVs represented just 0.1 per cent of new vehicle sales.
“It’s challenging to forecast the impacts of these emerging technologies and trends given current limitations in scope, methodology and available data. However, like others in the industry, we’re interested in exploring the opportunities and challenges new technology presents for regulatory and operational frameworks,” Zema said.
AEMO said that previous studies estimating the uptake of EVs in Australia had been developed in the context of clean transport policy scenarios, so could not be directly translated to the current market – although they did demonstrate how policy could drive uptake, there report said.
The report notes that, unlike other consumer behaviour, EV uptake was not based on binary decision-making, in that consumers didn’t face a yes–no choice, and would be influenced by other factors outside the model, such as availability of public infrastructure.
With this in mind, AEMO decided not to model the predicted uptake of EVs in the NEM, but instead developed an EV User Tool to create alternative scenarios to that presented in the report.
AEMO says it will continue to monitor developments in the market and implement improvements in its modelling approach over time. This may include the development of an economic uptake model.
It says the impact of EVs on the daily load profile and maximum demand depends on how and when electric vehicles are charged – a factor that is likely to be influenced by the availability of public infrastructure, tariff structures, energy management systems, and driver routine.
The report does note, however, that any significant uptake of EVs within one region would have some impact on the grid at a local level, a scenario that AEMO was currently investigating.