Electric vehicles to have ‘negligible’ impact on grid, says AEMO – even in 2035

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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.


20 responses to “Electric vehicles to have ‘negligible’ impact on grid, says AEMO – even in 2035”

  1. Ian Avatar

    I wonder why the major electricity providers are not promoting the uptake of electric vehicles to help fill in the gap in demand provided by distributed solar and wind electricity.

    1. Roadtripper Avatar

      Origin did when the LEAF was first for sale three years ago. Their website listed a ChargePoint EVSE (the thing you plug the car into) for about $3000. You can get one elsewhere for about a half to a third of that price. It was like Nissan and Origin wanted the LEAF to fail. The prices were exorbitant and there was little promotion of it. Most of the owners I know are really happy with the car, they’re just a little bitter Nissan isn’t doing more to promote them here like they are with the rest of the world.

    2. caskings Avatar

      Keep an eye out for an interesting offer from AGL. My guess would be in the next six months or so.

      At least that is the impression I got from an AGL rep at a sustainabilty conference.

    3. JayJ Avatar

      Some are – check out Ergon’s page here:https://www.ergon.com.au/network/network-management/innovation

  2. Daniel Avatar

    AEMO’s expectation of no large EV penetration in the short or long term is essentially based on a static energy/vehicle environment. And it assumes, yes assumes, a growth rate that would result in no large penetration. AEMO does recognise that other outcomes are possible. Beyond an anodyne statement, it does not acknowledge that the environment will almost certainly change significantly. And there are large uncertainties in any forecast, not least for EV uptake regardless of assumptions. The causes of these uncertainties deserved discussion in AEMO’s report. Not only are they ignored but EV penetration forecasts are presented to the last vehicle, ignoring any uncertainty at all.

    1. Petra Liverani Avatar
      Petra Liverani

      My prediction is that by 2034-35 most vehicles will be EVs. I may be wrong but the low percentage AEMO’s predicting is just stupid. The only thing stopping EVs is price (the charging situation will resolve as people start buying EVs in numbers). The price is coming down and when it approaches ICE price, especially when there’s the inevitable upturn in oil price, they’ll take off. Also, as the size of batteries reduces, presumably the conversion option will become much more popular.

      … and there’s the driverless appeal – http://www.ted.com/talks/chris_urmson_how_a_driverless_car_sees_the_road

      … and with the advent of driverless vehicles and the fact that we need to reduce traffic, the whole model of car ownership will change. There will probably be a great reduction in car ownership replaced by shared cars and a network of driverless multi-passenger vehicles roaming around that people can get on and off as they please.

      … Using the Gompertz model (not that I’ve the remotest understanding of it), China predicted to have 600,000 EVs by 2020 – isn’t that going to dramatically affect the price and take up elsewhere?

      … and it seems like the Gompertz model is on track for 2015 (possibly even under). Sales of Chinese plug-in electric cars in China was over 10,000 in May (foreign cars sales not mentioned), a surge year-on-year of 192%; 19,000 plug-in vehicles were produced.

      … from an article today (30/6) https://reneweconomy.wpengine.com/2015/formula-e-can-overtake-formula-1-says-richard-branson-23114. Could Richard possibly know better than the AEMO?
      Branson said that he is “willing to bet” that 20 years from now no new vehicles will be made anywhere in the world that are not powered by an electric battery. “The current technology is antiquated and polluting and will disappear. Like other sectors, everything will be clean and companies that move quickest in that area are going to dominate the marketplace.”

      1. Alastair Leith Avatar
        Alastair Leith

        Plus there’s an assumption of no game changing (sorry for using that phrase) breakthroughs on storage and charging technologies, big assumption. What if breakthroughs with graphene super-capacitors and other power dense storage methods are made that allow for hybrid power plants combining Lithium Ion with another storage medium for occasional range extension plus a large super capacitor for ultra fast charging (and potentially very low cost raw inputs). Or nano-tech revolutionises battery fabrication and electrodes such that electron flow improves dramatically.

  3. Mike Ives Avatar
    Mike Ives

    Has anyone at Reneweconomy checked out the primary energy to build an EV battery? US EPA doc EPA-744-R-12-001 April 2013 advises depending on type of Li Ion battery the energy required is between 869 & 2500 MJ/kWh capacity. i.e very poor EROI and with Australian primary being over 90% fossil fuel this means a lot of GHG emissions which we can ill afford. Other batteries need much the same. Any solutions folks please?

    1. Roadtripper Avatar

      The Victorian government did an EV trial and one of their publications states that two years of renewable energy is needed to cover the carbon footprint of production an EV. I haven’t read all of it so I’m unsure about the payoff period when using coal (especially brown coal in VIC). Publications are here: http://economicdevelopment.vic.gov.au/transport/rail-and-roads/electric-vehicle-trial/electric-vehicle-publications

      1. Mike Ives Avatar
        Mike Ives

        Thanks for the reference Roadskipper. For info Victoria’s DTPLI fact sheet from the link indicates EV overall life cycle impact will be far less than current internal combustion engine cars.

    2. Bruce Avatar

      I can’t imagine Australia manufacturing batteries for EV’s . I would think it more likely we will import them rather like the EV’s themselves. If we look at Tesla for instance, it is intended that the production of their battery packs will be produced from renewal energy at their Gigafactory for example.

      1. Mike Ives Avatar
        Mike Ives

        Bruce, I can’t see anywhere so far that the Gigafactory will have renewable and/or nuclear supplied electricity. And the US still relies on fossil fuel to meet 81% of it’s energy. Can you enlighten me please?

        1. Bruce Avatar

          I’m going by what Tesla has shown by this video for example. Shows Wind Towers and Solar roof for Gigafactory 1.

          1. Mike Ives Avatar
            Mike Ives

            That’s good to know thanks Bruce.

    3. Michael Rynn Avatar
      Michael Rynn

      Need to use a lot of clean energy to get minerals to make batteries, or any other industrial hi-tech product. To have that much clean energy, need a lot of minerals. No sure there is enough net energy to go around, for supply at high demand rate. According to “Extracted” by Ugo Bardi, cheapest sources of lithium are brine deposits. Major suppliers are Chile, Australia, China and Argentina. Being dumb Australia, despite having loads of clean energy resources, unlikely we will manufacture, but just ship raw material. There is a lot of it around, but good quality large sized deposits are hard to find. The problem is too many people to support at once, and unable to meet exponential growth in supply requirements. There is always the bicycle.

  4. David K Clarke Avatar
    David K Clarke

    Predicting the future of any technology is very risky and unreliable. My guess is that the AEMO has greatly underestimated the penetration of electrical vehicles.

    1. Marley Avatar

      I agree David, in fact I would predict that in 20 years more than half of all passenger cars are full EVs, thats 7-8 million cars, still will only have a 10-15% effect on the grid though depending on how many people charge from home produced electricity.

      1. Mike Dill Avatar
        Mike Dill

        My guess was going to be a half million BEV’s by 2022, which is where they think we will be in 2035. It will only be import costs keeping the numbers low.

  5. JayJ Avatar

    I would love one to replace my old petrol guzzling 6 cylinder but I can’t justify the high cost for the short distances I travel…it all comes down to cost & public charging access points

  6. Michael Rynn Avatar
    Michael Rynn

    And so they wish. It is hard to tell the difference between wishes and predictions these days. Just pick your assumptions. With massive uptake of PV, perhaps the grid load from EV charging will not matter anyway. Everyone one will be keen to store energy while the sun shines.

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