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UK's national grid 'ready' for e-car expansion

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'Leccy Tech A new study claims to show that if three million of us went out tomorrow and bought plug-in electric cars, the UK's national grid could support our charging needs without missing a beat.

The report was carried out by a consortium called the Range Extended Hybrid Electric Vehicle (REHEV) project, led by Jaguar-Land Rover and part-funded by the government through the Technology Strategy Board. The REHEV also includes engineering concern Ricardo, power company E.ON and battery developer Amberjac Projects.

The report modelled four different vehicle fleet charging scenarios: uncontrolled domestic charging, uncontrolled off-peak domestic charging, 'smart' domestic charging and uncontrolled public charging throughout the day - commuters who recharge their vehicles while at work, for example.

Assuming e-cars made up ten per cent of the UK vehicle fleet – that's around three million cars and vans – REHEV reckons we would be looking at a peak demand increase of around two per cent or approximately 1GW. And that's the worst case scenario with us all plugging in our e-cars willy-nilly – other, more controlled scenarios apparently placed even less strain on the grid.

The report goes on to say that the local charging infrastructure will need to be developed and upgraded but since those speculative three million vehicles aren't going to show up in the immediate future that shouldn't be an issue.

"While the provision of publicly accessible street-level infrastructure in the form of recharging points remains a challenge, the research findings show that existing UK power grid capacity will be sufficient in the medium term to support a significant expansion of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle use and is therefore not a constraint on implementation," said Neville Jackson, Ricardo's technology chief and recently appointed chairman of industry body the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership.

So does Jaguar's involvement with the REHEV report indicate that claims that a plug-in hybrid version of the new XJ is on its way are actually true? The timing is certainly right with the new XJ due to be launched in London on 9 July. ®

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