Plans to end the sale of all diesel and petrol cars by 2040 started to unravel today as it emerged 10,000 wind turbines or 10 nuclear power stations would need to be built to power their electric replacements.
National Grid, which manages the UK’s power supply, said in a report that peak demand for electricity could increase by 50 per cent if and when the nation switches to electric vehicles.
Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary who formally announced his plan to ban the sale of cars with internal combustion engines, hinted that wind farms or nuclear power stations are the only clean energy sources that the Government will consider to bridge the looming energy gap.
But the 269-page air quality plan that his department published – which sets out how it will bring down emissions – contained no details of how the extra electricity needed to charge the national fleet of 26 million cars will be generated, or how much it will cost.
Richard Harrington, the energy minister, said he was “certainly planning for a significant increase in demand” but could not be more specific about how Britain will generate up to 30 gigawatts of extra power on top of the 61GW currently needed at peak periods.
Meanwhile diesel drivers must brace themselves for a potential tax hike in the autumn budget as the air quality plan said it “will continue to explore the appropriate tax treatment for diesel vehicles…ahead of making any tax changes at Autumn Budget 2017”
National Grid’s estimate of up to 30GW more power being needed to charge electric vehicles would mean that 10,000 wind turbines, which each generate 2-3 megawatts of electricity, would have to be erected. There are currently around 7,600 wind turbines in the UK.
Alternatively, the extra power could be generated by building 10 more nuclear power stations like the new generation reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset, at a cost likely to exceed £200 billion.