Will NZ's infrastructure crash and burn as we convert to electric vehicles?
New Zealand is a known advocate for the uptake electric vehicles (EVs) and the government is constantly working on legislation to make the uptake of this technology easier.
The government has set a goal of 64,000 EVs on New Zealand roads by the end of 2021.
Though this conversion would have incredible benefits, there are still some challenges we have to overcome in order to make a future driven by electric vehicles possible.
If our transportation sector is primarily made up of EVs, Kiwis will be consuming exponentially more power on a daily basis, putting a strain on the electricity grid.
Accenture strategy believes that if this problem is tackled preemptively it could pose an incredible opportunity for the utility sector while creating the stable grid for EVs.
The issue is most utilities are just beginning to formulate an integrated PEV strategy.
According to Accenture Consulting research, 40% of consumers would consider an electric vehicle for their next car.
If all of those consumers purchased and drove electric vehicles, the load on the grid would increase by 5 to 10%.
The impacts in specific areas could be much more dramatic due to localised adoption.
Normal PEV charging behaviours will put this extra load on the grid at peak times when the grid is already at capacity.
Too few utilities are offering ‘smart’ EV infrastructure and programs, relying instead on more traditional unmanaged charging infrastructure.
Another issue is that the majority of companies in the utility sector don’t offer users fast enough charging speeds for their EVs
Despite this, 42% of consumers are willing to work with their energy provider to manage when they charge their vehicle, with time-varying rates.
The research also found that 69% of consumers are interested in home energy management programs.
Utilities have not historically moved quickly in response to new technologies, however, for EV programs to succeed in NZ these companies will have to up their game.
Utilities must also consider accessibility, responding in a digitally-enabled manner would help consumers manage and track their strain on the grid.
EVs are coming to NZ regardless of whether we are prepared or not, but the time has come for companies to start being proactive.
As well as privately owned EVs commercial Evs are also coming, with bigger batteries and longer charging times it is important to take these into consideration as well.
The first electric buses will be hitting Wellington streets next year, once the concept has been proven there you can expect to see electric buses and trucks all over NZ.