May 15, 2019 / 11:45 AM / 5 days ago

French grid operator able to handle sharp electric vehicle rise

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s electricity grid will be able to cope with a sharp increase in demand from electric vehicles by 2035, its operator RTE said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Francois Brottes, Chief Executive Officer of French grid operator RTE, attends an interview with Reuters at the company's headquarters at La Defense, near Paris, October 17, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/File Photo

France has around 223,000 electric vehicles on its roads and like some other European countries plans to end the sale of diesel and gasoline vehicles by 2040 as part of efforts to curb pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

“For us, the development of electric vehicles is a real opportunity for the electricity system. It could constitute an important volume for power storage of around 40 gigawatts,” RTE President Francois Brottes told journalists.

Brottes’ prediction is based on the most ambitious growth scenario which forecasts there will be 15.6 million electric vehicles on French roads by 2035. These could be used to store electricity when not in use.

Demand from this number of electric vehicles would not exceed 48 terrawatt hour (TWh) per year, or around 10 percent of current demand, an RTE study found.

Remote management systems could be used to pilot the recharging of vehicles using renewable energy during the most cost effective period of the day because 95% of the time vehicles are stationary, Brottes said.

France’s long-term energy plan known as the PPE is forecasting around 15.6 million electric vehicles by 2035, around 40 percent of all vehicles on the road now.

RTE said heavy traffic periods, such as school holidays, departures for weekends and holidays, when vehicles would need to be recharged, were not a cause for concern.

“Peak electricity consumption in the evening can, in turn, be mitigated through the implementation of simple management solutions,” the study said.

RTE said the cost of running an electric vehicle could be three times lower than that of a diesel or gasoline car, which would cut pollution from the transport sector which makes up around 45% of total French carbon dioxide emissions.

Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Alexander Smith

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