Electric cars are a huge market for the UK, with the country generating more than 30% of its electricity from them.
And it’s getting cheaper and cheaper for manufacturers to make these new, high-speed, zero-emissions vehicles.
In the UK alone, the number of EVs on the road is expected to triple over the next 10 years, and by 2040, the country’s EVs will be on a par with those in the US.
But how can you build a super-high-voltages electric plant?
We’ve got a guide.
Build it yourself.
The UK government has set a target of producing 2 gigawatts of electricity by 2030 from a single new plant.
It’s a lofty goal, but it’s achievable thanks to the UK’s ambitious Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, which is aiming to cut its carbon emissions by 40% by 2050.
“There are a lot of reasons why the Renewable Energy Obligation is a good thing,” says Caroline Phelan, senior policy officer at Greenpeace UK.
Phelan says it’s important to realise that the Renewables Obligations are not just about climate change mitigation, but about building the capacity to produce energy, too.
“We need to be thinking about the infrastructure that will support this transition,” she says.
In order to achieve this, the government has developed a programme called the RHI, or renewable energy finance initiative.
Its aim is to finance new wind, solar and other renewable energy plants across the country.
That means companies have to invest heavily in building new wind farms and solar arrays, as well as installing new generation infrastructure to produce electricity.
If they fail to do this, then they risk losing the RHE, which the government uses to finance the purchase of electricity from renewable sources.
And that could be a big deal for UK manufacturers, who have historically relied heavily on imported electricity.
“It’s really hard for them to compete in a market that is so cheap,” says Peter Smith, managing director of energy business at energy consultancy IHS.
For example, most wind farms in the UK have to be built on a former nuclear power station, so a big part of their energy comes from imported electricity, he adds.
“So you’ve got the nuclear power plant in Somerset, which has to be upgraded and then you’ve also got to build the solar array, which costs around £30m,” he says.
The UK has had a major problem with imported power since the 1980s, when it lost its reliance on imported coal, according to Smith.
But now that the price of coal has plummeted, many companies have begun to look at renewable energy sources.
According to a recent report by the RWE Institute, in the next five years the UK will need to add more than 200 gigawatts to its electricity production.
With that kind of investment, Smith says it will be easier for UK-based manufacturers to compete against companies in countries like China and India.
“If they can go and build these projects overseas, then you can compete in that market, whereas if you can’t, then it’s harder for you to get your products to market,” he explains.
But the biggest challenge is the fact that the renewable energy incentives are not always enough.
Despite the government’s ambitious target, Smith argues that the incentives are often insufficient to attract the investments that manufacturers need to develop a new plant, and the UK has some of the highest carbon emissions in the world.
What’s more, he says, there’s not a huge amount of infrastructure to support a super high-power-generation plant.
“There’s a huge need for some sort of transport infrastructure,” he tells us.
“You have to transport the fuel and then it has to go through the power grid, which takes quite a long time, so it’s not that easy.”
The only way to get this sort of plant built is through a government-led scheme called the Renewal Infrastructure Bank, which aims to build up an infrastructure network for renewable energy projects across the UK.
That’s a project Smith says has already started to pay dividends.
He estimates that the bank has already built around 15 projects worth around £150m worth of electricity.
That’s the equivalent of about 2% of the country building its entire power system.
However, the bank is currently only looking at a small part of the UK – and there are still many unanswered questions about how it will all come together.
A more ambitious scheme called Project One aims to help companies invest in a new generation of plants, which would use new technology to make the plants bigger, stronger and more efficient.
Project One also looks at whether these projects could help the UK build up its domestic capacity, or if it could rely on imports to build its power grid.
“I think that we have a bit of a learning curve with Project One, because it’s