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03 December 2019 10 min read

The impact of electric vehicles on Belgium's electricity networks

Electrification of transport: Baringa supports Synergrid to assess the impact of EVs on Belgium’s electricity networks

The ongoing climate emergency has focused the minds of policy makers on decarbonisation of transport. Currently, the pressure on carmakers is intense, as they stand to pay billions of Euros in penalties if they fail to meet EU emission reductions targets. However, success in decarbonising transport will require many sectors (including automotive, electricity, gas, IT and buildings) to come together and take coordinated initiative. Specifically, there is a need for significant investments in charging infrastructure, intelligent approaches of managing charging that avoid costly grid upgrades, and clear and attractive propositions to customers across all segments.

Synergrid, the Federation of Belgian Electricity and Gas Network Companies, has commissioned Baringa Partners and Transport & Mobility Leuven (TML) to lead a study on the future impact of Electric Vehicles (EVs) on the Belgian electricity grids. The goal of this study is to project the potential grid impact resulting from an increase in uptake of EVs under different scenarios.

For this landmark study, Baringa simulated the impact of EV charging on ~450,000 low voltage feeders, ~70,000 secondary substations and 726 primary substations, covering virtually the entire Belgian distribution network. Baringa coordinated an EV working group, which consisted of delegates of Synergrid and all main Belgian network operators (Elia, Ores, Fluvius, Sibelga and Resa) to develop a common set of assumptions, providing the foundations for this study.

Baringa Partners’ EV Grid Impact Model (read more about the model at the end of the article), assesses the impact of different numbers of EVs on the grid, while distinguishing various charging behaviours. The analysis shows that the Belgian electricity grid is relatively resilient and can accommodate up to 1.5 million EVs without widespread overload of local networks. Beyond that, the impact could increase significantly, depending on future charging behaviours, which Baringa assessed using a High and Low Impact scenario.

In the ‘High Impact’ scenario, most drivers charge their EV when they arrive home from work, meaning EV load is concentrated around 6-7 p.m. and in residential areas. This results in up to 30% grid overload, unless smart charging schemes help postponing charging sessions and thereby spreading out EV load. In the ‘Low Impact’ scenario, most company cars and half of personal cars charge at work, on the road or at destination, and the remaining home charging happens at slower speeds, resulting in significantly lower grid overload.

Share of the Belgian distribution grid overloaded due to EV charging (2018-2050)


Oliver Rix, Partner, Baringa Energy Markets & Analytics said, "We are proud to have been Synergrid’s partner in this landmark study, which provides Belgian grid companies, with evidence to plan for the mass deployment of EVs. With uptake accelerating, it is increasingly important for grids in all countries to be prepared.”

Monne Depraetere, Manager, Baringa Energy Markets & Analytics said, “For the first time, network operators have a comprehensive view on the future impact of EV charging on the entire Belgian low and medium voltage grid. The close collaboration between Baringa and Synergrid produced robust analysis that helps prepare the Belgian network for EVs.”

Bruno Gouverneur, Deputy Secretary General at Synergrid, said, “The message from this study is clear: although the Belgian networks are relatively resilient to the expected strong growth of EVs, plans need to be worked out to keep their impact under control in the medium to long term. The Baringa team have brought professionalism and tremendous subject matter expertise to the project, and we have enjoyed this collaboration.”

Baringa's EV Grid Impact Model 

Baringa’s EV Grid Impact Model assesses how EV charging will affect the electricity grid. Starting from a national projection of the number of EVs (1), we develop projections of the number of EVs at a neighbourhood level (2) and estimate the location of each charging EV on the electricity grid (3). The model then calculates the peak load on individual grid elements using Monte Carlo techniques that simulate different driving and charging behaviours (4) and simulates several smart charging schemes to assess their effectiveness in minimising grid overload and upgrade costs (5).


Factfile Belgium 1)

  • Population: 11 million
  • Passenger cars: 5.9 million (Aug ‘19)
  • EVs: 15,000 fully electric, 111,000 plug-in hybrid (Aug ‘19)
  • Public charging points: ~3,000 (March ’19)
  • Total length electricity grid: 213,000 km (transmission & distribution)
  • National peak electricity demand: 13 GW
  1. Sources: Statbel (population, passenger cars & EV stats), Synergrid (grid length), Elia (electricity demand), Avere (charging points)

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