With global electric vehicle (EV) sales on the rise, policymakers around the world are accelerating efforts to facilitate development of the necessary charging infrastructure and to integrate EVs into the power system at least cost. Turkey is just starting down this path, with around 1,000 electric vehicles on the road. However, as the population grows and car ownership increases, the considerable potential to reap the benefits electric vehicles offer grows in parallel. EVs can help reduce air pollution and, provided the electricity is supplied from renewable energy sources, help decarbonise both the transport and power sectors.

Integrating EVs into the power system can be a daunting task. Uncontrolled charging of large numbers of vehicles can have negative impacts on distribution grid operation, creating the need for unnecessary network expansion. SHURA Energy Transition Center, in collaboration with Epra Engineering, Procurement, Research and Analysis and the Regulatory Assistance Project, has released a groundbreaking report demonstrating how high levels of electric vehicles can be successfully integrated into Turkey’s distribution grid.

Epra modelled grid data in four representative “first mover” regions — the Aegean, Central Anatolia, Marmara and Mediterranean regions of Turkey — to develop a scenario for up to 2.5 million EVs by 2030. The authors conclude that the vehicles can be integrated into Turkey’s distribution grid with almost no additional investments and with only limited impact on distribution grid operation. Our findings suggest that Turkey’s grid is already well prepared to accommodate growing road transport electrification without increasing levels of grid investment.

To achieve this goal, policymakers, the market regulator, distribution grid companies, the automotive industry, charging infrastructure developers and investors, urban planners and academia must work in close concert. It will be critical to capitalise on the benefits of distributed renewable energy and storage systems, particularly in summer. Policies to promote smart charging of EVs will play a pivotal role by harnessing the benefits of intelligent technology, incentivising owners to charge their cars during off-peak hours, and distributing charging points to locations that are optimal for consumers and for use of existing grid infrastructure.

This study led by SHURA also has wider implications for global EV integration, highlighting the importance for governments in countries with low EV uptake to prepare for transport electrification by assessing its grid integration at the same time. Where car ownership and population numbers are increasing, integrated transport and energy planning can unlock their benefits for both sectors, reduce emissions and pollution, boost integration of renewable energy sources, lower costs and increase the flexibility of the power system.