SSEN releases E-tourism to help prepare for tourism in a net zero world

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks’ (SSEN) has today published the findings from its project E-Tourism, revealing tourists’ electric vehicles (EVs) could cause a ten-fold increase in demand on the electricity network in some of Scotland’s most popular destinations.

While much of the existing research around EVs has focused on commuter journeys, SSENsought to examine the potential impacts of EV tourist travel on local network infrastructure and consider solutions for preparing the network in and around popular destinations and routes in northern Scotland. 

­The project revealed that tourist destinations in northern Scotland could experience a ten-fold increase in electricity demand from electric vehicles (EV) compared to other times during the year.

E-tourism focused on the years 2028 and 2032 for eight destinations and travel routes, including Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle and Isle of Skye. For each of these locations, tourist numbers and travel behavior were forecasted in order to predict EV charging demand throughout both years and inform the testing of cost-effective solutions.

E-tourism forecasted significant increases in electricity demand from EVs over the summer months in 2032, which would have to be prepared for through network reinforcement or implementing smart solutions. 

For several of the destinations examined in 2032, peak electricity demand from EVs in the summer was several times more, sometimes up to a ten-fold increase, than the peak winter demand. The increased electricity demand from EVs was also forecasted to result in several locations likely experiencing network constraints in 2028 and many experiencing lengthier and more severe constraints in 2032 if no action is taken. 

SSEN will now work with local communities and business groups to advance solutions to address potential network constraints, such as expanding network capacity, implementing a ‘park, charge and ride’, portable charging facilities, or delivering innovative local flexible solutions. The learnings from E-tourism will also be shared with other tourist hotspots across the UK to prepare for a cost-effective transition to net zero and ensure EV infrastructure is tourist-ready.

Colin Nicol, Managing Director for SSEN said:

“The transition to net zero poses exciting opportunities and challenges for SSEN. We are committed to supporting Scotland in realising this critical target in a cost-effective manner for the communities we serve.

“One of the challenges is preparing for EVs and the impact of fluctuating populations and demand on our network. SSEN and other DNOs are working to understand how shifting demand on the electricity network can be managed and met in a cost-effective manner.

“We are undertaking this work today to ensure local communities remain resilient and are prepared for the future. By supporting the creation of EV-ready tourist areas we are providing solutions to improve network resilience, reassurance to local communities and EV drivers, and creating benefits for local communities.”

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:

“I welcome this vital analysis from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks as part of the wider work underway through our EV strategic Partnership.

“For the benefits that EVs can bring to drivers and the environment, the shift to zero emission vehicles is an inevitability.  The task now is to ensure that Scotland is well positioned to meet the demands on our electricity networks and to maximise the economic opportunities afforded by the transition to a net-zero economy.

“We’ve invested over £30 million in ChargePlace Scotland which now has almost 1500 publicly available charge points and have provided financial support to install over 3,500 domestic and 400 workplace charge points. Using a case study approach, the E-Tourism project is helping us to understand the potential impact that seasonal EV tourism might have on local electricity networks, in both rural and urban areas, and to identify innovative and cost-effective solutions to manage this.”

E-tourism is part of the £7.5m strategic EV Partnership that was set up between the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, SSEN and Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN) which seeks to ensure a smooth journey for EV users through the transition to a net zero economy. To learn more, click here.

E-tourism: charging demand by electric vehicles in Scottish tourist hotspots assesses charging demand for 2028 and 2032 in eight locations and transport routes across Scotland and seeks to inform cost-effective solutions for meeting the demand.