The number of electric and hybrid cars is increasing rapidly: at the end of last year a total of 292,630 were driving around in the Netherlands, 43 percent more than the year before.

Ultimately, every car in the Netherlands - and there are now about 8.7 million - will be electric.

But at the moment our electricity grid can't handle that at all.

"If we don't adapt our electricity grid, you will see that the grid can no longer handle it at a certain point. Electricity demand is growing enormously due to, among other things, electric driving." In practice, grid operators can no longer help new customers and in extreme scenarios the power even goes out. That is what Amy van Groot Battavé tells us, who is conducting research at grid operator Stedin into how our grid can be prepared for the future.

Stedin will not let it get that far, Van Groot Battavé quickly adds.

The grid operator is working on all kinds of solutions to increase the capacity of the grid.

"We're making the net heavier in many places," she says.

"But we are also strongly committed to smarter. Think of it like a highway: it is getting busier, so we are building extra jobs, but we also try to spread the crowds as much as possible over the day with technology such as smart charging."

Maarten Steinbuch is a professor at Eindhoven University of Technology and knows exactly how much busier it will be on that electricity highway.

"If everyone starts driving electrically, we will need about 20 to 25 billion kilowatt hours of electricity extra per year."

That is roughly as much as the electricity that all Dutch households together consume per year.

“This is peanuts!”

Maarten Steinbuch, professor at Eindhoven University of Technology

That sounds like an enormous amount of electricity, but Steinbuch knows how to put it into perspective.

"This is peanuts!" he yells into the phone.

"We need just under 20 percent more electrical energy than we do now to be able to drive electrically throughout the Netherlands."

After all, the electricity that households consume is only a small part of the total.

"And in twenty years' time, the entire society must be electrified and we will therefore need at least twice as much electricity, of which only a small part goes to mobility."

He is clear about where that energy should come from: "From sun and wind. There is always a wind blowing somewhere."

A lot of charging stations are still needed

However, generating all that electricity is only one part of the task.

After all, the electricity still has to get into the cars.

There is still a lot of work to be done in that regard, says chairman of the Electric Drivers' Association Koos Burgman.

There are currently about 63,000 public charging stations in the Netherlands.

That is a lot compared to other European countries, but in order to be able to charge all cars in the future, according to Burgman we need "more than a million".

It is up to provinces and municipalities to ensure that there are enough charging stations.

That will be a tough task, expects Rico Luman, economist at the ING Economics Bureau.

According to him, the number of electric cars on the road is growing faster than expected, while the number of charging stations is slightly behind.

"You can see that in the number of electric cars per public charging station, which has increased over the past few years," he says.

He thinks that more charging points should be installed more quickly, so that there is always a charging station nearby and charging is no longer a barrier for people who want to switch to electric driving.

According to Burgman, then there is only one task left in the transition to electric driving.

"Not everyone is ready to drive electric yet," he says.

"The fear in people has to go."

Keywords: