Switching all cars in the UK to electric would drain the National Grid of nearly a fifth of its capacity unless the equivalent of another six new nuclear power stations are built, claims a report. The Royal Academy of Engineering said that to convert the country's fleet of 30 million vehicles would increase current demand by 16% or an extra 10 gigawatts of power. With the 70 GW grid currently running at near full capacity that would mean building the equivalent of six large nuclear power stations or 2,000 wind turbines to meet demand. It would also mean that it will have to be controlled by a 'smart grid' of millions of charging points in order to deal with increase and wild fluctuations in demand. The findings came from the academy's latest report titled 'Electric Vehicles: charged with potential' which outlines what needs to be done if cars are to go green. "Swapping gas guzzlers for electric vehicles will not solve our carbon emissions problem on its own," says Professor Roger Kemp of Lancaster University, Chair of the Academy's Electric Vehicles working group. "When most electricity in Britain is still generated by burning gas and coal, the difference between an electric car and a small, low-emission petrol or diesel car is negligible. We welcome the fact that the motor manufacturers are so ready to take on the challenge of developing mass market electric vehicles. We also welcome the new Government's commitment to mandating charging sockets for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, but establishing these as the technology of choice for personal transport is only one aspect of what is needed to reduce transport emissions." The current contribution of renewable and low-carbon generation to the UK's energy supply is one of the lowest in Europe, the report points out. If the UK is to meet its renewables targets and ensure a greener power supply to electric cars, a range of new low-carbon energy sources will be needed, including new nuclear power stations, wind farms and tidal barrages. As the Academy recognised in its recent report 'Generating the future: UK energy systems fit for 2050', creating this new energy system will require a massive change programme and robust leadership by Government. There are three interrelated policy programmes that are critical to the successful introduction of electric vehicles: low-carbon energy, universal broadband provision and smart electricity grids. The report says that electric vehicles can only have a serious impact on carbon emissions if these three areas of policy are already in place. "Delivering all four programmes will be more challenging than any other engineering project of the last century. We have a unique opportunity just now to ensure that all the policies work together and to recognise the critical links between them," says Professor Kemp. "For example, recent discussions on introducing smart meters to every household did not include the functionality required to manage electric vehicle charging, which could render the first generation of smart meters obsolete as the electric vehicle market grows."