Electric vehicles (EVs) hold the key to unleash synergies between clean transport and low-carbon electricity. Just as future transport must be increasingly electrified, future power systems must make maximum use of variable renewable energy sources. Smart charging for EVs minimises their load impact and unlocks the flexibility to use more solar and wind power. This outlook from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows how policy and technological breakthroughs can advance the development of this key enabling technology for renewables. Through smart charging, EV batteries can help to integrate high shares of solar and wind power into existing grids, as battery storage capacity helps to even out the variability of these sources. IRENA’s Renewable Energy Innovation Outlook series analyses emerging developments that are making renewable energy technologies (RETs) increasingly effective and competitive in the world’s energy systems. Each outlook identifies technology-, industry- and policy-related challenges to be overcome and assesses the research needed to scale-up renewable-based solutions.