Friday, November 25, 2022
Until recently, conventional wisdom said that the power grids in the U.S. and Europe have plenty of capacity to meet the anticipated demand increase from electric vehicle (EV) charging.
Once EVs are being used in large scale, however, experience in countries, such as the Nordics and the Netherlands, shows that EV charging has a major impact on the grid. Today’s U.S. grid is not ready for shifting the transportation energy that is now consumed in gas stations to homes and workplaces.
The good news is the EV-charging ecosystem is smart, resilient and even bi-directional. Its many technological advances can better balance energy demand, reduce the investment that will be required in power generation and even help increase the use of renewables.
One of the major challenges with renewables is balancing the generation and demand. Energy-storage technology, that EV charging provides, is needed to shift the time between the generation and consumption of energy.
Business leaders, policymakers, power engineers and electrical system architects planning the evolution of the grid and the EV charging system—from EV charging operators, municipalities and site owners to utilities—will have to keep these new concepts in mind as they evaluate everything from peak generation demand to delivery.
The impact of the fundamental shift from going somewhere to buy gas to “filling up” with electricity at home at night or while at work changes everything. Experience shows that 80% of charging will be done at home/work while only 3% of charging sessions will be done at gas stations. This introduces major challenges to the grid on the one hand. On the other, it creates opportunities to shift demand and balance the grid. It is no longer realistic for utilities and their planners to simply build for potential-maximum demand.
Smart energy management
Smart energy management is a power-optimization tool or type of load-balancer for EV charging infrastructures that can automatically shift charging loads based on demand to ensure that the right amount of energy gets to the right power consumer at the right time and cost.
Bridging the gap between demand and response requires the ability to store power. That means adding local battery storage is a must for engineers planning the future. Many sites were not planned for EV charging, but batteries can fill the gap by storing energy when there is more power available, like at night, and using it when the grid can’t support the demand from EVs.
But the storage opportunity doesn’t end there.
The mass deployment of EV charging creates a large network of batteries that becomes a form of local storage. Combined with smart-energy-management systems, this presents a game-changing potential to balance the grid, reduce carbon emissions and increase the use of renewables.
There is a lot of flexibility in timing EV charging and a great capacity to give energy back without impacting drivers.
Enter vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.
V2G enables the EV to send energy back into the grid without compromising the driver’s travel requirements. Since a full battery may deliver 250 miles, and the average U.S. resident drives 29 miles a day, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation, a world full of EVs have a lot of stored energy to give back to the grid at peak demand, not just take from it.
EVs complement renewables
Smart energy management, local storage and EV batteries themselves can all help increase the use of renewables. Fluctuating energy production from solar and wind can be used or stored when available and sent back to the grid when needed. While many analysts naively focus on what EVs might require en masse, few are looking deeper at the specifics and timing of demand and what EVs can contribute to better optimize power generation and renewables.
As a leader in EV charging and smart energy management, Driivz has helped many global industry players facilitate EV charging and realize the strategies presented here. Driivz’s customer base includes Volvo Group, EVgo, Centrica, Gilbarco Veeder-Root, ESB, ElaadNL, CEZ, Mer, MOL Group, Arrival, OBE Power, eMobility Power and COPEC.
Shell works to accelerate build out
Most recently, Shell selected the Driivz EV charging and smart energy management platform to help accelerate the build out of new charging locations in more than 10 European countries, supporting Shell’s ambition to operate over 500,000 charge points globally by 2025 and 2,500,000 by 2030.
This is a most exciting time for engineers and leaders tasked with plotting the new course into an EV-dominated world. EVs and the charging ecosystem change the game forever, significantly increasing the planning complexity for engineers.
Despite many naysayers fixated in poorly calculated extreme energy demands, these measures described here can not only help usher in the mass market of EVs but also play a role in realizing the goal of lowering carbon emissions globally—saving the planet.
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