The growing energy demand for electric vehicle (EV) charging could lead to greater instability in electrical grids unless utilities take a proactive approach to planning their future networks, according to a joint study from L.E.K. Consulting, a global management consulting firm, and Australian EV charging infrastructure company Tritium.
The study highlights a clustering effect in which a higher proportion of EV ownership in certain locations has the potential to overload local electricity infrastructure, particularly the feeder lines into a street or other location.
“There are significant opportunities for network owners, operators and energy retailers, as EVs are one of the few growth drivers for many developed energy markets, and also enable the opportunity for utilities to build closer customer relationships,” said Natasha Santha, principal at L.E.K. Consulting.
“But utilities need to be proactive in planning for a future scenario of significant EV adoption, especially in a world where spending capex on additional infrastructure at the cost of the consumer is no longer a palatable response.
“The real challenge for utilities is managing peak demand increase and the greater unpredictability that comes with greater EV adoption. EV charging has an element of randomness that needs to be managed; this can stress local infrastructure and heighten the need for increased network investment.”
Among other findings, “Preparing the Grid for the Uptake of Electric Vehicles” found that:
Top five measures utilities can take to accommodate and profit from the EV future
The study outlines five measures utilities should consider taking to stabilize future grid behavior and ensure EV adoption maintains its pace.
1. Design tariffs and demand response programs. Utilities need to begin preparing incentive structures to manage residential chargers, such as time-of-use EV tariffs that can shift customer charging behavior. They could glean lessons from South Australian and Queensland networks, which are piloting new tariffs to encourage households to use electric hot water systems in off-peak periods.
2. Utilize smart software. Managed charging software schedules home charging throughout the night, averting the risk of EV owners all plugging in at once during evening peak demand. These solutions use lessons from such measures as air conditioning incentive programs.
3. Improve grid information. Provide clear, detailed information to businesses and entrepreneurs looking to invest in and install public charging infrastructure. For example, PG&E has an interactive mapping tool that shows the locations on its network where existing equipment has the capacity for EV charging.
4. Assess adjacent opportunities. Utilities should begin to explore other opportunities arising from the deployment of charging infrastructure, such as stationary battery storage, that would reduce grid augmentation costs and enable charger deployment in areas of the network that would otherwise be prohibitive.
5. Trial, test and work with charging manufacturers. Collaboration and joint research will enable utilities to be at the forefront of emerging vehicle, charging and grid integration technologies.
“Across the world, we’re beginning to see measures that will only further foster the uptake of EVs, such as in Madrid, where most gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars have been banned from driving in the city’s central streets during the day and are required to park in car parks, off the road,” said David Finn, CEO and co-founder, Tritium. “Governments all over the world are seeing the benefits of an e-mobility future and utilities have a tremendous opportunity to drive growth in their businesses, but they have to be prepared for it. That means putting the right infrastructure in place to manage an increase in energy demand.”
L.E.K. Consulting | http://www.lek.com
Tritium | http://www.tritium.com