Image: Enedis

The pilots demonstrated that managed charging will enable electric vehicles to participate in the distribution network in the medium term.

Early studies by the French distribution company Enedis indicated that electric vehicles (EVs) could be readily integrated into the country’s distribution system without major impacts at either the local or national level. The challenge, however, is in optimising their large scale integration with managed charging and enabling their participation as flexibility resources.

EVs are fast growing in France with sustained growth, even during the current year with nearly 70,000 units sold during the first half of 2020 – twice as many as in the same period in 2019. Today, there are nearly 30,000 charging stations open to the public, directly or indirectly connected to the public distribution network.

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Enedis found in its testing that with managed charging when electricity prices were lowest, EV drivers could save up to €90/year ($110) compared with uncontrolled charging for a Renault Zoe type city car.

With the use of self-generated electricity, the savings could rise to €300/year ($360), depending on the user profile and the type of vehicle.

Beyond the personal benefits, at a community level control of the load limits the total power required from the grid for EVs. At a system level synchronising charging with renewable generation production supports the greening of EVs and promotes self-generation and new uses of electricity.

Moreover, with large numbers of EVs their load can be aggregated as a local flexibility resource for the grid, which will enable the deferment of upgrades and containment of electricity prices.

Enedis’s managed charging involves three forms of optimisation – managing the time of charging to benefit from lower prices and offers from suppliers, managing the power of the recharge to reduce the demand from the grid and for owners with solar PV managing the use of the self generated power to charge with excess solar during the day.

Enedis anticipates the flexibility value of EVs to range from a few tens of euros up to €200 per year.

Enedis says that as the distribution operator for the majority of France’s network, the company has a key role in emobility with the deployment of EVs and the charging infrastructure. Enedis itself claims the second largest EV fleet in France, with more than 3,000 vehicles, and is involved in the development of smart charging solutions.