Managing grid integration of electric vehicles


European transmission system operators consider electromobility as a “powerful resource” for decarbonisation and energy system flexibility.

As the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) gathers pace, a key issue for users in general and the power sector in particular is the suitability of the charging infrastructure.

As the interface between the worlds of transport and energy increases it is clearly crucial in the development of both in terms of providing the charging experience without impacting – and even benefitting – the power system.

While EVs connect to the distribution grid, their impacts also extend to the transmission grid with the TSOs and DSOs both users of flexibility.

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At the heart of the issue is the need for a managed charging process with smart charging and relevant vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, in order to enable the smoothing of demand peaks and EV users to benefit from lower charging energy costs.

In a new paper Europe’s TSO association ENTSO-E set out recommendations to avoid the risk of missing the multiple opportunities of smart charging and V2G.

These include promoting coordinated planning for charging infrastructure and the electric grid and deploying electromobility ‘enablers’ including private and public charging infrastructure equipped with metering and communication capabilities.

Underpinning this, common standards are needed to guarantee the interoperability of charging networks and data, as well as effective data management and the setting up of a value proposition for EV drivers.

TSO–DSO cooperation needs to be further enhanced to facilitate competition and maximise benefits by unlocking the potential of EV charging as a flexibility resource.

Market rules and the regulatory framework also need to be updated to implement grid tariff schemes to stimulate the further adoption of smart charging and enable a higher number of services offered by EVs and their participation in flexible markets.

ENTSO-E identifies the main opportunities provided by EV charging management as reshaping the power load curve, ancillary services for transmission grid operation, management of grid congestions, overload avoidance on distribution grids, voltage control on distribution grids, reduction of ‘over generation’ by renewables, behind-the-meter services for consumers and the advantage of hyper chargers for heavy duty vehicles.

Possibilities also exist for stacking some of these opportunities to maximise the benefits.

EV chargers in Europe

The ENTSO-E report comes propitiously as the European Court of Auditors has determined that the rollout of public EV charging infrastructure in the region is not occurring fast enough to meet the 1 million charge point target by 2025.

The auditors also found that the availability of public charging stations varies substantially between countries. Only four countries in Europe have more than 10 charge points per 100km2 of land area and more than half have less than 2 charge points per 100km2.

They also noted that payment systems are not harmonised and there is a lack of real-time information available to users.

The time for action is now, before mass EV deployment, to avoid the need of the future ‘retrofitting’ of non-smart chargers, says ENTSO-E.