Germany’s power grid able to handle 1 million electric vehicles


Klaus-Dieter Maubach,
Member E.ON AG
Board of Management
Berlin, Germany — (METERING.COM) — December 1, 2010 – Germany’s utility industry believes that the federal government’s objective of having roughly 1 million electric vehicles on the country’s roads by 2020 would not pose any problems for the electricity grid.

This is among the findings of the interim report of the National Electromobility Platform’s “Charging Infrastructure and Network Integration Working Group,” which was submitted to the German federal government yesterday.

Other findings were that smart meters would make it possible to charge the vehicles’ batteries at times when renewables output exceeds system demand, such as on windy nights, and the vehicles could be powered by green electricity owing to planned increases in the country’s renewables capacity.

The members of the working group expect rapid advances in charging technology. By 2020, cable-free inductive charging and higher voltage direct current charging will make charging faster and more convenient. This would make e-mobility more attractive to motorists and increase its applications.

The volume of data exchanged between a vehicle and the network can be gradually expanded going forward. Because a smart charging infrastructure will not be necessary until a certain number of vehicles are on the road, deploying this infrastructure is a medium term objective. The charging infrastructure installed now should be capable of being retrofitted with smart technology so that it can later be integrated in a smart grid.
Integrating up to 1 million electric cars by 2020 will generally not be problem for the power grid. Only in cases of a locally high density of electric cars could isolated segments of the grid be overloaded and possibly require upgrading. Nevertheless, the addition of new load (like electric vehicles) and especially the growth of intermittent generation resources (like renewables) are fundamentally transforming the energy system. Today’s infrastructure can only support this transformation to a limited degree and the working group recommends the necessary investments for a smart grid should be factored into Germany’s incentive-based network regulation scheme.

The government’s target number of electric cars could easily be powered by renewable source electricity. One million electric cars would consume at most 2 billion kWh of electricity a year. According to current forecasts of renewables growth, Germany will produce significantly more than 100 billion kWh off green electricity in 2020 – theoretically enough to supply 50 million electric vehicles.

The working group is co-chaired by Klaus-Dieter Maubach, a member of the E.ON AG Board of Management, and Wolfgang Dehen, a member of the Siemens AG Managing Board and CEO of Siemens Energy Sector.