ZEV Alliance says solutions to offset demand go beyond infrastructure, require consumers to shift behaviour — so sound policy is essential
Smart charging has the potential to save electricity providers and consumers billions of dollars by offsetting power demands from the coming EV boom — but it will only be achieved by synchronizing communication channels and consumption habits of electric vehicle users and electrical grid stakeholders.
This is a key finding in “Implementing Open Smart Charging,” a new report compiled for the International Zero-Emissions Vehicle Alliance by Element Energy, an environmental economics think tank out of the United Kingdom.
“Effective smart charging requires unprecedented coordination of multiple stakeholders across the power system and automotive sectors,” the report reads in part.
“Smart charging needs to be deployed rapidly, but there will be continued innovation in how smart charging is provided.”
The paper highlights the “inherently flexible” nature of EV charging, opportunities to improve data sharing and communication and better utilize renewable energy sources.
The problem is summarized simply: “Passive (or unmanaged) charging describes an EV which charges at the maximum power available as soon as it’s plugged in…. Instead, smart charging can be employed to shift charging load in response to the needs of the power system.”
Grid overload is a concern for utilities around the world as the market shifts with increasing rapidity to being EV-dominated. Electric Autonomy Canada previously covered a report from EY which explored the potential impact of increased EV ownership on the power and energy sectors.
The discussion has moved from theoretical problem-solving to real world troubleshooting in EV hotspots from the U.S. to Spain and Canada to the Netherlands.
The report recommends pilot programs to test smart charging strategies and see how the system realizes benefits and how customers respond to assuming more active roles in the EV-charging experience.
Successful pilot programs
Pilots successfully run include: incentives for charging during off-peak hours; vehicle-to-grid integration; data sharing between home charge points, vehicles and distributors; and developing aggregator entities that serve to coordinate the activity and energy availability of the grid with consumption opportunities on the distribution side.
“Successful deployment of smart charging is more than just infrastructure provision; it requires widespread consumer acceptance and subsequent shifting of their charging behaviour,” the report concludes.
“Policymakers should work to establish smart charging as the baseline, rather than passive charging.”