NRCan studies grid readiness as utilities, generators prepare for EV effect on demand
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Jan 13, 2022
Mehanaz Yakub

Natural Resources Canada continues to investigate Canada’s grid readiness by launching new public consultations on the effect EVs will have on load management in response to a 2020 study

In preparation for the electrification of the automotive sector, NRCan studies Canada’s grid readiness.

Natural Resources Canada continues to investigate Canada’s grid readiness by launching new public consultations on the effect EVs will have on load management in response to a 2020 study

As electric vehicle adoption rates surge many of Canada’s electric grids will feel an impact by the demand to deliver enough (and clean) energy to power these vehicles. To understand the challenges and identify solutions, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) launched an initial round of public consultations last month to determine the anticipated impact of high penetration of EVs will have on grids.

The government is seeking written input from utility providers, system operators, energy service companies and other electricity stakeholders, on the following questions:

  1. What are the implications of accelerated targets for requiring the sale of all new vehicles be zero-emission on the electricity grid? What challenges do they pose to the electricity system or electricity sector generally, what opportunities do they present?
  2.  Do you anticipate disproportionate impacts of challenges or opportunities for some electricity customer demographics more than others?
  3.  How can the federal government support electricity sector efforts to enable adoption of EVs at an accelerated rate?

The responses to the questions, which had a submission deadline of Jan. 7, required empirical evidence or studies to support claims and could touch on a number of related topics, challenges, and opportunities such as:

  • removing or mitigating customer barriers to EV adoption;
  • addressing rate impacts, including assessments of different customer segments who may bear more of the burden than others without intervention;
  •  resolving reliability concerns for the electric grid resulting from ZEV integration –
  • leveraging the ZEV effort to address broader challenges of electrification and electricity transformation by 2050;
  • supporting the grid, and creating opportunities through Vehicle-to-X (V2X) developments; and
  • implementing new business models enabled by industry trends.

Consultations in response to 2020 study

This isn’t the first time the government has consulted on issues related to integrating EVs with Canada’s grids.

NRCan is currently stewarding a $100 million over four years, utility-led Smart Grid Program (SGP) to address “key infrastructure to advance the goals of the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change,” according to government information. Many of the funded projects under the program are related to load management and integrating EVs with the grid.

Prior to the launch of the SGP, in 2016, NRCan launched an Infrastructure and Grid Readiness Working Group.

And in 2020 it hired an external consulting firm, ICF International Inc., to study EV readiness of grids from February 2020 to December 2020.

The goal of the ICF study was to help Canadian utilities better understand the expected energy demands from future electric car fleets, as well as the impact on power systems.

At the wholesale/transmission system level, the ICF study found the best practices adopted by utilities and systems operators included piloting time-differentiated rates to influence charging behaviour and boosting visibility of EVs in their service territory. Additionally, utilities should be looking for ways to acquire and improve their ability to forecast EV charging loads and refine their load profile, recommended the study.

The study concluded that at the grid distribution system level, Canadian utilities and systems operators need to study and employ various load management solutions. There should also be an effort to incorporate Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), such as EV charging management, vehicle-to-home or vehicle-to-building bidirectional charging and vehicle-to-grid bidirectional charging.

The study also recommends that “utilities should undertake a thorough review of their distribution system design practices and possibly change the standard design rules in preparation for a higher load per customer due to EV charging.”

NRCan says it hopes the latest consultations will “help validate, build on, nuance or challenge the findings of the study.”

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