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The effects of Electric Vehicles on the transmission grid

Although electric chargers traditionally connect to the distribution grid, the proliferation of Electric Vehicles (EVs) will affect the transmission grid as well, not to mention the flexible services that they might provide.

The first position paper developed by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) analyses the challenges but also the numerous opportunities of this evolution for the Transmission System Operators (TSOs) and provides a set of key recommendations to enable the full deployment of EV technology.

After a deep analysis and the pooling of TSO experiences, ENTSO-E considers electromobility a powerful resource, not only to decarbonise the transport sector but also to provide flexible services to the energy system. An optimal vehicle-grid interaction will guarantee important environmental and economic benefits for consumers and all involved actors, as well as improved system management. To make it real, all the involved actors should cooperate to promote the implementation and deployment of smart charging and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.

The number of commercially available models is rapidly increasing and typical users’ concerns when comparing them to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, such as short-range autonomy and higher prices, are expected to be solved shortly. The development of a suitable charging infrastructure answering the needs of different stakeholders in the electro-mobility value chain and the adoption of a smart charging process currently represent the major gap to be covered for most of the actors involved in this complex ecosystem.

Indeed, leaving the charging process uncontrolled can result in significant challenges for the power system, such as peak power demand due to cumulative effects in certain time periods. In contrast, managing the charging process in terms of time scheduling and power profile will not only limit the potential challenges but also open new opportunities. Smart EV charging can support the integration of a larger share of renewable energy source (RES) generation, by reshaping the power demand curve, supporting generation fleet adequacy and reducing system costs and CO2 emissions. In addition, the EVs will enable improved system management, both in terms of ancillary services and grid congestions. EV users will also benefit from lower charging energy costs, more reliable services and by contributing to more sustainable transport.

TSOs should be involved in many aspects of E-mobility development to properly address the foreseen challenges and maximise all the opportunities offered by EV adoption to facilitate the delivery of consumer-oriented services in terms of grid / system management. Furthermore, TSOs should devise a multisided action plan including technical, economic, political, regulatory and social aspects.

Source: ENTSO-E position paper.

First of all, according to ENTSO-E, TSOs should work to characterise the EV related technology as a flexible resource through dedicated pilot projects: this will enable the identification of technical, standardisation and regulatory issues and suggest viable solutions. Also, TSOs, with the support of research institutions, should analyse the potential opportunities of the services provided by EVs in their grid operation activity. They should analyse near-future scenarios and identify the cumulative effects of different services in terms of grid stability, energy savings, and environmental and economic benefits. Thus they should cooperate with other grid operators (for example DSOs), market operators, technical commissions and the regulatory authority to jointly define and implement the best solutions to unlock the potential of EV to provide energy and flexibility services.

Overall, whenever possible, TSOs and other energy system operators should try to influence the mobility sector towards grid-friendly solutions. Consistently with this vision, many European TSOs have already begun projects and activities focused on various aspects of E-mobility.

Among those, Slovenia’s ELES has launched three successful projects. The INCIT-EV Project simulates cross impacts between the Electricity and Transport sector in terms of grids and electric markets. The concept emphasises the importance of a positive electric vehicle user experience, which of course includes simple, intuitive and user-friendly charging, which brings societal benefits as well as benefits for the entire electric power system. The E8 concept addresses human behaviour, logistics and technical issues related to private vehicle and private location (smart) charging. Finally, the Professional vehicles charging pilot project aims to realisation of a charging area for professional vehicles close to the Ljubljana highway.

The E-mobility environment is today extremely dynamic, so ENTSO-E is proposing to take actions that will contribute to the progressive implementation of a fruitful framework to take advantage of the existing synergies and opportunities. The positive effects will be relevant and shared among different stakeholders, first and foremost European citizens, who are final users of both energy and mobility services and who will benefit from cleaner transport and energy systems.

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