As the roll-out of electric vehicles gathers momentum, one of the main issues to overcome is how the national grid is going to cope with the increased energy demands coming from charging all those EVs.
Just as the close of the 90s was heralded by a collective obsession with the millennium bug and all the chaos that would ensue when the clock finally rolled into a new millennium, the rise of the EV is leading to a fair bit of doomsday speculation:
There won’t be enough electricity to charge all the cars.
The grid will crash!
And just as fears over the millennium bug were unfounded and led to the biggest anti-climax of the century, so too are the fears surrounding the electricity grid somewhat less than rationale.
It’s highly unlikely EVs will crash the grid. What is possible, however, is that the increased pressure lots of charging EVS will put on the local electricity distribution networks could necessitate expensive cable and substation upgrades.
Why Smart Charging Is The Answer To Peak Electricity Demands
One solution to the potential issues caused by EVS is Smart Charging.
Put simply, Smart Charging is a means of controlling the time and/or rate of charging according to periods of high or low energy demand, enabling your car to stop charging during peak times, thus avoiding the dreaded grid crash.
With Smart chargepoints, you can leave your car plugged in all day, yet your chargepoint would only draw electricity from the grid when at times when there’s less demand for electricity for other things (i.e. at night, when most people are sleeping and use very little electric). The electricity the grid needs to provide at these times is lower, making the electric used to charge your car cheaper. Your Smart Charger would then cut off when demand starts to peak, and continue charging as demand dips again.
But Smart charging points are so-called for a good reason. They aren’t bound by pre-set timers, but rather communicate with the grid to see when demand is high or low, and communicate with your car to tell it when to take energy into its battery and when to stop.
The Electric Nation project is currently trialling Smart Charging with 700 participants to provide local electricity network operators with the knowledge and tools to help their networks cope with this new EV challenge.
The Benefits Of V2G Technology
In addition to Smart Chargers allowing cars to only charge off-peak, Vehicle to Grid or V2G charging could actually benefit the country’s energy grid. New V2G technology would essentially transform any parked EV into power sources feeding the grid during peak times.
Whether your car is sat on the driveway at home or parked up in a multi-story while you’re at work, it’s capable of delivering a power charge back to the grid, creating a reciprocal relationship between your car and the energy grid.
V2G-technology uses a specially designed charging station that’s bi-directional, allowing EV owners to both charge their care and discharge the energy in their car’s battery back into the grid.
You’re not just taking from the grid during off-peak times, you’re also providing a boost during peak times, pumping energy back into the grid when it needs it most.
This wouldn’t just be better for the country’s energy supply, but would also potentially come with a nice cash bonus for you, as an EV owner providing a helpful service for the grid.
The upshot is that your car’s charging system can be smart enough to either charge or discharge energy based on your needs and the demand being placed on the grid.
Renewable energy resources will be better integrated into the electricity grid, and considerably more stable as a result.
So not only would we not have to worry about EVs causing a mass blackout, they would actually be on call to prevent such an event happening as a result of high energy demands.
Soaking Up Some Solar Supply
Solar power is amazing, allowing us to harness the natural power of the sun rather than burning through fossil fuels. The problem is that the sun doesn’t shine at night, and solar power is difficult to store. This is where EVs come in, as they are able to draw solar power from the grid on-peak at midday, when the solar output of electricity is at its highest, store that power in their batteries, then feed it back to the grid when the sun has gone down.
If EV vehicle owners charge their cars from 11 am to 4 pm, then discharge the electricity they have absorbed during peak times it will further stabilise the grid and ensure that more of the solar power generated is actually used.
What Does All This Mean For Drivers?
The flexibility offered by an EV battery has a lot of benefits, beginning with the obvious ability to reduce CO2 emissions, ending in the chance to earn yourself some extra cash, and sparking a genuine clean energy driving revolution in the process.
EVs have the ability to balance the supply and demand needs of the electricity grid and adjust their charge levels in order to achieve a steady frequency and voltage, which is great. It does, however, come with some practical challenges that will mean new market rules are brought in to regulate how it works.
The Future Is EVergreen…
It’s an exciting time in motoring – EVs have the potential to create a healthier future for us and the planet, but we’re still figuring out the fine print. Battery and charging technology is developing fast, and as more and more of us drive electric, greater investment and advancement will happen.
Getting the infrastructure in place to allow EV to reach its full potential is vital, and Smart Charging all begins with the right chargepoints. Get in touch today to chat about the best way to install a Smart Charger in your home and business…