EV Grid balancing has become increasingly important due to the recent influx of renewable electricity into the power infrastructure and the ability of electric vehicles to help or put even more stress on the grid.
Grid balancing is generally the process of supplying the correct amount of electricity to the power grid. It guarantees that the energy supply meets the volume of energy needed. When the local grids are not balanced, utilities must purchase electricity on the open market.
With the rise of e-mobility, charging electric vehicles will play a significant role in the power grid management of the future.
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With more renewable energy added to the system in recent years, this process is becoming even more complex. Renewable energy sources such as water, sun, and wind are particularly unpredictable. Because of their reliance on the weather, which can change in minutes, the energy production can variate extremely. Many private consumers use solar panels to generate electricity and feed it directly into the system. Altogether, renewable sources can provide under or oversupplies of electricity and are harder to predict and balance.
How does grid balancing work?
The primary purpose of grid balancing is to ensure the power grid operates smoothly at the correct frequency. Traditional grid balancing uses two main strategies.
Adjusting the electricity production
The first strategy is controlling and adjusting the electricity production to smooth out the power supply and demand. Usually, this means ramping up fossil fuel (coal, gas) operated power plants when the demand is higher. It’s effective but in no way environmental.
Differentiating the electricity prices during peak and off-peak hours
The second strategy for grid balancing electricity utility companies use is to “smoothen the curve.” This is best done by rewarding the consumers for using electricity in low-supply hours by differentiating electricity prices during peak and off-peak hours. It is something households use for a long time. But the real influence is when the largest consumers – the industry, can do it.
The electricity providers reward energy-intensive businesses with increased revenues if they reduce their power consumption during peak hours.
With electric vehicles becoming large consumers, EV Grid balancing will play an important role too.
Peak shaving and Load shifting
To prevent high peaks in consumption, especially from large consumers like industry and (in future) electric vehicles, the industry uses peak shaving and load shifting.
Peak loads require the grid to be designed around the largest amount of power required. Many industrial enterprises’ daily operations can produce fluctuating grid loads, such as turning on or boosting a production process. In other words, peak shaving is a great technique to keep network expansion costs down, prevent peak loads, and keep grid consumption costs low. Consumers use peak shaving to cut power use quickly for a short time.
Load shifting refers to a temporary drop in electricity consumption followed by increased production when power prices and grid demand are lower.
Read here to get more info on the differences between peak shaving and load shifting and how they affect grid balancing.
Using EV grid balancing
When high-quality renewable energy is available, the most important thing is to be able to use it. Burning high-carbon sources like coal to meet peak energy demand should be avoided.
If appropriately managed, EV charging can significantly assist in managing power supply and demand. However, EV charging systems must use a cloud-based Smart EV Charging Software. With the in-built dynamic EV Charging load management and EV Charging load balancing, users can set up their charging to automatically charge when the charging prices (off-peak hours) are low.
So, EV grid balancing is essentially a strategy to use EV charging to “smoothen the curve.”
Smart EV charging and EV grid balancing in praxis
So, how can using Smart EV charging balance the grid in praxis?
Smart charging stations enable EV drivers to schedule charging. It can be done at the home, workplace, or public charging stations as long as they are connected to a central Smart EV Charging platform managed by their Electro Mobility Service Provider (EMSP).
The EMSP offers the users different pricing plans, including different pricing for charging on peak or off-peak hours. The user plugs EV into the station and sets how much he wants to charge (% of battery) and when he wishes to achieve this (hour). The Smart EV charging software with load management function will then manage the charging to use as much cheap energy as possible.
For instance, you can plug an EV into the charger at 3 PM and set that you need a full battery at 7 AM the next day. Even if charging would only take 5 hours, the charging software decides when the actual charging will occur. At 7 AM the next day, the battery will be full at the minimal possible cost. Users don’t really care about grid balancing but saving on EV charging.
Remember, peak or off-peak hours do not occur only on a day vs. night basis. Any time the supply rises is a good time to charge, and it can also happen during the day if, for instance, the conditions for the solar power plants are good.
So it’s essential that the software communicates with the grid in real-time and then manages the charging.
With this smart charging or EV load management, all parties benefit. The users save money, and EVs help with grid balancing.
Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology
Often you will hear the term V2G (Vehicle to Grid) technology in correlation to EVs and EV grid balancing. This particular system is excellent in theory but has yet to become popular among EV users, EMSPs, EV CPOs, and energy utility companies.
The idea behind V2G technology is that you charge your EV while rates are low and then discharge the power back to the grid when demand is high, and costs are higher. It is all controlled by Smart EV charging software, and users will get a chance to earn money with it.
Smart EV charging makes electrical networks more flexible for renewable energy integration. It gives a low-carbon electricity option to serve the transport industry while satisfying mobility needs by reducing EV charging stress on the grid.
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