ORIGINAL REPORTING: Electric vehicles can be grid assets or liabilities. Utility planning will decide
Electric vehicles can be grid assets or liabilities. How utilities plan will decide; A new paper outlines strategies for utilities to get ahead of the coming EV boom
Herman K. Trabish, May 17, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The realization is rising of how big a win-win-win smart charging is for utilities, the private sector, and sectors.
Utilities have a lot to gain from the electric vehicle transition but, if they don’t act, they could also have a lot to lose. A recent estimate from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) forecasted that EV-related overloads could necessitate replacing 17%, or 12,000, of its transformers at an average cost of $7,400 each. That’s only one municipal utility. Impacts on the entire U.S. grid scale could be proportionate. The 580,000 EVs on the road in the U.S. today represent 1 TWh of consumption, but by 2040, that could grow to 551 TWh, according to a Utilities and Electric Vehicles; The Case For Managed Charging. Whether EVs turn into a blessing or a curse for utilities depends on how they respond now, according to the report’s authors. The paper urges utilities to be proactive in decisions that can shape charging to coincide with grid needs instead of allowing them to add to the grid’s needs.
Decisions are being made about how EV charging will be controlled that range from standards for the charging equipment deployed to regulations that govern charging rates. As the transportation and power sectors' needs come together, collaboration on things like utility rates will become more important. Working together, utilities and car companies can effectively manage the new load patterns about to come at utility distribution systems, the paper argues. Managed charging can result in benefits to utility customers, the grid, and private charging providers, while also allowing the integration of more renewables. To be a grid asset, EVs would need to be at least 5% of new car sales. They are now approximately 1%. Experts say this is the time for electric utilities is to find out what works best for the market and for customers so they can help move electric transportation to a scale where they can use it to the benefit of all stakeholders. Many opportunities are linked to managed charging because EVs can be a huge flexible load if utilities learn to effectively manage charging but, if left unmanaged, they could make utilities’ grid management more difficult… click here for more
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