NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Rise Of EVs And The Grid Can Manage It

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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Wednesday, November 06, 2019

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Rise Of EVs And The Grid Can Manage It

    The rise of EVs could overwhelm the grid, but PG&E has a better plan; A new framework gives utilities a way to identify and seize electrification value with managed charging

    Herman K. Trabish, June 13, 2019 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The need for transportation electrification is clear but new concern about the need to manage the new load they will bring to the grid is also growing.

    The power demand from the 20 million electric vehicles (EVs) expected to be on U.S. roads by 2030, up from today's 1.1 million, could overwhelm the nation's grids.

    But the coming EV load could deliver great value to utilities and their customers if it is shifted away from high-priced peak demand periods. That would increase utilities' electricity sales without adding stress to their grids, while also lowering drivers' charging costs. Investing in the communications systems and planning needed to properly manage charging can deliver transportation electrification's full value, stakeholders told Utility Dive.

    EVs are the biggest "electric load opportunity for utilities" since the 1950s air conditioning explosion, a May 2019 Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) study reports. But without proper planning to integrate that load, "EVs could lead to grid constraints and increased transmission and distribution peaks" that require new "peaker plants, unplanned grid upgrades, and other costly solutions."

    Proper planning and investment now will allow utilities to manage the new load and use EVs as "grid assets" to "align and balance" supply and demand, and make demand more "flexible," SEPA Principal of Transportation Electrification and study lead author Erika Myers told Utility Dive.

    Utilities can be "uniquely positioned" to manage charging to serve customers and the grid if they "take critical proactive steps before EV adoption rates accelerate," Myers said. A framework developed by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), which faces the biggest EV load of any U.S. utility, shows utilities and other stakeholders in the shift to transportation electrification how to identify and seize the value in this fast-emerging market.

    The threat to the grid represented by EV growth will not be due to a lack of the electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) used for charging. An estimated 9.6 million EV charging ports will be needed by 2030, according to the Edison Electric Institute, but 2018's 1.2 million North American charging ports will grow ten times to over 12.6 million by 2027, according to Navigant. Private sector EV or EVSE manufacturers could manage the coming load by aggregating their customers to provide demand response services to utilities, SEPA reported. But a utility with sufficient communications and control technology could aggregate all EV drivers in its territory, a much more significant load that will soon significantly impact system, driver and customer needs… click here for more

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