ORIGINAL REPORTING: EV charging promises a demand response bonanza for utilities if they can handle it
EV charging promises a demand response bonanza for utilities, if they can handle it; Aggregated flexible load of high EV penetrations will be lucrative in demand response markets, but for now smaller EV demand gives utilities management practice.
Herman K. Trabish, October 18, 2019 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: As power systems across the country add more variable renewables, interest in using distributed resources like EV charging as flexible load is growing.
Electric vehicle (EV) charging may eventually offer power systems great load flexibility opportunities, but today's modest EV penetrations may be more of a challenge than a benefit for utilities.
EV adoption is growing fast, but only in some areas. Too much simultaneous charging in these areas could be a threat to distribution system stability, requiring costly new infrastructure. Utilities are moving to EV-specific time of use (TOU) rates, a type of demand response (DR) with price signals, to get customers to proactively move charging in these areas away from peak demand. But that may not be enough. flexible load authority Ryan Hledik told Utility Dive. "In the near term, control of that EV charging demand is an important piece of the distribution system management puzzle."
Despite the limited adoption that keeps EVs from being a system-wide threat now, utilities need to develop active responses for controlling localized EV charging demand, power system authorities told Utility Dive. Early trials of EV-charging-as-DR have had limited success, they acknowledged, adding that utilities must learn to manage clustered charging to be ready for high EV penetrations.
The need for utilities to respond to new demand from EVs, especially from clustered charging, could come sooner than many expect, Brattle's Hledik said. Today's more than 1.27 million EVs on U.S. roads are expected to become 18.7 million by 2030, according to August 2019 data from the Edison Electric Institute. By then, 3.5 million EVs will be sold annually, representing 20% of U.S. new car sales. And that forecast could be accelerated by over 60 new models of light-, medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles expected by the early 2020s, Hledik added.
This is the beginning of the transportation electrification needed to decarbonize the economy, and the utilities that see the urgency in managing this load are moving to TOU rates, Hledik said. "Twenty or more utilities offer some kind of EV-specific TOU rate to encourage EV charging when it is most beneficial to the system."
TOU rate that rewards EV owners for voluntary charging reductions is considered "passive" DR because the utility has little control over customer choices, he added. In "active" DR programs, customers are rewarded for giving utilities limited direct control of their charging during peak demand events… click here for more