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EVs Change Technology Landscape

As more EVs (electric vehicles) roll out from manufacturers and arrive on dealers’ lots around the country, the way people think about refueling their cars is set to change. The EV market doesn’t just represent an opportunity for automakers, but also for the companies providing charging infrastructure and support.

A recent report from GTM Research,, predicts cumulative global EV sales to reach 3.8 million by 2016. The research firm says this will speed up the rate of adoption of technologies such as distribution automation, vehicle-to-grid communications, and new software applications. EVs present significant challenges to existing electric grids, and these types of technologies are needed to help support the grid and EVs.

“Despite the appeal of electric transportation, presently the challenges facing utilities due to the introduction of EVs are not very widely, or very well, understood,” says David Leeds, GTM Research’s senior manager of smart grid. He goes on to say that during the next decade, “ensuring adequate distribution grid reliability appears to be the principal challenge related to the initial rollout of EVs. A variety of related grid control and protection issues will necessitate a large investment in smart grid technologies, specifically grid communications and distribution automation.”

Charging stations are one important piece of required EV infrastructure. Drivers need to be able to find charging stations when they need them, or else EVs will not seem like a convenient option. GTM Research says recent investment in smart grid-EV infrastructure has focused on the charging station, and companies such as GE and Siemens are planning to roll out EV charging equipment in 2011.

“Right now, EV infrastructure investment is centered on electric delivery via the charging stations,” says Leeds. “However, as more public stations and Level 2 home chargers pop up, investment in a new generation of dynamic grid devices will be imperative. Smart grid technologies such as next generation tap changers, voltage regulators, capacitor banks, and reclosers, and the communication networks to support these smart devices, will bring a new level of grid optimization and control enabling EVs to safely scale into the tens and hundreds of millions.”

This ability to scale successfully is important as more EV owners seek to plug in their vehicles and recharge. A large number of EVs on the grid could be problem if not handled correctly. However, the development of technologies to support EVs seems to be progressing along with the automobiles.


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