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Smart Grid And Electric Vehicles: A Match Made In Heaven?

The widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) will lead to greater consumption of electricity. As a result, existing electricity systems will have to be reconfigured to meet these needs, and this is where the smart grid can play an important role, according to a report released by the International Transport Forum.

Smart grid technology can make it possible for EVs to proliferate without overloading the electric supply industry. At the same time, these vehicles may be useful for matching intermittent solar and wind power supplies to demand, soaking up excess off-peak power supply and feeding power back into the grid when needed. In addition, EVs may be able to produce a backup supply of power in case of power cuts, according to the report.

As the use of EVs grows, demand on electricity load will need to be carefully managed in order to avoid problems in peak load periods – for example, when motorists plug in their cars to recharge at the end of the workday. Smart grid technologies enable charging load to be shifted automatically to off-peak periods regardless of when the EV owner plugs in the vehicle.

This applies to private vehicles charged at home and to fleet vehicles in commercial operation. Both can benefit from low off-peak electricity charges through smart-meter-enabled charging. Managing demand in this way can significantly reduce generation and network investment needs, as well as minimize carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation, according to the report.

In the longer term, there may be some potential for the smart grid to enable EVs to be used as distributed storage devices by feeding the electricity stored in their batteries back into the system or directly into the home or office.



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