Utilities addressing the wide-ranging benefits and operational impacts of increased utilization of electric vehicles (EVs) on the grid will find two recently released studies by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) of particular benefit.
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, EV-related electricity consumption is projected to increase in the U.S. from the current 1 TWh — consumed annually by the 580,000 EVs sold in the U.S. as of February 2017 — to a whopping 33 TWh annually by 2025. As a result, it makes sense that demand response (DR) programs using EV-managed charging are a growing area of interest and importance for utilities, given the massive growth expected in EVs in the next few years.
The first SEPA report on this subject, Utilities and Electric Vehicles: The Case For Managed Charging, provides an up-to-date perspective on the benefits and opportunities for managed charging, along with a picture of the competitive landscape of utilities, communication pathways, vehicle-grid integration and connected car platform providers and related manufacturers.
The second report, released on May 31, 2017, brings key insights from the first study into even more detailed perspective in Planning the Distributed Energy Future Volume II: A Case Study of Integrated DER Planning by Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
The author of the first report is Erika H. Myers. She is the director of research, specializing in renewable energy and EV infrastructure, and staffs SEPA’s Electric Vehicle Working Group. Myers has analyzed key issues and trends of interest, including, for example, the need for utilities to manage “timer peaks,” or what one may call the off-peak peak: “...an inadvertent result of time-of-use rates. Even though time-of-use rates have helped shift charging hours to utilities’ preferred times of the day — late evening and early morning hours — customers often schedule their vehicles to begin charging the moment off-peak rates begin, resulting in sharp load ramps.”
Managed charging — also called V1G, intelligent, adaptive or smart charging — allows a utility or third party to remotely control vehicle charging by turning it up, down or even off to better correspond to the needs of the grid, much like traditional DR programs. Managed charging is different than vehicle-to-grid (V2G) dispatch,which is the use of a plugged-in EV with available charged battery capacity to backfeed power to the grid. While V2G has been tested in a small number of pilots, several technical and regulatory issues need to be resolved before it can be widely and effectively used. While managed charging also faces some barriers, solutions are in process and could help prepare a solid foundation for V2G.
How are utilities to avoid EV-related consequences of poor load management and suboptimal rate schedules? This is addressed in fascinating detail by the second SEPA study, which was commissioned by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD).
The study found the following key findings:
- Through the study, SMUD built a comprehensive database looking at current and likely customer adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs) across its service territory, to be used, for example, to leverage DERs for their locational value to provide customer-grid solutions. (Map examples are available.)
- SMUD estimates that its customers and third-party developers are spending $150 million to $200 million per year on DERs in its service territory, more than it spends on utility-scale renewables.
- In a scenario with high penetrations of solar PV and EVs, and unmanaged vehicle charging, it was estimated that total distribution upgrade costs through 2030 may range from $50 million to $100 million or more.
- Robust iDER planning in the future will also require investments in analytics, modeling tools, communications systems and IT infrastructure. Creating a dedicated, multidisciplinary DER planning team may also be needed.
For more information, visit SEPA. ♦