The electric grid’s capacity to handle the predicted surge of electric vehicles (EVs) poses a significant question: can the grid handle charging the large number of electric vehicles that are expected to hit the market? Addressing this challenge requires substantial infrastructure upgrades and the incorporation of smart grid technologies. While current systems can manage the early stages of the EV revolution, the anticipated mass adoption of EVs will necessitate grid modernization. This includes improved transmission lines, advanced energy storage solutions, and intelligent demand response strategies. As the EV revolution progresses, a multi-faceted approach will be needed to ensure the electric grid’s resilience and reliability.
InductEV has developed technology for EV charging that accelerates grid modernization. The company has completed many successful wireless EV charging deployments around the globe, and specializes in high-power wireless EV charging, used in zero emission vehicles like electric buses and drayage trucks. InductEV is constantly looking for innovative solutions that not only help accelerate reaching Net Zero carbon emissions but also reduce pressure on the electrical grid.
Low carbon fuel for vehicles
Given it is very difficult, if not impossible to develop low carbon diesel or gasoline for motive transportation, the most effective way to drive to Net Zero carbon emissions is to produce low carbon electricity which can be used to power electric vehicles.
Low carbon electricity comes from well known sources of energy like hydro power, solar power, wind power, nuclear fission (which is on the decline inside the U.S., but not in the rest of the world) and, in the future, nuclear fusion, which is the same, clean process that powers the Sun.
The challenge that renewable fuel sources face is that, for the first time, grid load is now larger at night than during the day and wind and solar power only work during the day, which is the opposite of when they are needed. With the expected growth of electric vehicles, which historically power at home or in fleet depots at night, something must change.
How smart EV charging systems and AI avoid grid problems during peak demand times
Smart EV (Electric Vehicle) charging systems contribute significantly to relieving pressure on the electric grid. These systems use advanced technology to manage the flow of electricity to the EVs, ensuring optimal use of energy. These techniques are greatly enhanced if charging occurs in route and can be done without cables or human intervention. This is why wireless charging systems have such an out-sized impact – not only improving the economics of electric vehicles but also positively affecting the grid for all users of power. During peak demand times, smart charging can delay or minimize EV charging to prevent overloading the grid. Additionally, these systems can leverage renewable energy sources when available or draw power during off-peak hours, effectively balancing the load on the grid. By shifting the EV charging to periods of lower demand, smart EV charging aids in maintaining grid stability, thus playing a crucial role in the efficient management of our energy infrastructure. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can offer substantial assistance in solving electric grid problems. AI can help in predicting and managing energy demand and supply, providing accurate forecasts based on historical data, weather patterns, and other relevant factors. This predictive ability is crucial in preventing power outages and ensuring grid reliability.
Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology
Another vital aspect of improving grid stability and efficiency is Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology. V2G systems allow electric vehicles (EVs) to communicate and interact with the main power grid. This two-way interaction means that not only can EVs draw power from the grid to charge their batteries, but they can also feed electricity back into the grid during peak demand periods to offset peak demand. In essence, V2G transforms EVs into mobile energy storage units, aiding in the balancing of power supply and demand. Furthermore, V2G can capitalize on renewable energy production by charging EVs when renewable energy generation is high during the daytime and returning energy to the grid when it’s low at night, when demand rises, thus reducing reliance on non-renewable energy sources.
New technologies help the grid
Smart grid technologies refer to an overlapping set of innovations that enable real-time monitoring and control of the electric grid. They include automated fault detection, self-healing mechanisms, two-way communication systems, and the integration of renewable energy sources. Advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), for example, allows for two-way communication between utilities and consumers, enabling more efficient management of energy demand. Grid energy storage systems and distributed energy resources ensure the stability of power supply, particularly from intermittent renewable energy sources. These technologies collectively usher in a more resilient, efficient, and sustainable electric grid. “Distributed energy resources, such as energy efficiency, smart demand response, smart electric vehicle charging, building-level energy storage and distributed solar photovoltaics, become more critical every year,” said the International Energy Agency.
Advanced energy storage solutions are needed for grid modernization
Advanced energy storage solutions are critical for grid modernization, providing the flexibility needed to manage the increasing influx of renewable energy and the growing demand from charging electric vehicles. Solutions range from traditional methods, such as pumped hydro storage, which relies on gravitational potential energy, to innovative technologies like lithium-ion batteries, which offer high energy density and a long cycle life. Another promising technology is the flow battery, which has the potential for significant scalability and long discharge times. Furthermore, thermal energy storage, which stores energy in heating or cooling substances, provides options for both short and long duration storage. Additionally, power-to-gas technologies, which convert surplus electricity into hydrogen or synthetic gas, present long-term storage solutions and can utilize existing gas infrastructure.
Renewable energy is growing fast, and will aid grid problems
According to projections from various global energy organizations, the adoption of renewable energy is set to increase significantly in 2023. Continued technological advancements, along with favorable policy frameworks, are expected to drive this growth. Solar and wind power are predicted to lead the charge, with other renewable sources such as hydroelectricity and bioenergy also witnessing considerable expansion. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “Global renewable capacity additions are set to soar by 107 gigawatts (GW), the largest absolute increase ever, to more than 440 GW in 2023.”
Solar power is one of the fastest growing forms of renewable energy
Solar power is projected to experience robust growth in 2023. According to estimates by the IEA, “Solar PV generation increased by a record 270 TWh (up 26%) in 2022, reaching almost 1, 300 TWh. It demonstrated the largest absolute generation growth of all renewable technologies in 2022, surpassing wind for the first time in history. This generation growth rate matches the level envisaged from 2023 to 2030 in the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.” Therefore, solar power is poised to play an increasingly pivotal role in the global transition towards renewable energy.
Why microgrids are important to the resiliency of the electricity grid
Microgrids are playing an increasingly important role in improving the reliability and resiliency of the electricity grid. As autonomous energy systems, they can operate in parallel with the main grid or independently, providing essential support during peak demand periods or grid outages. Moreover, they integrate a diverse mix of energy sources, including renewable technologies, further facilitating the transition towards a sustainable energy future.
Proper planning and the use of available technologies will help the grid
With the proper planning, use of smart grid technology, V2G, AI, smart charging, renewable energy, and microgrids, the electric grid will be able to handle the expected large influx of electric vehicles to the market in the future.