The growing energy demand created by EV charging could threaten the stability of electrical grids unless utilities take a proactive approach to planning their future networks, according to a joint study from management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting and Australia-based charging infrastructure company Tritium.
“Preparing the Grid for the Uptake of Electric Vehicles” highlights a clustering effect in which a higher proportion of EV ownership in certain locations could overload local electricity infrastructure, particularly the feeder lines into a street or other location.
“Utilities need to be proactive in planning for a future scenario of significant EV adoption, especially in a world where spending capex on additional infrastructure at the cost of the consumer is no longer a palatable response,” said Natasha Santha, Principal at L.E.K. Consulting. “The real challenge for utilities is managing peak demand increase and the greater unpredictability that comes with greater EV adoption. EV charging has an element of randomness that needs to be managed; this can stress local infrastructure and heighten the need for increased network investment.”
The study outlines five measures utilities should consider to maintain the pace of EV adoption while keeping grids stable:
- Create demand response programs such as time-of-use EV tariffs
- Use managed charging software that schedules home charging throughout the night, averting the risk of EV owners all plugging in at once during evening peak demand
- Provide clear, detailed information to businesses and entrepreneurs looking to install public charging infrastructure
- Assess adjacent opportunities such as stationary battery storage that can reduce grid augmentation costs and enable charger deployment in areas of the network that would otherwise be prohibitive
- Work with charging manufacturers to stay at the forefront of technology