Driving emission-free and contributing to the integration of renewable energies

Electric vehicles receive their energy from a battery. In contrast to vehicles with a traditional combustion engine, electric cars are refueled via the power grid. Provided that the electricity is generated from renewable sources, electric cars run emission-free and do not emit any CO2.

A nationwide charging infrastructure: A challenge for the power grid

A nationwide charging infrastructure is a necessary requirement for a rising number of electric cars. Since March 2017, the expansion of the charging network is supported by the German Government. This ensures a rising number of charging stations but also poses a challenge to the power grid. Simultaneous and uncontrolled charging of many electric cars can result in electricity system overloading issues. Therefore, an organized and structured expansion of the charging infrastructure is important, and locations of charging stations have to be chosen carefully. In addition, the power grid can be relieved by coordinating the charging of several cars. The charging stations in an underground parking, for example, can reduce the charging power intelligently if the grid is in danger of overloading because of too many cars charging simultaneously. Thus, the impairment of the users can be kept to a minimum. For fleet operators who charge many vehicles simultaneously at their location (e.g. bus depot or logistics center), a buffer battery can also be attractive.

Using the flexibility of electric vehicles in the smart grid

Electric vehicles not only pose a challenge for the electricity grid, but also offer new possibilities due to their flexibility. For example, the charging power can be shifted in order to charge when there is surplus wind or solar energy or when the electricity price is particularly low. Apart from this, other services are also possible, such as reducing the charging power in the event of a grid congestion.

The most opportunities are offered by a so-called bidirectional charging system, with which it is also possible to discharge the battery of the electric vehicle again and feed the electricity back into the grid. In this way, electric vehicles can be used as a home storage system in order to optimize self-consumption, and to balance out fluctuations in the power grid. The vehicle can then not only systematically absorb renewable energy, but also feed energy back into the grid when demand is high. Thus, electric cars can contribute to integrating renewable energies, and constitute an additional component in smart grids. For each application, intelligent concepts for controlling the charging or discharging power are necessary and questions regarding communication and compliance with technical guidelines must be clarified.

In brief
  • Electric vehicles run emission-free and are “refueled” by charging the battery.
  • Grid overloading caused by too many cars charging simultaneously can be avoided by coordinated charging.
  • Using intelligent control concepts, the electric vehicle can function as an additional storage device in the smart grid and can balance out fluctuations in the power grid.

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