The Synergy between EV Charging and Renewables

by EVOS Staff 29 June 2023
IEA Statistics Graphic

As the urgency to transition to sustainable means of transportation gains momentum worldwide, the surge in electric vehicles (EVs) is undeniable. However, the challenge lies not only in increasing EV adoption but also in integrating them seamlessly with our existing power infrastructure, particularly renewable energy sources.

The Promise of Renewable Integration: A Game-changer for EV Charging

At the bulk energy level, the concept of shifting EV charging to more favourable times of the day creates a compelling business case. This load-shifting can increase consumption and reduce curtailment of transmission-connected renewables. A case in point is Korea, where flexible EV charging of 30% of the projected EV fleet by 2035 could reduce operating costs by USD 21/MWh and peak costs by USD 18/MWh - representing reductions of 21% and 30% respectively. Additionally, it could lead to a staggering 63% emissions reduction compared to a full internal combustion engine fleet. This strategic pairing of EV charging and renewable availability can bolster the business case for renewable energy developers by reducing curtailment.

Synergies at the Distribution Level There are promising synergies to explore at the distribution level as well. In areas with significant penetration of rooftop solar PV, challenges often arise due to high local voltage (overvoltage) conditions, when the energy generated doesn’t match consumption. Conversely, simultaneous EV charging in the evenings can cause low voltage levels (undervoltage). Co-ordinating the operation of EV charging and solar PV can effectively keep delivery within contractual voltage limits, thereby increasing the mutual hosting capacity within a distribution grid. A Swedish study demonstrated that the distribution grid could host a higher penetration of EVs and distributed PVs when co-ordinated with a management system compared to uncoordinated operation.

Embracing Daytime Charging Daytime charging, especially when managed, can help increase the consumption of renewables when solar-based generation is available, reducing storage requirements and ramping costs. Policymakers can provide specific training for building managers to install and manage workplace chargers or offer purchase and installation incentives.

Fostering a Clean Electricity Supply In liberalised power systems, mechanisms such as consumer power purchase agreements (PPAs), green tariffs, and energy attribute certificates can help foster the growth of renewable energy capacity. These options can help individual EV users and fleet managers ensure their energy supply comes from renewable sources.

Monitoring Indirect Emissions from EV Charging Creating a framework to monitor electricity emissions from EV charging can help align smart charging algorithms and support decarbonisation options. This will involve obtaining data on charging time periods and the real-time and forecasted electricity mix.

Incentivising EV Charging Policy makers can also provide incentives tied to renewable energy matching conditions. For instance, in Belgium, to qualify for tax incentives for residential charging, the user must show that the charging point is supplied by renewable electricity. Similarly, in Hanover, Germany, grants were given to those planning to build charging points supplied by renewable sources.

As the power system continues to decarbonise, an increasingly precise temporal and locational matching will be needed, requiring a higher frequency exchange of information on emissions, forecasts, and connected EVs. Consequently, investments in a smart electric mobility ecosystem will become even more critical.

The integration of EV charging with renewables is not only a viable solution for a sustainable future, but it also represents a significant economic opportunity. By leveraging this potential, policy makers, EV manufacturers, and energy providers can work together to accelerate the shift to clean and efficient mobility solutions.

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