• Anders Rudlang

Will all the new EV's break the power grid ?

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

The rapid growth of electric vehicles in traffic raises critical questions from various sources. One of them is that there is not enough power to charge all the new electric cars.

This is nothing to worry about. The production capacity and the electrical power grids can handle the increased demand from electric cars, but it will be consumption peaks that require special attention.

An average battery-electric car today uses approx. 2 kWh of electricity per 10 km of driving. A little more in the winter in cold regions, a little less in the southern areas. This can vary between 1.3 kWh to 2.8 kWh per. 10km from a smaller car and up to a larger SUV type electric car on cold winter roads.

Based on an average annual mileage of about 15,000 km, this represents approx.

3000 kWh power consumption per year. In a country like Norway, today (Sept. 2021) approx. 400,000 pure battery-electric cars require a total of 1,200,000,000 kWh per year (1.2 tWh). Compared with the annual power production in Norway of more than 150 tWh, the electricity consumption of the electric cars is less than the annual variation in the electricity production, and represent only about 0.8% of the annual production.

Even with an estimated 1 million electric cars in Norway in 2025, the total electricity consumption of electric cars still amounts to only 3 tWh, or approx. 2% of the total annual production.

The challenge is the capacity of the local power grids. At certain times (on weekends, typically Friday and Sunday) and in certain places (along the road corridors to / from weekend destinations, in rural districts) with weaker grid capacity, the requirements for transmission capacity (power grid) may be higher than the local grid capacity at certain times .

In many places, the grid companies will have to expand the capacity of their power grid by laying more cable, expanding transformers and substations. This is expensive, and can in many cases trigger a claim for a construction grant if e.g. a housing association, a service station or shopping center requires greater capacity for its planned charging facility.

The solution to "flatten out" the power curve is to include additional energy management services with load balancing integrated in the charging solutions. This can be solved in several ways by e.g. a charging system in a housing association, with many charging outlets uses "smart charging" functions that enable the charging current to be evenly distributed (balanced) between all charging vehicles in the charging system, also by distributing the charge evenly throughout the night.

An increasing trend is also the use of local battery solutions - power banks - integrated with the charging system. The batteries are charged with slow energy / surplus energy during periods of low utilization. This stored electricity is then used to "boost" capacity when demand is highest. To handle this, the charging system must use modern, advanced charging solutions (CSMS system) that can deliver load balancing and energy management.

Electric Freeway SmartCharge provided by Electric Freeway in collaboration with the Norwegian software company can already deliver several of these environmentally friendly and future-oriented features. The charging systems will be continuously further developed to be able to handle several advanced functions of this type.

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