The inevitable increase of the number of electric vehicles on the road brings with it new and imminent challenges for our power grids. The ‘Power sector accelerating e-mobility’ report examines these challenges and also the opportunities for power and utilities companies. Moreover, it identifies what these companies can do to contribute to the adoption of e-Mobility.
Though the pace of EV adoption already exceeds expectations, there are three major pain points that could prove to be an obstacle in the uptake of EVs and the transition to e-Mobility: the readiness of vehicles, range anxiety and the ability to charge quickly.
Forces in the market are addressing the first two issues. The third is dependent on charge point operators (CPOs) and their ability to secure permissions to install infrastructure, and on grid operators, which are responsible for connecting the charge points to the power grid. For e-Mobility to ‘work’, it needs a safe and resilient grid, supported by technology solutions to mitigate the impact of EVs on local networks. Distribution system operators (DSOs) are essential in making the evolution of transportation a reality.
Winning over customers is key
However, the adoption of e-Mobility is not just an economic, environmental or technical phenomenon. It also has a psychological component pertaining to customer acceptance. While the pace of change is swift, it is the customers who have the power to either drive the transition, or to stop it altogether.
The mass adoption of EVs will truly switch into gear when customers are won over. This, in turn, hinges on the affordability of EVs, a charging infrastructure that will allow them to charge everywhere, all the time, and a smooth overall driving experience.
Stakeholders must collaborate
According to the latest predictions, 130 million EVs will travel the roads by 2035. All worries aside, the electricity grid will not collapse due to the relative increase in power demand. However, once the penetration of EVs hits 50% on urban distribution networks, unmanaged charging could lead to voltage deviations and affect the quality of power supply.
To prevent this from happening, key stakeholders in the e-Mobility ecosystem will need to work together closely. Power and utilities companies, for example, play a critical role in enabling e-Mobility acceleration by providing a resilient grid to enable timely customer connections to charging infrastructure. Failing to manage the charging infrastructure could lead to major congestion, with already heavily loaded grids becoming bottlenecks in e-Mobility rollout.
Smart charging and smart grids
The answer to manage grid capacity and prevent it from caving under the pressure of millions of EVs charging at once lies in a digital interface. Using algorithms, it will be able to read grid load and shift EV demand to moments during the day when there is more than enough cheap, green energy.
Deploying smart grids is the basis for DSOs to obtain the necessary information about the grids they operate. Meanwhile, analysis of current and future needs will enable them to determine grid reinforcement or flexibility solutions needed to answer the demand of EVs.
Back to the customer
Whatever innovation is implemented at the grid level must always serve the convenience of the customer. As mentioned before, they are key to ensure the future of mobility. If their needs are not met, the overall cost of investment could increase, while the trust between EV drivers and service providers decreases.
Governments also play an important part in boosting customer confidence. Policies, regulations and attractive incentives can all heighten EV demand. If all these conditions align around the customer, nothing stands in the way of a green, seamless and frictionless transition to e-Mobility.
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