Cleantech Market Intelligence
Why Utilities and EV Owners Need Demand Response
As the electric vehicle (EV) market grows, so will the demands on the power grid. According to the Navigant Research report, Electric Vehicle Market Forecasts, plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) – both of which use energy stored in the grid – will grow rapidly in many regions. By 2020, 3 million PEVs are anticipated to be sold worldwide, resulting in a cumulative number of 13 million of such vehicles globally.
This robust growth is fueling concern among utilities about the additional demand for power when PEV owners plug in one or two cars at the end of the day, for overnight charging. The extra need for electricity could be a huge strain on the grid when a large number of people charge their cars at the same time. Therefore, utilities have begun to look into leveraging their demand response (DR) capability to manage the demand for power among these customers.
In or Out?
Austin Energy, for example, is testing an automated DR program for about 60 residential customers with PEVs to find out if it can effectively execute load curtailment in a fast, efficient, and reliable way. The utility sends a message to the PEV owners to notify them of upcoming trials, so that they can decide whether to participate or to opt out. Relying on AutoGrid’s Demand Response Optimization and Management System (DROMS), with charging stations from ChargePoint, Austin Energy conducted multiple DR tests in July. So far, the tests have been considered successful. On July 12, for example, 90% of the utility’s DR customers with an ecobee thermostat and 100% of those with ChargePoint stations participated in the DR trial.
The Austin Energy trials highlight the power of DR in combination with electric vehicles. All residential PEV charging will take place at rates from 1 kilowatt (kW) to 6.6 kW, as limited by both the PEV owner’s garage outlet and the PEV’s onboard charger. Therefore, if 1,000 people in a given network decide to charge their PEV at the same time, rescheduling these charges can shed from 1 megawatt (MW) to 6.6 MW of power at a critical peak time. Because of the concern about power disruptions, utilities will be more than willing to pay for the ability to monitor and manage electricity demand from PEVs on their grid. They will reward customers for charging their PEVs on their own at off-peak hours as well. Besides reducing peak loads, utilities will also be able to leverage PEVs in order to balance the grid when there is an excess supply of power from intermittent renewables like wind and solar power. When a large number of PEV owners plug in their cars, they can dampen any major swings of electricity on the grid.
With the increasing adoption of PEVs, the deployment of DR to this market will become an essential strategy by utilities.