The electricity industry is waking up to the prospect of large-scale deployments of EVs. And well it might, as all signs point to a future where EVs are increasingly common. Annual demand from EVs for electricity could exceed 400 TWh by 2035, creating the largest opportunity for new load growth in a generation. However, EVs will also pose significant problems to network utilities, particularly in areas where grids are already constrained. The future EV market presents many opportunities and sizeable threats to the utilities industry.
EVs Present Unique Opportunities and Challenges
EV integration is a complex and unique issue. When EVs charge, they are loads; when idle, they are storage; and when dispatching back into a network, they are sources of supply. They also move around, so utilities will never have full visibility of their location.
EV fleets and buses present different opportunities than individually owned cars. There is a complex and competitive ecosystem of stakeholders, some of which will be in direct competition with incumbent energy suppliers—there is little room for monopoly market thinking, even for vertically integrated utilities. The customer base is also diverse, with different needs and requirements. Complexity is only one issue. The future pace of change is arguably a tougher nut to crack. Utilities must prepare themselves for a dynamic and open future where change and uncertainty are the only constants.
Treat EVs Like Any Other IoT Deployment
A new Navigant white paper, Charging Ahead with EV Analytics, assesses the future EV market and details the many opportunities and sizeable threats they create. Its primary focus is on the data and analytics requirements of an EV infrastructure. Most if not all EV opportunities rely heavily on data and analytics. Likewise, analytics will also help mitigate many risks. While many utilities are excited about the opportunities presented by EVs, few have made significant investments in the data and analytics architecture that will support the diverse and rapidly changing processes that future EV business models demand.
One of the paper’s central messages is that the electrification of transport is in practice a digitization project. EVs and charging infrastructure are essentially IoT deployments. Consequently, EV business models rely heavily on IoT devices and an associated data and analytics platform. While a handful of utilities are actively planning their future IT infrastructure to support EV integration, many more recognize the EV opportunity but have not yet built solid strategies.
Now Is the Best Time to Start EV Planning
The business process requirements of EVs will change over the coming decades. It is a futile exercise to design and build an entire infrastructure around projected future requirements. Instead, a flexible approach to architecture will enable a utility to adapt to these changing requirements. A detailed roadmap that identifies specific inflection points in EV adoption will act as a signal for when to add or remove functionality.
2025 is often cited as the year EVs step into the mainstream. While this may seem a long way off, it is far better to plan now when EVs are not an operational problem than when they are. There is good reason to act now. There are strong arguments for EV adoption to follow an S curve. The further into the future, the faster the rate of adoption. Planning for EVs while there is time to spare can help avoid having to rush critical decisions once time is scarce.
Tags: Clean Transportation, Distributed Energy Resources, Electric Vehicles, Energy Storage, Policy & Regulation
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