An article recently published by Utility Dive discusses the implications the influx of Electric Vehicles on the road will have on the electrical grid. The concern is that the projected 20 million EVs on the road by 2030 could disrupt the grid, and the utilities’ ability to be profitable, if preparatory actions are not taken now by the utility companies. This estimated number of EVs is doubled from today’s 1.1 million, and over time this increase could potentially more than double electrical demand over time. This analysis is one that is pretty universally accepted in the industry and aligns with other well-known contributors, like Tony Seba. So, what is being proposed as a solution? The utility companies owning the charging stations and controlling who can charge and when in order to evenly distribute demand on the grid and the cost of that charging. (Sounds inconvenient? We thought so, too.) What Utility Dive’s article did not touch on is consumer-based solutions, as well as some futuristic technology solutions.
Probably the most direct solution for consumers to avoid utility-controlled charging is to own their charging port and energy production. This can be accomplished by installing a behind-the-meter PV solar system on their home that could charge their electric vehicle during the day, with battery back-ups that would provide the electricity needed to charge at night. This solution would allow the consumer to completely control when they charge, as well as their cost of charging since they are not creating demand on the utility grid.
Beyond homeowner adoption, commercially owned charging stations could provide a demand-break for the utility. Business-owned charging stations would allow for consumers and employees to charge during the day, therefore balancing the demand on the grid without the need to add “peakers” (power plants that only run when there is high demand) or other sources of load reduction. These commercially owned charging stations could also be powered by PV solar systems without the need for battery back up as they would be most utilized during the conventional work day.
Another more futuristic solution could be implemented by electric vehicle designers and manufacturers. As with the automotive industry in general, we will be seeing many improvements and changes to the electric vehicle design, capability, and efficiency in the coming years. What if one of these changes was the ability to charge itself? This could be accomplished through solar technology as well. What if solar was integrated into the cars design so that daytime charging happened anytime the sun was shining? This technology is already in testing and could drastically change the EV and utility game.
All-in-all, the great news is that times are changing, and electric vehicles are going to rule the road someday. What is yet to be seen is how the utility’s involvement in controlling demand response created by EV charging will affect consumers. At Arch Electric, we believe that photovoltaic systems, plus electric vehicles, equal sustainable transportation (PV+EV=ST). We strongly urge consumers to find behind-the-meter solutions to energy management that will decrease their energy dependence on the utility and put power (and money) back in their hands. If you are interested in learning more on how solar can improve your energy outlook, contact us today. We would love to provide you with a FREE solar assessment!
This post was written by Brianna Russell