As electric cars (EVs), become the norm, charging infrastructure will be a regular detail that blends into the landscape. It can be found in many places, including privately owned charging stations, office parking lots, garages, and government-provided locations. To maintain a stable grid for EV charging, we need a new energy blueprint in the United States.
Biden's administration announced that 500,000 charging stations would be installed across the country and additional energy storage will be added to support the transition to electric vehicles. All of this infrastructure must be integrated and transitioned. This will require balancing traffic and managing the increased energy demand beyond the power lines.
Most EV infrastructure draws its power from the grid. This will increase demand as it scales. The ideal scenario is for EV charging stations to have their own renewable power generation, which will be co-located with storage. However, new programs and solutions are required in order to make this available everywhere. In the United States, a variety of options have been explored for using renewables to power EV charging. Eventually, EVs may even be able to provide power to the grid.
These technological advancements will occur as we move through the energy transition. However, EV infrastructure will heavily depend on the U.S. grid. This makes it essential to coordinate across multiple stakeholders and encourage behavior change in the general public to ensure that the grid is stable while meeting energy demands.
According to the White House's fact sheet on EV charging infrastructure, the technical blueprint for which the Department of Energy (and the Electric Power Research Institute) will work together is the one that the White House has published. This is why it is crucial that the utilities, energy management, storage and general public are included in the planning.
Collaboration among stakeholders
The U.S. has a fragmented charging infrastructure. It is often privatized. There are also complaints that it is difficult to find charging stations while driving a Tesla. Some owners of EVs have returned to driving gasoline-powered cars. This is a reason to be optimistic that things will quickly change.
Two companies that are likely to become household names is EVgo and ChargePoint as they expand their EV networks. The Electric Highway Coalition is a coalition of the most powerful U.S utilities, including American Electric Power and Dominion Energy as well as Duke Energy, Duke Energy Energy, Entergy and Entergy. It announced plans to create a regional network for charging stations that spans their respective utility territories.
One piece of the puzzle is the network that can swap private gas stations for electric vehicle charging. It is important that everyone has access to charging and that the times of charging are not too long. This is a core concern for all stakeholders. Charging in multiple places helps spread out the demand and keeps power available.
There are many factors that affect the needs of consumers, including where they live and how they work. It doesn't work in rural areas. Imagine someone who works night shifts in dense urban areas.
Biden's plan includes $4 million to encourage strong partnership and new programs to increase workplace chargers regionally and nationally. This will increase the possibility of plug-in electric vehicle ownership for those in underserved areas.
A chance to fully engage technology we already have
John Kerry recently stated that fifty percent of the reductions necessary to reach net-zero in 2050 or 2045 will be made from technologies we don't yet possess. This caused a lot of controversy. Later, he clarified that there are technologies that we can use now. This was less talked about. We are only just beginning to use existing energy transition and renewable technologies.
Distributed energy storage and utility-scale are currently used for their most basic capabilities. This is to jump in when energy demand reaches peak, and help keep the grid stable via services known as frequency regulation and balancing. Peak demand will only increase as renewable energy penetration grows and loads like EVs become electrified.
It is well-known that storage is an important part of EV charging stations. Daily, on-site storage is used to supply power to charge cars. Utility-scale storage can also be used to store and supply renewable power to large amounts every day to balance the demand for EVs.
Stable power systems for EVs combine utilities and utility-scale storage with subsystems that allow energy storage to be co-located with electric vehicle charging. Each system is coordinated and synchronized to collect and dispatch energy at different times throughout the day, based on the various factors that impact grid stability and availability of renewable power. Intelligent energy management software uses sophisticated algorithms to predict and respond to changing conditions within fractions of seconds to manage this synchronization.
This model allows for the management of the electricity cost and EV demand. These subsystems could be located in municipalities or lower-income communities. This subsystem would store power and determine the local price. This could encourage residents to charge there at specific times of day to reduce the cost of charging. It would also provide an alternative to electricity prices during peak demand, such as when a home outlet is used.
Change your behavior
Utility companies will face the greatest challenge in managing EV loads. They must also motivate people to charge their cars more slowly, instead of waiting for everyone to come home at night during off-peak renewable energy periods. We would end up cooking dinner in darkness if everyone connected at once.
Although there has been some talk about incentivizing people to charge at different times, and spreading out the demand, motivations vary between demographics. Many people will prefer convenience over cost if they can charge their phones at home.
Currently, energy usage appears to be an isolated, independent event for consumers and households. Electric vehicles will require that everyone, from utilities to private charging stations to consumers, be more aware and more cooperative in order to make the grid more efficient.
A diverse charging network won't solve the problem of overtaxing grid. It is necessary to combine a new blueprint and behavior change in order to manage energy on the grid.