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E-mobility: innovation vs. impact in European electricity grids

Electromobility (or E-mobility) is a set of technologies that will significantly affect the daily lives of European and world citizens involved in traffic and transportation in the future. The e-mobility market has been aiming for a radical and significant shift in community mindset since the beginning of the 21st century. Innovations range from use of electric powertrain technologies, in-vehicle information and communication technologies and connected infrastructures to enable the electric propulsion of vehicles and fleets. fundamental objective of this new vision is the reduction of CO2 emissions in transportation sector, as one of the leading cause of climate change.

Doubling on the challenge, next-generation electric power systems are integrating various renewable energy resources, storage systems, controllable loads, and automated and intelligent management systems.

Due to the increasing penetration of distributed generation and new high-power consumption loads – such as electric vehicles (EVs) – utilities and electricity distribution system operators are facing new grid security challenges. DSOs have historically dealt with such issues by making investments in grid reinforcement. However, an alternative solution, enabled by the expected roll-out of smart meters and high penetration of flexible loads, would be the increased use of flexibility services. Flexible loads, including EVs, can adjust their consumption or even inject electricity back into the grid depending on grid conditions. In exchange, flexibility should be remunerated accordingly and European policy makers and regulators and working on drafting and implementing such actions.


What are 5 E-Mobility future trends to follow in 2022?


1. EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) Network development National and European initiatives to foster EV infrastructure deployment are rising. The EU has already committed to having more than 1 million new public charging points by 2030 and revising the infrastructure deployment directive. Each European country has also implemented incentives for EV adoption with a focus on EVSE installation. The uptake of the EVSE network will thus accelerate in all EU countries in 2022


2. MAAS (mobility-as-a-service) is a term used to describe digital technologies that provide consumers with mobility as a service. It is most commonly used to describe a mobile app that provides users with information, booking, and ticket purchase for a variety of modes of transportation. For example, a consumer can book, buy, and validate a rail ticket using a single mobile application and then use the same app to charge their electric automobile at a charging station.)


3. Plug and Charge - allows users to charge an electric vehicle by plugging it into a charging station. There is no need for a smartphone app or an RFID card because the charging station and the vehicle interact directly and pass on all required information to the parties, providing maximum data security.


4. Smart charging: refers to the modulation of power during EV charging sessions. The power can be modulated upwards or downwards to satisfy constraints or opportunities coming from the electrical systems. In addition to power modulation, EVs connected to charging stations could even be asked to re-inject part of the energy stored in their batteries into the electrical grid (Vehicle-to-Grid). Smart charging is subject to numerous R&D research projects and will be one of the trends to follow in 2022 and in the years to come.


5. DATA — marketed as new oil, data is a vital component of the decision-making process, the amount of data collected is rising exponentially. It can now detect, analyze, and predict market trends, thanks to the high expansion of the electromobility market in 2021. In the years ahead, effective data management will surely be a significant aspect of the success of electric mobility actors.


Integration of E-mobility in our X-FLEX project (www.xflexproject.eu)


Together with our consortium partners and particularly with strong engagement of demo site partners in Slovenia - companies Petrol and ElektroCelje, we are involved in demonstration activities within X-FLEX project, that are unlocking flexibility assets and allowing for new, innovative scenarios to be created in European electricity grids, including E-mobility.


X-FLEX consider electric vehicles as a flexible asset to provide flexibility to the system. To achieve certain flexibility levels, EV device and flexibility models are developed by appropriately defining and formalizing their flexibility features, as well as their control and response capabilities. Therefore, the scope of integration of the EV use case in X-FLEX is twofold:


• to provide accurate EV consumption profiles by taking into account the EV and charge station operational parameters based on real-time data as tracked from the charging points of the different demo sites.

• to define the level of flexibility, taking into account the demonstration of different smart charging alternatives along with the operational and technical constraints as incorporated in the analytics engine.


In the context of the X-FLEX project, the EV use case is integrated within the SERVIFLEX tool, a tool for aggregators managing a portfolio of flexible assets, some of whom will be Charging Points. Therefore, in this context, the problem is tackled from the point of view of the end-user (i.e. Charging Point Operator (CPO), EV drivers or Fleet Managers), since, in the overall framework, the smart grid operational requirements are covered by offering the available flexibility to the DSO (i.e. SERVIFLEX tool will enable aggregators to offer the flexibility of a set of controllable energy resources, while negotiations to allow DSO to access it will be negotiated within the MARKETFLEX tool). The main goal of the simulation in pilot site Luče was to study the robustness of the local LV network with a sudden uptake of EVs by the population living there. Within the scope of X-FLEX project, 9 EV chargers have been installed in households. The simulations were performed for one average week of winter when the total consumption in the LV grid is at its highest. The technical limitations of the charging stations available at the pilot site are also incorporated in the analysis in order to define models that best fit the demonstration scenarios of the project.

Results of this analysis will be presented this week at CIRED workshop, gathering industrial leaders in electricity distribution. In 2022, the workshop special issue will address “E-mobility and power distribution systems“. It will be held on 2-3 June 2022 in Porto, Portugal.

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