Grid Planning and Management

Electric vehicles (EVs) are new sources of demand for the electricity system. This demand, if not properly managed, may drive up system costs and require significant new investment.

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There is a significant opportunity to incentivize more grid-friendly charging behavior which better utilizes existing infrastructure, reduces grid infrastructure investment requirements, and even supports the broader grid integration of renewable energy. Put differently, the flexibility of EV charging, or lack thereof, can significantly affect the distribution grid. Grid planning and management is essential to incorporating increasing penetrations of EVs safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively.

Decision-makers must understand if, how, and when expected EV deployment will affect distribution system investment, planning, and operations. Managing the timing, duration, and location of EV charging can minimize distribution system upgrade requirements and operational costs. Smart electricity tariff design and communications technology and protocols can help to unlock a range of benefits. In the future, vehicle-to-grid functionality may provide additional grid benefits but will also require proper planning.


 Figure 1: Forms of Smart Charging 

Source: International Renewable Energy Agency

Key Actions for EV Market Development

To address EV grid planning and management needs, decision-makers can take the following actions:

  • Establish managed charging protocols so that EVs are a flexible load that aids in cost-effective grid investment and management.
  • Determine the rate structure that incentivizes EVs to charge when the grid load is off-peak.

Reading List and Case Studies

Impacts of Electric Vehicles on Power Systems

Women in Power System Transformation, 2022

Through the Women in Power System Transformation initiative, this graduate level course covers the challenges and remedies around integration of electric vehicles (EVs) to the grid, including current global efforts, projections, regulation, and policies in different countries. This course is focused on modeling issues, commercial software for EV integration studies, underlying mechanism and root-cause analysis, and potential synergy between variable renewable energy resources and EV integration. Download the course materials by clicking here.

Grid Integration of Electric Vehicles: A manual for policy makers

International Energy Agency, 2022

This policymakers manual is prepared under the framework of the Global Environment Facility programme aimed at supporting low- and middle-income economies in their transition to electric mobility. It aims to serve as a guide for policy makers to effectively integrate electric vehicle charging into the grid, thereby supporting road transport electrification and decarbonisation. The key steps can be summarised as preparing institutions for the shift to electric mobility, assessing the impacts on the grid, deploying measures for grid integration and improving power system planning. Each of these steps is informed by insights from various studies and inputs from international stakeholders, with recommendations based on best practices from around the world.

Electrifying Transit: A Guidebook for Implementing Battery Electric Buses

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021

The use of battery electric bus (BEBs) fleets is becoming more attractive to cities seeking to reduce emissions and traffic congestion. This guidebook is designed for decision-makers who may be considering implementing battery electric busses (BEBs), and includes potential solutions to address challenges such as upfront cost premiums, planning burdens, and BEB range that may slow development. BEB facts, data, and considerations for policymakers are identified, along with potential impacts of BEB on the electric grid and specific operation and maintenance considerations for BEBs. The report also discusses BEB costs and financing options, safety of BEBs and the associated codes and standards, hazards, and emergencies. Finally, the report examines project execution and long-term planning considerations. 

Preparing Distribution Utilities for Utility Scale Storage and Electric Vehicles

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2020

This report discusses the implications of increases in distributed energy resources, battery energy storage systems, and electric vehicles in India in the coming years. These emerging technologies can pose challenges to distribution utilities, forcing overhauls in planning and operational practices. The authors discuss how these technologies can also create challenges in power system infrastructure planning if not properly integrated.

Foundations of an Electric Mobility Strategy for the City of Mexicali

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2020

This report seeks to formulate a customized, practical, and data-driven framework to enable the city of Mexicali to transition their transport sector to cleaner electric mobility. The report discusses how Mexicali can utilize vehicle fleets as early adopters of plug-in electric vehicle technology, including ways to prioritize fleets for electrification, incentivize fleets to purchase plug-in electric vehicles, and understand how transport electrification can facilitate mass transit.

Electric Mobility and Development

The World Bank and the International Association of Public Transport, 2018

This paper assembles evidence, viewpoints, and analysis to help governments design and implement electric mobility programs that are effective at achieving their climate, economic, fiscal, technical, institutional, and policy goals.

Electrified Islands: The Road to E-Mobility in the Caribbean

Inter-American Dialogue, Inter-American Development Bank and the Organization of American States, 2020

This report examines the progress on and impediments to EV expansion in five case studies (Barbados, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic). It is based on the results of a high-level dialogue at the 2019 Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum, interviews with Caribbean stakeholders (including senior policymakers, regulators, utilities, and automakers), and supplemental research. The report evaluates the status of EV markets in each of the five jurisdictions, which are among those at the forefront of EV policy planning and adoption and those with the greatest untapped potential.

A Comprehensive Guide to Electric Vehicle Managed Charging

Smart Electric Power Alliance, 2019

This comprehensive guide provides readers with a complete understanding of managed charging. This includes potential benefits, the current industry state, utility program requirements, how managed charging communication pathways relay signals, and the vendor landscape to date. In addition, the report discusses never-before-published data collected and vetted by Smart Electric Power Alliance and numerous experts in the field.

Surat Municipal Corporation Bus Electrification Assessment

National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology, 2019

This report examines the potential for Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) to electrify its bus rapid transit system (BRTS) in Surat, India. Researchers from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory partnered with the Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology to collect data from SMC, log in-use GPS data of SMC buses, and analyze the results. The ensuing analysis focuses on the operational feasibility and life-cycle costs of battery-electric buses compared to diesel buses operated on eight BRTS routes out of four bus depots.

Preparing for an Electric Vehicle Future: How Utilities can Succeed

Smart Electric Power Alliance, 2019

Combining results from an industry survey with personal insights of utility industry experts, the paper delivers recommendations and best practices for improving how utilities should support, plan, and deploy EV charging infrastructure. With similar time horizons for realizing large EV deployments and utility infrastructure deployments, the message is clear: all utilities should be preparing today for significant EV penetration.

Critical Elements of Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Economics

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2017

This report explores the critical elements of V2G economics by summarizing the elements and costs of a V2G system. The report also describes V2G revenue-generating services and the business cases for providing these services, providing notes on real-world V2G applications and lists concerns related to V2G.

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