E-car roll-out to take billions in grid investment as researchers explore alternatives
The roll-out of electric vehicles in Germany could lead to grid overload in the next five to 10 years if infrastructure isn’t updated, Ralph Diermann writes for Spiegel Online. According to a study by consultancy Oliver Wyman, up to 11 billion euros worth of investment is needed if local distribution grids are to cope with the supply and demand patterns expected at the point where e-vehicles make up around 50 percent of all German cars – unless alternative solutions such as flexible grid management are used, he writes. Utility EnBW is currently experimenting with smart e-car charging solutions in a suburb of Stuttgart and says initial results give cause for optimism that efficient management of charging patterns is possible. However, EnBW project manager Selma Lossau warns that the grid will need investment regardless of other measures. “Charging management and storage capacities will not be enough to guarantee supply security,” she says.
How the grid will cope with high numbers of e-cars is hotly debated, with predictions ranging from a heavy burden to a net benefit as car batteries provide storage to help balance intermittent renewable power production, as demonstrated in a pilot project by carmaker Daimler and grid operator TenneT.