Electric Vehicles – Friend or Foe of Utilities
- Nov 17, 2021 6:41 am GMT
Electric vehicles (EVs) include various types of vehicles like two-wheelers, cars, buses, and commercial vehicles. The EVs can be categorized into three types i.e., Battery electric vehicles (BEVs), Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs).
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) are powered completely by electricity and have an electric motor powered entirely by a large electric battery in place of combustion engine, fuel tank and exhaust pipe. The owner must charge battery via plugging in to an external power outlet.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) are most common types and use both combustion engine and electric motor with electric battery. The onboard computer decides when to use fuel vs battery. The battery does not need to be charged externally as the battery gets charged with a process called “Regenerative Braking”, i.e., the battery gets charged a little every time the brake is touched.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are midway between Battery electric vehicles and Hybrid Electric Vehicles. These vehicles have both electric motor that needs to be charged via external power outlet as well as fuel-based combustion engine. The key difference in PHEVs compared to HEVs & BHE is that PHEVs can travel longer on battery power compared to HEVs but much shorter than BHEVs.
BEVs and PHEVs have impact on Power Grid as both require External power outlet to charge batteries. It is projected that if 70-80% of all cars become electric, the electricity demand would increase by 15-20%. But, if the other vehicle types like two wheelers, buses and commercial vehicles also increase by 20-30%, that would mean additional 20% electricity demand. The market growth so far has primarily been seen in Electric cars compared to other vehicle types. This additional demand poses a challenge as well as a key opportunity for utilities.
EVs can provide flexibility to the electricity supply chain. Rather than looking at the EVs as a threat or a cause of demand fluctuation causing instability, EVs should be looked as a sustainable mechanism for transport as well as a source of energy. As EVs are literally batteries on wheels. They make it possible for electricity to be stored and used later. The EV charges and EVs together can provide an answer to sustainably add significant capacity to offset peak demand with Smart Charging. Smart charging enables charging (and storing) at off peak times and sharing the stored energy during peak demand.
This becomes critical, especially in today’s world when we are struggling to firm up the sustainability agenda across the world. EVs provide a “real” solution to solving a big piece of the puzzle.
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