The global power generation and delivery infrastructure has generally remained unchanged for the better part of a century. As more aspects of life have been electrified, the strain on the power delivery system has grown – rolling blackouts have already become the norm in some areas when demands are too great.
If the power supply and demand infrastructure continues “business as usual,” it will reach maximum capacity – unless extremely expensive upgrades are done. Implementing a fresh approach to energy supply and demand can prevent this from happening.
The Flexibility Market Concept
The Universal Smart Energy Framework (USEF) extrapolates from the concept of consumer energy flexibility and applies it to the entire energy market, creating new players who can operate under a variety of business models. The USEF delivers a single common standard to ensure that smart energy products and implementations easily integrate to create a more sustainable, green energy market. Implementing USEF enables large-scale deployment of smart energy grids.
At its most basic level, consumer power flexibility is giving individuals more options about whether and when to use energy. Then, the “flexibility” is aggregated to critical mass, reducing grid stress and congestion, eliminating the need for expensive grid upgrades, and preventing utilities from having to buy power from other energy providers at high-demand prices.
The flexibility aggregator – either the utility or a third party – uses AI and customer behavior analysis to determine what the expected flex demand will be for the next day to better plan for tomorrow’s power requirements. That flexibility can be monetized to reduce energy costs and improve capacity balancing.
Smart Energy Management and The Flexibility Market
Combining EV smart energy management with the flexibility market provides the electricity distribution system operator (DSO) more options for effective grid management. Smart energy management intelligently manages the energy chain to integrate batteries and renewables while managing energy demand response; while it can include vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging or V2 campus charging, it can also be single direction, grid-to-vehicle (G2V) charging. Smart energy management uses intelligence to ensure the safe delivery of power to electric vehicles without compromising on delivering electricity to offices and homes. It optimizes the infrastructure by shifting EV charging loads based on renewable supplies, the dynamic grid, and the needs of EV owners in aggregate.
A comprehensive smart energy management system dynamically distributes energy to and from the grid, where real-time monitoring of campus power needs and vehicle requirements are balanced based on the energy priorities and states of charge.
Demand side response (DSR) may also play a part in smart energy management, where demand must be reduced during times of system stress. In these cases, the smart energy management system may draw upon onsite batteries to provide the necessary power to charge the vehicles while simultaneously reducing the charging capacity of individual charge points, lengthening the time to charge while lowering the grid stress.
DSR, though, may become an issue if the system cannot reduce power demands. In that case, penalties for overtaxing the grid may be levied. The utility must buy power from the general capacity market at higher rates and passes along the expense.
In the Netherlands, Enexis (a DSO), TNO (a Dutch R&D organization), and ElaadNL (a smart mobility knowledge center) joined forces to run the Interflex pilot to demonstrate how a DSO could create a cost-effective grid infrastructure by using flexibility. They demonstrated that EV charging sessions before 10 am and after 4 pm delivered more than 50 percent flexibility potential for both time and energy. Consumers benefited from saving money and gaining personal satisfaction from helping “save the environment.”
The Role of Smart EV Charging
When it comes to the individual consumer, EV smart charging gives the option of scheduling charging based on power constraints, price, priority, and carbon creation issues. Instead of charging during peak times – before 10 am and after 4 pm, EV owners can be incentivized to charge during the very late nights/early mornings – 2 am-6 am, reducing congestion and power quality issues in the distribution grid.
From the perspective of the DSO, aggregated smart charging patterns provide better insights into ongoing grid requirements.
Furthermore, the evolution of home energy technologies, such as smart water heaters, heat pumps, and solar panels, can provide DSOs more flexibility for the long-term, as dependency on “traditional” grid-provided energy won’t always be necessary. In the long run, V2G will also play a role in allowing more flexible capacity.
Another aspect of EV adoption affecting the flexibility market may be “charging as a service,” where third-party service providers offer home or office-based EV charging for a flat monthly fee, and they interface directly with the DSOs within the flexibility market.
Smart Energy Management, EV Smart Charging & the Future of Flexibility
The flexibility market is an evolving concept. Smart energy management and smart EV charging are already established as solutions to address grid demands. V2G will become more commonly available and will play its part, as will renewables. As power storage technologies catch up with today’s requirements, the entire power infrastructure will be able to leverage even more opportunities in the flexibility market when it comes to the EV charging environment.