A city’s electrical grid and utility companies are, without a doubt, affected by the rise of electric vehicles. As more and more drivers see the benefits of an EV, and as the restrictions of charging stations begin to disappear, we can anticipate that the number of EVs charging from a city’s grid will only increase. While charging an EV can be as simple as plugging a drip charger into an existing outlet, as the volume of EVs grow, the impact on the grid will force major changes.
Grids have a history of adjusting
But EVs sure aren’t the first alternative to existing inventions we’ve seen shake up a city’s infrastructure. In fact, cities all over the world have had to adjust to game changing inventions that draw from the grid throughout history. The key to that sentence is the word “adjust”. With these kinds of advancements existing infrastructure needs to evaluate their role in the new technology and find the most effective way to proceed.
The more studies, the better
Utility companies will benefit from involvement in any and all EV studies to learn what will happen to their grid as EV adoption grows. Concepts to consider in these studies include:
1. Charging Habits – If there are certain hours where the grid is strained because a large number of EV owners are charging, time-of-use rates will need to reflect this to add incentive to charge on the off-times. Ways to store energy to use during these times will also need to be considered.
2. Charging Modes – Utility companies will need to plan on the grid impact for existing charging modes, but will also need to factor in new innovation. One of the biggest challenges EVs face is their charging times, so companies are racing to develop batteries with longer ranges and faster charging times. The draw from this new technology could be significant.
3. Non-residential fleets – It isn’t unreasonable to consider that businesses may start adopting EV cars. The success of businesses like Car2Go’s hybrid car share program shows that EV versions of similar ideas aren’t too far away.
4. Advancements in Energy Technology – As EV batteries improve, utilities will need to look at how their own industry is improving. This means an increased use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar.
In Canada, utility companies are being incredibly proactive and seem to be jumping into these EV studies. Toronto Hydro, Hydro Quebec, BC Hydro, Burlington Hydro, and Guelph Hydro are all publishing studies about how their cities will be affected by a future of electric vehicles.
The more knowledge utility companies can acquire about how their industry will change with the introduction of EVs, the better prepared they will be for the future of the grid.
Mark Marmer started in the trade back in 1973 and established Signature Electric in 1985. Having always enjoyed tinkering with electricity and working with his hands, the electrical trade was a natural choice for him. Working as an electrician you get a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction at the end of each day.
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