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Switch to smart grid necessary for electric vehicle adoption

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Brisbane-based NOJA Power says electric vehicle recharging will place additional load on a strained electrical grid, but the solution could lay with renewable energy sources and smart grid technologies like automatic circuit reclosers.

Electric vehicles use electric motors for propulsion, and these are powered by on-board batteries. These batteries are recharged by plugging in to the electrical supply.

In the four years since 2008, 27,000 EVs have been sold in the U.S., and since 2009, 29,000 in Japan and 27,800 in China.

These fleets include popular cars such as the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. EV fleets are expected to continue to grow as range increases and prices fall.

The US is aiming to have one million EVs on its roads by 2015. The UK is targeting 1.7 million EVs by 2020, while industry experts predict one million EVs on Australian highways by 2022.

In 2010, Australian utilities generated 227 TWh of electricity, or around 622 GWh per day. A fleet of one million EVs would require about an additional 5 percent on top of this daily total to recharge its batteries. The situation would be exacerbated in peak conditions, such as hot summer days.

However, implementing smart grid technology could make the electricity network more flexible. Smart grid combines computerisation, digital communications, sensing and metering of the electricity network to create a bidirectional, interactive grid that encourages greater use of renewable energy sources

Smart grids equipped with automatic circuit reclosers (ACRs) allow the connection of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, wave and tidal. The use of these sources of energy would deliver the required energy for EV adoption, while ensuring that EVs deliver on their promise of carbon-free motoring.

ACRs are fundamental building blocks for smart grids. They help utilities closely match supply and demand, rapidly switch in renewable energy sources and protect the grid is essential if the future additional demand from EVs is to met.

NOJA Power supplies its OSM range of medium-voltage (15, 27 and 38 kV) ACRs, and they have been installed by utilities in over 80 countries around the world.

The ACRs have been subjected to full type testing by independent test laboratories, such as KEMA in the Netherlands, to the latest standards. NOJA Power’s ACRs use solid dielectrics, replacing the environmentally unfriendly oil or sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) gas of older products.

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