Build Electric Vehicle Infrastructure First, says Report

Range anxiety of electric vehicles are still a major concern for many consumers and utilities must relieve this.
Published: Wed 06 Aug 2014

The Global Smart Grid Federation (GSGF), comprised of national smart grid organizations from 15 countries and the European Union, has made a number of observations and recommendations with regards to the large-scale rollout of electric vehicles (EV) and their impact on the grid. The findings have been published in its newly released report on international developments in electric vehicles: Grid User Interactions and Interfaces June 2014 [pdf].

Range anxiety

While the technology as a whole -- and batteries in particular [Engerati-Tesla’s Gigafactory to Lower Battery Storage Costs.] - is evolving at break-neck speed, one of the biggest obstacles is range anxiety. While lithium air batteries are promising a lighter, longer-lasting, air breathing power source, there are still a number of challenges which we discussed recently in our article, Lithium Air Batteries-Gaining Ground in Electric Vehicles and Grid Storage.

The key, according to GSGF, is to increase the number of publicly-available charging stations. The reason for this is that with few electric vehicles, there is no real business incentive for commercial companies to build infrastructure. In addition, without sufficient charging stations, consumers are not buying electric vehicles. In our recent webinar, Laying the Foundations for Electric Vehicles-The ESB Story, Dermot McArdle, head of ESB ecars, discusses how a utility should plan ahead for large-scale electric vehicle adoption.

The GSGF therefore suggests that public infrastructure be installed prior to the rollout of vehicles, at least to a certain extent, in order to relieve anxiety.

Sustainable policies and standardization

In order to prepare for future large-scale electric vehicle deployment, it is imperative to focus on sustainable policies to support both infrastructure and vehicle deployment. The report cites several countries where the promotion for alternative fuel vehicles failed because incentives phased out too early. This occurred before successful introduction and before the market could stand on its own.

On the other hand, the report shows that countries which have succeeded in promoting alternative fuel vehicles also succeed in supporting infrastructure for the new fuel.

Interoperability and standardization are also essential; however, evolutions resulting from the interaction between technology producers and the safety restrictions of different power grids have resulted in the development of different standards for different countries and different brands.

Many countries have been, or are currently, testing electric vehicle to grid integration and have successfully demonstrated that these vehicles are geared up (excuse the pun) and ready to go.

The report's recommendation is sharing the outcomes of those experiences and grid analyses in order to enhance the value of electric vehicles, thereby leading to more consistent standards across countries globally. In an exclusive interview with Gunnar Lorenz, Head of Unit Networks, Eurelectric, standardization in the European region is discussed.