From next year Germany’s residential grid operators will be empowered to restrict the flow of power to electric heat pumps and residential EV chargers to retain grid stability during peak demand.
Across Europe, the rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and the transition to more efficient means of heating homes via the use of heat pumps has resulted in a surge of additional grid-connected devices which place additional demand on the power grid. In Germany, installations of residential EV chargers and heat pumps have grown at a faster rate than investment into the grid stability required to support the additional demand.
New ruling means that grid operators in Germany won’t be able to simply block new EV charging wallboxes or heat pump installations which should help to ensure that future infrastructure rollout is sufficient to meet consumer demand. However, to help with grid stability, the 880 local grid operators will be able to throttle the devices when power demands reach a level that could overload the network or cause permanent damage to the grid. During throttling devices will receive a trickle of 4.2 kilowatts per hour.
DATAportl forecasts reveal that installations of EV charging wallboxes in Germany will grow by a factor of four from 2023 to 2031, meaning that pressure on the grid will continue to increase. Whilst throttling power is a short term solution to ensure stability during peak demand, investment into long term grid stability and increased capacity is certain to be required. 4.2KW of power during throttling times will be less than half of the available power from a typical 11kW wallbox installation. Whilst it’s likely many consumers will charge vehicles overnight and therefore periods of reduced available power will have little impact on consumer experience, the same grid operators throttling power are those offering incentives for electricity tariffs that allow for cheaper rates during reduced demand periods. If longer charging times mean that consumers fall into zones outside the cheaper tariff rates, the incentives will not be attractive.
A potential long-term solution may already exist in the concept of using the EV itself as a grid-connected storage device that can help stabilize the grid by feeding it with power during times of peak demand. While currently, only a handful of EVs offer this vehicle-to-grid (V2G) functionality, this is set to increase rapidly with almost 30% of EVs shipping in 2030 predicted to have bi-directional on-board chargers that enable this. EV manufacturers including Nissan, Ford, and Tesla have either launched or announced the upcoming inclusion of OBCs in their vehicles.
Further support for the grid during peak demand is also expected to be provided by growth in residential energy storage systems (ESS). As residential renewable energy installations (particularly solar) continue to grow globally and the price of batteries for storage continues to fall more homes are adding these solutions as a means of offsetting energy costs or becoming less grid dependent. These ESS solutions can also be connected to the grid and stored energy can be sold back into the grid via the energy utilities when needed.
Germany is ahead of many other countries globally in its vehicle electrification rollout. The challenges it is experiencing with grid stability will almost certainly be issues for other regions as they reach critical mass. Investment in grid infrastructure, both at a commercial and residential level, is critical to support the charging infrastructure rollout.
The original article is here.