Electric Vehicles and Utilities: A Call for Industry Synergy to Protect Power Grids

NERC urges synergy between utilities and EV makers to ensure grid stability and develop advanced, grid-supportive EV charging tech.

Nicholas Delate


Nicholas Delate


Mar 6, 2024

Electric Vehicles and Utilities: A Call for Industry Synergy to Protect Power Grids

Electric Vehicles and Utilities: A Call for Industry Synergy to Protect Power Grids

The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) has issued a clarion call to electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers and electric utilities, urging a joint effort to define "grid-friendly" charging practices. As reported by Utility Dive, a recent white paper from the corporation highlights the increasing risk to bulk power system reliability as EV sales surge, with 1.2 million units sold in the U.S. last year alone. Industry stakeholders are now tasked with designing solutions that not only cater to the growing EV market but also safeguard the integrity of the power grid.

In response to NERC's findings, Blink Charging's Chief Technology Officer Harjinder Bhade emphasized the necessity of nationwide initiatives for the efficient rollout of EV chargers. Among potential approaches are pricing models that harmonize charging with clean energy production and advancing the technology for EVs to contribute electricity back into the grid, indicating a proactive industry shift towards vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technologies.

Managing the EV Impact on Power Grids

Electric vehicles are reshaping local power dynamics, spurring concerns beyond neighborhood transformers to the broader electric grid. With EVs comprising 7.6% of new vehicle sales in 2023, a figure projected to surpass 10% in 2024, the utility sector is grappling with the need for enhanced cross-sector communication, stringent performance standards, and novel grid management techniques. Soo Jin Kim, NERC's Vice President of Engineering and Standards, calls for heightened industry awareness and cooperation to tackle these emergent challenges and harness the grid's potential for resilience and security.

Advancements in EV Charging Technology

To mitigate the potential adverse effects on power grid voltage levels, particularly in the wake of outages or fluctuations, NERC suggests an update in transmission planning and charger performance criteria that can accommodate region-specific needs. This push for technological refinement promises a new generation of EV charging systems that could offer more adaptable power consumption patterns and even infuse energy back into the grid, in line with the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities currently under study.

Utilidata's Jess Melanson, President and COO, underscores the urgency for modern solutions that allow for real-time understanding of the grid's operation in response to EV charging demands. The company's application of artificial intelligence in predicting EV charging behavior is a testament to the sector's readiness to innovate. In coordination with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Utilidata has engaged in pilot studies of EV usage, setting the stage for data-driven advancements and improved coordination between automakers and power providers.

Continued Momentum in EV-Grid Integration

As utilities worldwide gear up for an inevitable rise in EV-related electricity demands, the industry's progress hinges on the concurrent development of supportive infrastructure, collaborative policies, and consumer-focused programs. The emerging consensus among experts and stakeholders revolves around the integration of V2X technologies into mainstream practice, suggesting a future where electric vehicles are not just passive consumers of energy, but active participants in a dynamic and optimized energy ecosystem.

Indeed, the narrative shaping the utility sector is clear—a proactive embrace of innovation and strategic partnerships will be the cornerstone of navigating the electrified landscape of tomorrow. Fostering a robust, adaptable grid that not only facilitates but thrives on the proliferation of electric vehicles will be crucial for the next chapter in the utility industry's evolution.

Source: Utility Dive

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