When electric vehicles (EVs) become a favoured transportation option for Indians, policy makers need to think about the ecosystem it will require, and it is much more than just planning for charging stations.

One factor least talked about, or planned for, in the penetration of EV is the load it will put on the power distribution grid.

The entry stage of EVs into the Indian market may be much easier than when the market transitions to a more advanced growth stage.

A research report released by the Florence School of Regulation to announce the entry of its FSR Global Energy Regulatory Hub in India, explores the impact of additional EV load on the power system, and the best ways to manage it.

EVs and energy consumption

Titled, “Charging Up India’s Electric Vehicles: Infrastructure Deployment & Power System Integration”, the report notes that the forecast for 2030 indicates that the total energy consumption of EVs in India will be about 3 per cent of the total demand, which would not have significant impact on the power system.

However, as the EV market grows, if charging is not distributed vis-a-vis time and location, it may lead to increase in peak demand, grid ageing and could result in problems such as service interruption due to grid congestion.

The report explains that the EV as a load represents “a unique additional electrical load that is mobile, power dense, variable and mostly connected to the distribution grid”. Therefore, the research emphasises that from the introductory stage of EV market development, long-term power planning should anticipate the growth of EV adoption and the deployment of charging infrastructure.

Multiple solutions

The report suggests various solutions that can help manage the load. These include the shifting of charging load to off peak hours through time-varying energy tariffs and demand tariffs. However, it points out that this would require better penetration of enabling technologies such as smart meters and business-model innovation.

It also recommends dealing effectively with grid congestion by regularly publishing information on the state of the grid so that optimal use of the charging infrastructure is made.

The report, which hopes to frame a debate on the deployment of infrastructure for EVs and power system integration, concludes with the need to identify the most appropriate solutions “supported by regulatory sandboxes (live-testing of innovations) both at the national- and state-level that help in testing different solutions to gain better insights.”

The FSR Global Energy Regulatory Hub will facilitate the development of effective energy policy in Asia, Latin America and Africa. It aims to foster collaboration among stakeholders around the world for access to actionable knowledge.