Choosing between doing the wash or charging the electric car?
Will we have to choose between doing the wash first or charging the electric car? Michel Martens, director policy and research of car federation Febiac, thinks the Belgian electricity grid is not ready for having millions of cars charging when coming home after work. Electricity grid managing company Fluvius (former Eandis and Infrax) is rather confident though.
Martens believes it can be done with 1 million electric cars by 2030, but it will be a different story when going to 5 or 6 million cars, as is the goal in a further future. Himself living at Sint-Martens Lennik near Brussels, isn’t able to get a 400 Volt connection in his home town to quick charge an EV or doing energy-hungry tasks at the same time. Charging at the standard 230 V would take 12 hours, he says.
Experts are working on a smart system that can manage consumption, called ‘balancing’, making electricity cheaper or more expensive depending on the availability.
Distribution net manager, Fluvius, on the contrary, confirms the electricity grid is perfectly capable of providing enough electricity. “Those smart digital meters will play an important role in the process”, Bruno Verdoodt says.
“It is important, though, not to compare electric charging with refueling but rather with the charging session of your smartphone. People charge their smartphone when and where it’s convenient.”
Flemish Energy Minister, Lydia Peeters (Open Vld), refers to a study by the Commission for Electricity and Gas Regulation (CREG), showing that we only need 4% of extra energy for one million electric cars, now representing 2% of all cars driving around.
In the meantime, Fluvius has made a simulation of what the effect of one million electric cars by 2030 (driving an average of 50 km per day), would be on the distribution net. According to the simulation, with today’s actual investments the situation should be workable.
“It is important, however, to charge in an intelligent way”, continues Verdoodt. “Let’s assume that most charging (70%) happens in the evening at home. This will happen with low tension and it will also take more time but that’s no problem when you’re asleep. 20% of charging can happen during the day in parking lots or at work and you will only need fast charging stations along the roads for the last 10% of charging.”
Verdoordt: “Goal is to make the electricity system flexible when it comes to price-fixing: people will pay more when the offer is scarce, and they will pay less when there is a large supply available from solar energy or at night, when industry doesn’t need that much electricity.”