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Demand Response Management for EVs

Posted 02/21/2024

The accelerating shift towards sustainable lifestyles has fueled the adoption of electric vehicles as a primary mode of daily transportation. In 2023, Kelley Blue Book reported an unprecedented purchase of 1,189,051 electric vehicles in the United States alone, while global EV sales are projected to range between 9.6 million and 14 million battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Looking ahead to 2024, S&P Global Mobility anticipates 13.3 million global sales, with Bloomberg NEF forecasting an even higher figure of 16.7 million. The demand for innovative solutions to effectively manage EV energy consumption has never been more critical. Demand response management for electric vehicles is emerging as a pioneering solution, addressing the challenges associated with increasing EV adoption and contributing to the broader transition to a greener and more sustainable future. Blink Charging is innovating demand response management while steadfastly committing to delivering reliable and dependable EV chargers for the electric vehicle community.

  • Last year, Blink introduced a new demand response feature, enhancing grid management alongside existing local load management capabilities.

  • Load management facilitates cost reduction by sharing power among multiple chargers, while demand response enables hosts to engage in grid optimization programs.

  • Participation in demand response programs can lead to incentives from utility companies: the U.S. Department of Energy highlights the use of sensors and Automated Demand Response signals to prevent power overloads during peak demand, benefiting both utilities and businesses in terms of reliability and cost savings.

Here’s what you need to know about demand response and Blink.

What is Demand Response?

While electric vehicles are celebrated for their eco-friendly and efficient design, they present a challenge to the power grid during peak hours or certain energy events. Recognizing this, grid regulators and utility companies are actively considering demand response strategies for electric vehicles. These strategies take a proactive approach to harmonize energy supply and demand, integrate new energy sources, and offer financial incentives to encourage participation.

So what is Demand Response (DR)? In simpler terms, think of demand response as a sort of allocation system for electric power. The International Energy Agency (IEA) defines it as “balancing the demand on power grids by encouraging customers to shift electricity demand to times when electricity is more plentiful or other demand is lower, typically through prices or monetary incentives.” By utilizing automated demand response signals, utility providers can instruct residential and commercial sites to reduce energy consumption during energy events, thereby preventing blackout and brownout situations. The IEA predicts that by 2030, approximately 15% of annual electricity demand could be shifted using demand response strategies under the current growth of demand response, or up to 25% in a Net-Zero Scenario.

How Will Electric Vehicles Impact the Electricity Grid?

While electric vehicles will create new demand for the electricity grid, they will cause less than EV skeptics think. In a scenario with medium or high EV adoption, the United States would need to add 15-27 terawatt hours (TWh) annually by 2050. PwC projects that the EV load must rise from 24 TWh to 468 TWh by 2040, a 1850% increase, yet only “9% to 12% of the projected US grid capacity, which is under the current reserve margins.”

A significant portion of the United States electricity grid is outdated and in need of substantial upgrades to accommodate new demands. However, demand response and grid management technologies can help alleviate pressure and identify alternative approaches to meet these evolving needs. Automated Demand Response (ADR) technology offers a cost-effective solution to manage occasional surges in demand and minimize the need for expanding generation capabilities. While numerous utility customers have already embraced demand response programs, which adjust thermostats or turn off non-essential lights, there is now an opportunity to automatically reduce power at EV charging stations using automated signals. Blink’s demand response feature supports utility demand response programs, aiming to enhance grid management alongside existing load management capabilities.

The OpenADR Alliance’s benefits of ADR for utilities and energy service providers:

  • Increased grid reliability

  • Deferred capital investment

  • Attainment of DR goals

Benefits of ADR for commercial, industrial, and residential customers:

  • Impact mitigation of Critical Peak Pricing events

  • Monetized discretionary loads

  • Maximized utility incentives

Energy Management and EV Charging

In smart grid management, EV demand response can offer significant benefits in three key locations: residential, fleet, and industrial facilities. Home energy management systems (HEMS) play a crucial role in optimizing demand response, particularly when integrated with electric vehicles. A recent study published in Energy Informatics demonstrated the effectiveness of a HEMS utilizing a fuzzy logic controller (FLC) for intelligent scheduling and charging decisions, resulting in electricity cost reductions of 14.27-19.28% when coupled with solar power. This project prioritized cost reduction, enhanced energy utilization, and ensured alignment with user requirements, such as maintaining the EV battery’s state of charge during planned trips.

However, the impact extends beyond residential settings. According to a 2023 Gridpoint survey of energy and facilities managers in the United States and Canada, 99% of respondents expressed concern about escalating electricity bills. Additionally, 39% plan to implement demand response/demand management programs, while another 39% intend to integrate EV charging solutions. The “Demand Response in Industrial Facilities: Peak Electric Demand” report by the U.S. Department of Energy offers valuable guidance to utilities and companies participating in the Better Buildings, Better Plants program, which encourages U.S. manufacturers to adopt energy efficiency practices. Research indicates that “nearly all medium and large commercial customers incur demand charges,” highlighting the financial implications. Industrial facilities stand to gain significant incentives for participating in an ADR program.

In addition to other technologies, battery energy storage systems, particularly those with combined with renewable energy sources like solar panels, offer backup power solutions for buildings. Emerging technology such as Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), which utilizes ISO15118 bidirectional EV charging, enables the transfer of electricity from an electric vehicle to a building during a blackout. Some Blink chargers, including the EQ 200*, already incorporate this capability. Leveraging fleet EVs parked in lots can serve as a consolidated energy source, presenting significant potential to address peak demand challenges. Electric vehicles can serve as valuable assets to the grid, contributing sustainably to the broader energy system.

Benefits and Challenges of EV Demand Response

Electric vehicle demand response programs offer significant benefits for grid stability and efficiency. These utility programs enable current consumers to adjust electricity usage during peak periods, thereby reducing stress on the grid and mitigating blackouts. Financial incentives, such as lower rates or rebates, drive participation, with tactics like time-of-use rates and load control devices proving effective. Real-world examples, such as the PG&E's case study, demonstrate how managing EVs as flexible loads optimizes grid operations, increases renewables utilization, and cuts greenhouse gas emissions. However, challenges persist in optimizing the synergy between EVs and demand response. The surge in EV adoption, propelled by factors like government incentives, necessitates addressing grid strain issues. Demand response presents a viable solution to mitigate these challenges. Yet, obstacles such as grid overloading, coordinated communication, user behavior, and data security must be addressed. Implementing smart charging infrastructure, adhering to open standards, promoting off-peak charging, and bolstering robust cybersecurity measures are crucial steps for efficient integration. As EV adoption continues to rise, aligning them with demand response becomes increasingly vital for a sustainable energy future. The benefits, including grid stabilization, load shifting, and cost savings, are evident. However, addressing challenges like grid strain and communication is essential for successful integration of EVs into the demand response programs. By implementing practical solutions, we can optimize the synergy between EVs and demand response, ensuring a reliable, efficient, and eco-friendly energy ecosystem.

How Blink Helps Grid Management

Available with Series X charging stations, Blink's demand response management feature is specifically designed to assist facilities in adopting sustainable transportation practices. In addition to utilizing load management for energy optimization at the station or location level and scheduling charging for fleets, Blink hosts can anticipate the ability to participate in a demand response program when offered by the utility.

Learn how electric vehicles and demand response impact LEED.

Sharing power between EVs via Blink's load management feature.

At Blink, reliability is paramount, and we are dedicated to delivering the smart solutions that charging station hosts require when installing and managing EV charging stations. By listening to our hosts and EV drivers and addressing the challenges posed by increasing EV demand, Blink’s approach ensures efficient energy utilization and contributes to the creation of a resilient, eco-friendly energy ecosystem. As electric vehicles play a more significant role in demand response initiatives, the potential benefits for grid stability, environmental preservation, and user cost savings become increasingly evident. The future of transportation encompasses not only electric vehicles but also intelligent management, sustainability, and responsive grid solutions. Learn more about how EVs and Blink Charging help reduce emissions.

* Currently available in European markets.

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