'Load balancing in the EV charging infrastructure.'

Suresh Kamath
09 Nov 2023
01:26 PM
3 Min Read

Its relevance for the Indian market.

Suresh Kamath, Managing Director, Avnet India mobility outlook

A real-time electricity load adjustment is critical for optimising the EV charging pattern. It helps determine a dynamic tariff system, reducing operating costs and CO2 emissions.

Further, Load management and balancing are key for service providers to avoid fines for taxing the grid during peak demand times. The EV charging load balancing ecosystem simply means the charging service provider can access electricity from the grid during off-peak hours and store it onsite to meet peak customer demand without paying peak-hour rates to the utility.

The current Indian-manufactured EV chargers do not have smart load-balancing capability. Hence, the right charger and procurement were identified over the last year, and we can expect the results in the next few years.

The Indian Grid

The grid in India is working on a complex algorithm that helps it balance the electricity supplied through different fuel sources. Hence, the whole ecosystem of EV charging will have to evolve in a country like India, which balances the grid on multiple fuel sources and experiences different demands based on time, weather and day. One can add more variables.

Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment must be connected to the electric grid for charging the battery and comply with the electricity grid code like other electrical equipment. Characteristics of the Indian power system are similar to that of Europe – 230V and 50Hz as per IEC standards.

Electric Vehicle users increasingly use home and workplace charging points for their core charging needs. However, experience shows that charging points at such locations must be engineered for safe charging with quality kits, proper electricity load management and meter installation.

Logistic Challenges

Developing private charging facilities in private spaces for captive use or semi-public sites such as commercial buildings, institutional buildings, workplaces, and private properties with no/restricted access to the common public in India is a key objective of the country's EV policy.

Last year, a pilot project by BSES witnessed the setting up of a smart managed EV charging station, which can charge five e-vehicles simultaneously. It is co-located at BSES Yamuna Power Limited's (BYPL) 11 kV Sub Station building in Mayur Vihar Extension Phase I.

Demand Response (DR) compatible smart managed charging stations, unlike conventional EV charging stations, can be integrated with BYPL's SCADA system – the state-of-the-art nerve system of the discom - and managed remotely.

It is also Demand Response (DR) compatible, an important demand side management (DSM) tool for utilities worldwide to flatten the load curve and 'peak shaving' of the electricity load during certain times. The growing incidence of the EV Charging load is adding to the peak power demand of the power utilities.

A few solutions in sight

Such DR-compatible smart managed EV charging stations will increasingly play an invaluable role in managing this power load through automated and efficient distribution network management in peak and off-peak hours. For example, during peak power demand or an unforeseen power exigency, the power supply to the EV charging station can be optimised, and the extra power diverted to the nearby residential and essential establishments without curtailing the functioning of the EV charging station.

Load sharing in EV charging is like managing any other scarce resource. You either leave it to market forces or implement policies that manage access to charging power that serves policy goals and the consumer. Given the urgent need to decarbonize transport, one such goal would be to accelerate the uptake of EVs by ensuring that users can access a limited charging capacity fairly.

The process will involve overcoming complex electrical engineering, electricity distribution, charging equipment infrastructure, regulatory, policy, and consumer behaviour issues. It will also demand rigorous attention to physical and cyber-security issues, especially as bidirectional charging schemes make our EVs part of our critical national infrastructure.

EVs with vehicle-to-grid capabilities could potentially contribute greatly to the power system. The services they can provide encompass both the ability to meet peak demand and an improved ability to provide ancillary services since each vehicle's battery can both charge and discharge to smooth fluctuations in demand or supply, in effect acting as distributed storage.

Building Partnership to make EV Charging a success

Addressing these issues will demand that EV supply equipment makers form strong partnerships to ensure they understand rapidly changing worldwide technical regulations on charger design, the impact of new policies and incentives on charging practices, cybersecurity challenges and new technology options.

The EV charging requirements depend on the specifications of the EV batteries, as power must be supplied to the battery at the right voltage and at the correct levels to permit charging. EV batteries' typical capacity and voltage vary among the different EV segments. E-2Ws and e-3Ws are powered by low-voltage batteries. Depending on their load-carrying capacity, electric LCVs will comprise low-voltage and high-voltage vehicles.

When private, semi-public EV charging is built within a facility, the Charge Point Operator (CPO) may choose to draw electricity from the existing power connection subject to load feasibility. CPOs or EV owners can apply for an exclusive electricity connection for EV charging within an establishment or for standalone charging facilities.

Large commercial and institutional establishments like malls, large office buildings, entertainment parks, etc., are preferred locations for providing EV charging points. Generally, these establishments have their own HT/LT connections with exclusive DTs and a highly sanctioned load.

In such circumstances, a convenient way is to provide a separate LT metered connection for EV charging from the existing HT connection.

Suresh Kamath is the Managing Director of Avnet India; views expressed are personal. 

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