Smart Charging Could Significantly Reduce Need for Grid Expansion

Navigant investigates investment needed to harmonize German distribution grid with growing shares of e-mobility, heat pumps and renewable energy

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Navigant has identified levers to significantly reduce the need for grid expansion in view of increasing shares of electric mobility, heat pumps and renewable energy. Navigant prepared the study together with the Competence Center for Electromobility and RE-xpertise for Agora VerkehrswendeAgora Energiewende and RAP. 

The energy experts modeled distribution grid expansion requirements and the associated necessary investments at the medium and low-voltage levels of the German distribution grid, considering an ambitious ramp-up of renewable energy, heat pumps and electric cars.

One of the main cost saving levers concerns a comprehensive mobility transition with greater shares of public transport, shared mobility, cycling and pedestrian traffic instead of continuing the status quo. This would significantly reduce grid investment needs due to the lower number of vehicles on the road and increased utilization of vehicles.

Another important lever is smart charging, where loads are shifted to times when the grid is not congested, e.g. at nighttime. The benefits of widespread smart charging are already visible at a medium stage of electrification with 15 million cars around 2030: roughly 50% of grid investment needs can be saved if loads are shifted within the time frame that cars are connected to the charging point.

The current provisions on network charge discounts for load shifting, as foreseen in article 14a of Germany’s Energy Industry Law (EnWG), would have to be revised and expanded to unlock the full smart charging potential. The report thus proposes regulatory concepts to implement smart charging. The study also sets out the necessary control, communication and steering processes and the information and communication technology that is needed to implement various smart charging options.

Download the study (in German) from agora-verkehrswende.de.

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