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Software shows simultaneous power grid EV charging capacity

Posted: 07 Apr 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Fraunhofer IOSB  power grid  electric vehicle  software 

A team of researchers from Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB has created a prototype software programme that reveals how much load a power grid's low voltage network can handle and predict how many electric vehicles can be effectively connected to the grid.

The software has been developed in response to the rising number of electric vehicles on German roads that are putting grid operators under pressure. Low voltage networks for domestic consumers are not designed for the kind of loads that are generated by recharging electric vehicles at home.

"A vehicle draws up to 22kW of power. So if you have multiple vehicles plugged in at the same time, then current grids quickly reach their limits," said Michael Agsten from the Advanced System Technology (AST) Department at the Ilmenau site of the Fraunhofer IOSB.

Power grid low voltage network

When multiple electric vehicles plug in at the same time, existing power grids quickly reach the limit of their capacity. Fraunhofer has developed a software programme that shows grid operators how much load their low voltage network can handle. (OpenStreetMap/Fraunhofer IOSB-AST)

The software has been developed to allow grid operators to plan in advance and find answers to key questions. For example: How will connecting one more vehicle affect the load distribution? At what point should we invest in our networks to ensure we maintain enough capacity? Is it better to spend money on new copper cables or invest in smart charge spots? A prototype of the software programme has been created as part of the 'Managed Charging 3.0' project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). "The IT platform is already running very smoothly in the laboratory with test data. In the next stage we're hoping to analyse real distribution grids," said Agsten.

The software shows how many charging processes can run simultaneously without hitting the limits set by statutory requirements or by the grid operator. Each electricity substation typically supplies power to 150 or more households. If you assume that a certain proportion of households will own an electric vehicle in the future and plug the vehicle in at some point in time, then you are left with an inconceivably high number of charging scenarios. That's because it is impossible to predict which households will charge their electric vehicles at any one point in time.

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