February 23, 2022

Kickstarting the mobility revolution with vehicle grid integration

Uniting the previously separated sectors of mobility and energy through the electrification of transport is an exciting yet daunting task. Electric vehicle grid integration – interconnecting electric cars with the power grid – presents many challenges, but also many opportunities for enabling smarter, more holistic energy management in homes, businesses and across entire cities. 

There will be 130 million EVs on European roads by 2035. A study by Eurelectric and EY found that at the point EV penetration reaches 50% on an urban distribution network, unmanaged charging would cause network voltage deviations that affect the quality of power supply.

If drivers charge simultaneously in peak times, for example, this could cause power losses and eventually result in increased energy prices. The study found that with unmanaged charging, peak loads will rise by 86% in multi-unit dwellings and by 90% on highway corridors. To avoid this, electric cars and their charging infrastructure must be seamlessly and intelligently integrated into the grid from the outset. 

Increase in peak loads with unmanaged charging in multi-unit dwellings & on highway corridors

Vehicle grid integration starts with communication

It is crucial for utilities and energy providers to support a resilient grid, underpinned by digital capabilities. Shifting EV demand to times when green energy is cheap and plentiful, better connecting and leveraging battery capacity and incentivizing users to charge their cars in off-peak times are all important measures to turn EVs into grid assets. 

All of these measures start with communication. Devices (PV systems, batteries and chargers) and players along the value chain must be able to share data so that they, firstly, understand each other, and secondly, can optimize energy usage to avoid overloads and keep costs low. 

To advance this exact field and enable seamless communication between EVs and the grid, the Charging Interface (CharIN) e.V. and EEBUS e.V. signed a memorandum of understanding on February 22nd. Together the organizations intend to: determine and map use cases and implementation areas like Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G); explore end-to-end testing options, such as signal types and communication protocols; and tackle security and authorization issues. The end goal is global standardization that harmonizes the energy landscape, from the grid connection level to charging devices. 

Finding a common energy language


CharIN is an international association of vehicle manufacturers, energy providers and original equipment manufacturers who aim to establish the Combined Charging System (CCS) – a standard for charging EVs using Combo 1 and Combo 2 connectors to provides power up to 350kW – and Megawatt Charging System (MCS) – a charging connector for large battery electric vehicles – as the global standard for charging all EV types. They represent over 250 leading e-mobility stakeholders. 

EEBUS is a standard communication protocol, widely used to connect industrial electronic devices. It is defined by a standardization body consisting of multiple companies from different industries, who support several concrete use cases, including e-mobility. 

gridX is one of the 17 common members of both CHarIN and EEBUS, alongside other gridX-ready manufacturers EVBox, Webasto, Kostal, Mennekes and Schneider Electric. Such collaboration between players is essential to standardize and advance the integration of electric vehicles into the energy management of buildings.

Holistic energy management solutions

Our IoT-gateway, the gridBox, works with and builds on top of these protocols and standards to advance communication and integration between devices. For example, a communication endpoint can be provided from EEBUS devices and paired with our XENON platform to flexibly and intelligently control energy flows. 

In the context of e-mobility, EEBUS-connected electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) is able to exchange information with the gridBox, including: manufacturer information and error state; arriving/leaving EVs and their capabilities; per-phase charging power and current; charging limits to avoid overloads; and an incentive table based on the maximum charging power and EV capacity. By establishing connections between the gridBox, EVSE, a Smart Meter Gateway and an endless number of additional assets, energy flows can be holistically optimized to lower costs and increase the scalability potential of e-mobility projects. 

In addition to these use cases, gridX’s manufacturer-independent solution also supports various versions of Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), Modbus and devices from more than 35 manufacturers. This ensures seamless integration of devices on both the frontend and backend and, more specifically for e-mobility use cases, that electric vehicles can be more intelligently integrated into the grid. 

The gridX API, which helped distribution system operator Westnetz dynamically adjust power limits in response to the state of the grid, is another important tool for ensuring optimal utilization of the grid’s capacity and the acceleration of EV adoption. Beyond lowering costs for all parties, the XENON-based energy management system and the API lay the foundation for future innovation – dynamic network tariffs are already technically feasible within the system and as soon as the regulation allows, can be immediately implemented.

If grid limits aren’t communicated to the EV charging infrastructure, and the activity and requirements of electric cars not communicated back to the grid, blackouts and high prices will ensue. Users will thus lose faith in electric cars. But if charging stations are properly integrated into the power grid and with other assets, and processes are optimized with smart charging solutions, the first major hurdle of the mobility revolution can be overcome.

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Charging Report 2022
In our second report on public charging infrastructure in Germany we explore how EV charging has developed over recent years using data on 2,400+ charge point operators.
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