Electric vehicles and the European energy grids, the story continues…

 

Eric Feunteun_edited

 The first speaker on the conference was Eric Feunteun, Vice President Electric Vehicles Business Unit of Renault Nissan. He pointed out that electric vehicles are gaining market share, and rapidly so…

Indeed, EV’s and the European energy providers are going hand in hand towards an emission free mobility solution with clever distributed energy storage solutions.

Quite a mouthful, this paragraph.  But every element in it depicts indeed the way to go in the nearby future with our mobility. We attended an interesting Renault-Nissan alliance conference, where this brave new world was shown to us through a panel of significant speakers, at the latest edition of the EU Sustainable Energy Week.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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The idea is that the latest generation of EV’s can also be used as “energy hubs”, that can not only use, but also store and return electricity to the grid through Vehicle to Grid technology. We saw a lot of this already on the Nissan conference in London, and you can read our report on these columns.

Grids are becoming smarter, and more efficient, and we can now integrate renewable-based vehicle charging systems, which can send power back to the grid and make renewable sources more widely available. Lots of start-ups and young companies in Europe are seeing the light – literally- and work out new solutions.

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But this takes more. For instance, the right environment. This means in the first place the adaptation of the energy supply system, but also the coordination and streamlining of other energy sources and the policies which govern them. Like for instance… buildings and infrastructure, spatial and urban planning. One of the main challenges to be tackled first is regulatory standardization, creating a level playing field in Europe and its citizens as energy users… and individual, decentralized providers.

So researchers and investors are needed, stakeholders which provide the necessary resources to go ahead, once the regulatory frameworks are laid out. Last but not least, we need an awareness of the consumer, and a change in his behavior, or, otherwise said, the way he sees his or her mobility…

 Speakers with interesting views…

The first speaker on the conference was Eric Feunteun, Vice President Electric Vehicles Business Unit of Renault Nissan. He pointed out that electric vehicles are gaining market share, and rapidly so. The Renault ZOE has for instance already 13 % of sales in his segment in France. The cost of energy storage is also significantly reduced with the deployment of second life batteries. The residual value of batteries is captured through the leasing of batteries, opening further possibilities of returning energy to the respective national or European grids also through home storage systems.

Manuel Sanchez Jimenez_edited

The viewpoint of the European Commission was represented by Dr. Manuel Sanchez-Jimenez, Team Leader Smart Grids of the DG Energy. (See photo above).

He joined the European Commission already in 1996 as a Project Officer for Renewable Energies. He launched the European Task Force for Smart Grids in November 2009, which is presently advising the Commission on key policy topics, last but not least regulation and market models. He pointed out that the major trend is now towards decentralized, renewable energy, which will be provided in a flexible manner. This implies smart grids and intelligent markets. This means also an appropriate regulation to create the efficient and user friendly playing field. This regulation should focus on empowerment of the customers and consumers, and also endeavor the deployment of flexibility in markets

What will be needed are dynamic price contracts with dynamic tariffs and the roll-out of smart metering systems.

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The next speaker was Daniel Agostini, Head of Environmental and Low Carbon Policies, EU affairs department of ENEL group.

He is now responsible for the policy analysis and development of the position of ENEL on the environmental and low carbon policies in the more than 30 countries in which the ENEL group now operates.

He also insisted on further digitalizing the grid, which needs to modernize still faster. Also changing the regulations is urgent, making it fit for new resources and energy usage patterns, like battery-to-grid applications.

Pic Paul Sharp/Sharppix
Pic Paul Sharp/Sharppix

This speaker was followed by Senan McGrath, CEO with ESBeCars, a division of the largest Irish electricity utility ESB, which is established to roll out a national EV charging infrastructure. (see photo above)

The speaker was appointed as chair of the electro mobility working group of Eurelectric, the association of european utilities.

In this capacity he represents the utilities of Europe in dealings with the European Parliament and the European Commission.

He cited a recent study by Eurelectric indicating that there is sufficient capacity on the grids to cope with the extra consumption of large fleets of EV’s. Even if 100 % of our vehicles were electrical, we would need only 24 % extra capacity on the grid. It is all about smart charging, where the focus would lie on recharging your EV’s outside the peak consumption hours. The main issues would indeed be regulatory and market design.

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The next speaker, Francesco Carranza, Director Renault-Nissan Battery and Energy Services, is indeed the head of this new Renault-Nissan structure, managing the business related to electric vehicle-grid integration and to the stationary storage using electric vehicle batteries. He pointed out that cooperation of the energy sector with the regulatory authorities is of paramount importance. The efficiency of the grid has to be improved, and indeed one needs to realize that the life span of batteries exceeds that of the vehicles, and that they will have a second life in stationary applications.

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Markus Fendt, managing director of The Mobility House and having started his automotive career at Bosch, pointed out that there are two drivers transforming the energy markets: first of all the growth of renewables. In Germany, they provide presently about 30 pct. of the energy demand, and some days even cover up to 80 pct. of the consumption. The second driver is the progressive establishment of a smart grid. Indeed, regulations have to provide for more attractive pricing of smart charging.

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Very original and progressive comments were also delivered by Robin Berg, a sustainable entrepreneur who invested since 1999 in solar power generation. He started installing solar panels on school roofs in Utrecht, interconnected them and formed one of the first private grids in the country. He now is responsible for the first smart solar charging lab, and in 2015 he established his Smart Solar Charging consortium. He developed a remarkable AC 22 kW bi-directional charging station, and applied a car sharing program to this charging station. Further steps are made to expand this idea, the idea in the first stage is 1000 chargers for 1000 cars, with 15 communes around Utrecht participating in this regional energy system. Deploying this market model further is the paramount idea, discussions with the Dutch parliament are started up to adapt regulation.

Of course, EV users will have to be convinced to use green energy contracts, which is quite feasible as grids are presently already 54 pct. decarbonized.

As you can see, dear reader, a lot is happening on the energy and regulation front, to create a very bright future for EV mobility!

We will of course keep you informed about further developments in this field…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

 

 

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