16 Apr 2021

Home EV off-peak smart charger trial offers power grid solutions - Vector

6:26 pm on 16 April 2021

Drains on the power grid from the transition to electric vehicles may be offset as lines company Vector expands a promising trial.

Charging an electric vehicle. EV. Electric car.

Photo: Unsplash / Andrew Roberts

The Climate Change Commission has called for the electrification of 40 percent of the country's light traffic fleet by 2035, but increased update of EVs would place significant pressure on the power grid and drive up home power bills in the future.

More consumers installing charging stations at home would mean even more stress on the power grid.

Vector chief executive Simon Mackenzie said the power grid was not designed to handle such an increase in loads.

"You might have one household worth of energy on a property and by virtue of putting a charger in your home - and not a fast charger or a super charger, it's just a pretty standard type of charger - that's like adding two more households worth of energy on your existing load."

"If there's more of those ... it becomes even more challenging for a network that's been built to manage loads, which for many years have been reasonably predictable and static."

Vector's trial over the past 18 months has however shown positive results in managing the extra loads.

"Basically, what we're trying to do is to use the pipe in the middle of the night rather than be using the poles and wires in the peak time, which is when everyone gets home from work," Vector chief public policy and regulatory officer Mark Toner said.

The company had been testing smart chargers, which would regulate the flow of power at peak times, and measure the satisfaction of customers who were having their power controlled.

"The satisfaction rates of the customers who are being smartly controlled versus those who aren't are virtually indistinguishable," Toner said.

Vector has extended the trial by another year in Auckland and is increasing the number of participants from 120 to 200.

Other issues to be tackled include the difficulty of charging vehicles when a household does not have off-street parking.

Mackenzie said it had invested in public fast charging stations and overseas charging pillars placed on streets like parking meters were used.

However, a report on the government's Genless website, which provides tips on how to reduce carbon emissions, said fast charging should be avoided as much as possible because it accelerated the degradation of the car's battery.

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