The number of home charging stations that are suitable for the smart charging of electric cars increased significantly in 2018. This is the conclusion of a study commissioned by the Dutch Flexible Power Alliance Network (FAN) Foundation and conducted by the Delta-EE research agency. Only 27% of the home charging points installed before the end of 2017 were suitable for flexible control, whereas this went up to 68% for home charging stations installed in 2018.
That is a considerable increase. Flexible control of home charging stations is necessary to enable smart charging and thus safeguard the reliability and the affordability of the public power grid. In 2018, some 70% of all charging stations in the Netherlands were located at user’s homes. These 120,000 home charging stations represent about 444 MW of capacity.
Areas for attention for smart home charging
The FAN Foundation, in which 15 leading energy organisations participate, aims to make all home charging stations suitable for smart control, using open standards. This has become necessary due to the rapid increase in the number of electric cars, which is posing a heavier burden on the power grid.
Smart charging will enable the peak load caused by home charging of electric cars to be reduced by 40% (study by E-laad & Enexis Groep ‘Flexibel laden achter de meter’ (Flexibility behind the meter), May 2020). Electric cars can also be used to maintain the stability of the power grid, and car owners can benefit from cheaper electricity in ‘off-peak hours’. Next to that, electric cars can be used to make optimum use of the generation of solar and wind energy.
The study revealed two areas for attention for the further development of smart home charging:
- Market parties often put closed systems into the market that have a limited possibility of unambiguous information recording and sharing.
- Owners of second-hand electric cars may be interested in cheap home charging solutions which are not always capable of flexible control.
At peak times (between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.), power demand in residential areas is high, reducing the capacity available for simultaneously charging all electric vehicles in the area at full power. If smart charging is applied, the charging speed is reduced considerably at such times. This is normally not a problem, since electric cars tend to be connected to the charging station throughout the evening and the night, although they actually only need to charge for a limited number of hours.
Smart charging also offers the owners of electric cars the opportunity to choose the best time for charging, e.g. when a lot of sustainable electricity is being generated by solar panels and wind turbines, as a result of which the price of electricity is low.
Three conditions have to be fulfilled to enable smart charging at home:
- The electric car should support smart charging
- The home charging station should support smart charging
- The owner must have signed a contract with an energy supplier or service provider to enable smart car charging
The need for standardisation in smart charging
Motorists should be able to easily switch energy suppliers or electric cars. A risk of the current developments in smart home charging is that the equipment that interacts with the car and the home charging station does not always work with open protocols or standards. Standardisation in ‘home energy management systems’ should prevent (future) users from ending up in a situation that is known as ‘vendor lock-in’, where they are limited to closed systems, from different providers, which all communicate and exchange data differently.
It will only be possible for motorists to switch energy suppliers or electric cars without any hassle, and for grid operators to keep the power grid reliable and affordable, if open standards for smart charging are used. Examples of widely supported open standards are the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) and the Open Smart Charging Protocol (OSCP) of the Open Charge Alliance.
Smart home charging and the energy transition
In order to enable optimum use to be made of the possibilities of home charging of electric cars in the future as well, FAN is advocating the following:
- All new charging stations should be suitable for smart charging
- Existing and future owners of electric cars should be informed about the importance of charging stations that support smart charging and the financial benefits this will bring for users
- Open protocols and standards in ‘home energy management systems’ to prevent future vendor lock-in for users