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The Grid in the Age of Electric Vehicles, pt. II

To start with part one of this two-part blog series, click here.

The Grid in the Age of Electric Vehicles, pt. IIElectric vehicles (EVs) are not only redefining the role of energy in transportation, but they’re also transforming the wider energy landscape. Our previous blog explored how EVs have the potential to balance future power network pressures by acting as decentralized energy resources and assisting the electric grid during demand or supply spikes. However, this potential solution doesn’t come without its challenges. In the coming years, the rapid uptake of privately-owned EVs may create local constraints and stability problems for power networks if grid pressures are not managed correctly.

Future Trends

Other future trends may add to this disruption, as well. Mobility patterns are likely to change, especially in cities, as ride-sharing services proliferate and driverless cars integrate into electrified urban fleets. The rise of Mobility-as-a-Service is likely to see demand patterns for EV charging infrastructure evolve to the extent where some charging points – city apartments or garages, for instance – may no longer be required.

As fewer people own EVs and instead borrow them from mobility providers, demand for charging infrastructure could start to grow near public transportation hubs or private fleet depots. Multiple EVs can be aggregated at these locations and load profiles can be more tightly controlled. While this could create economies of scale in places where demand is highest, there is a risk of stranded assets elsewhere.

Smart Connectivity & AI

Even more transformative is the rise of smart connectivity and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. These may further enable prosumers – both businesses and individuals – to network with each other through the grid in a physical-virtual energy ecosystem we call MeshGrid.

One application of the MeshGrid ecosystem worth exploring is its ability to maximize value from microgeneration. In today’s world, energy users can sell energy back to the grid through a variety of options. But imagine a future in which an EV driver could:

  • Sell surplus electricity from their vehicle to their neighbor next door, or
  • Donate that energy to a local community center, or
  • Virtually bank the energy for future use.

P2P Electricity Trading

Integrating ledger platforms like Blockchain with the MeshGrid could help facilitate these peer-to-peer (P2P) electricity trading transactions. Surplus electricity exported to the MeshGrid could be represented as kWh credits or tokens for listing and purchase on the open market. (Each credit or token could also be accompanied by a tamper-proof data trail).

Under such a scenario, producers and consumers would be able to trade directly with each other and have more choice over their energy requirements, as well as greater access and transparency to pricing data. Whether this type of P2P trading becomes a mainstream reality remains to be seen, but deregulation and greater price liberalization in certain markets – such as France’s new law on self-consumption of renewables – may help pave the way for such developments.

To learn more about the disruptive power of electric vehicles and fleet electrification, check out our white paper