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Electric Vehicles: An Exploration on Adoption and Impacts

Electric Vehicle Uptake and Charging Report:

Overview

Electric Vehicles (EVs) have the potential to bring substantial economic and environmental benefits, and electricity networks in Australia have a fundamental role in enabling their efficient adoption. However, if unmanaged, EVs might negatively impact the network and lead to significant network and generation investment, and security issues. It is therefore vital that networks are adequately prepared for EV adoption and to support customers’ future choice of transport.

Objectives

The project will aim to explore, with a range of both network-related and consumer-related research methodologies and tools, four key research areas over two temporal horizons (2030 and 2040):

  1. Customer acceptance and expectations around EVs;
  2. Distribution network impacts from unmanaged EVs;
  3. Distribution network integration of EVs using active management strategies;
  4. Techno-economic network and system integration of EVs.

Proposed Outcomes

The project findings will provide strategic inputs into the impacts from EVs and the role of EV management strategies and key recommendations and roadmap for EV deployment, including an updated view on how to drive positive customer response based on network studies and commercial and regulatory changes potentially required. A dataset for unmanaged and managed charging profiles which can be applied to demand forecast/network planning processes of Network Service Providers (NSPs).

The Project Definition 

1.1 Background 

Electricity networks in Australia have a fundamental role in enabling efficient Electric Vehicle (EV) adoption, which, if effectively achieved, can provide huge opportunities for improved network utilisation, decarbonisation of transport, integration of renewables, and economic growth altogether. However, if unmanaged, EVs have the potential to increase peak demand, leading to significant network and generation investment, and cause network security issues. It is therefore vital that networks are adequately prepared for EV adoption and to support our customers’ future choice of transport.

Significant uncertainty around customer expectations, future charging behaviour, and then the impacts on the grid is expected. Data gaps also will make it difficult for networks to prepare for an EV ‘tipping point’ in time, particularly the lack of visibility and control around residential charging. Energy Queensland’s Home Energy Survey indicate, for instance, that the tipping point for mass market adoption of EVs will be when the vehicle is below $50,000 with a range of 500km. How this would map into tipping points for network impact is yet to be understood. Consequently, as EVs will be a national phenomenon, a nationally consistent approach across all networks must be carried out to provide the most beneficial customer outcome. 

This project will explore the key customer interactions with EVs that can potentially flow through to our networks and, if not managed or understood properly, can also create adverse outcomes and lead to poor customer experiences. Suitable options for actively respond to network impact issues will also be sought.

The project will therefore aim to explore four key research areas associated with: 

1. Customer acceptance and expectations around EVs;

2. Distribution network impacts from unmanaged EVs;

3. Distribution network integration of EVs using management strategies;

4. Techno-economic network and system integration of EVs.

The findings from the project are expected to provide useful inputs into the impacts from EVs and the role of EV management strategies, which could also be used to inform future monitoring needs as well as connection requirements and/or standards.

The project will involve a range of both network-related and consumer-related research methodologies and tools. It will also leverage literature reviews of existing material and overseas experience to inform the long-term scope of work. 

The project will explore the above objectives over two time-horizons, namely, 2030 and 2040.

1.2 Objectives 

Customer acceptance and expectations around EVs

• Provide, based on Australian studies and surveys as well as overseas experiences, a report into customer behaviours and expectations about EV uptake, preferred charging patterns, incentives to manage charging patterns, etc.; 

Distribution network impacts from unmanaged EVs

• Develop a methodology to produce EV charging profiles based on travel distances, access to charging infrastructure, and main features of unmanaged charging (e.g., slow/fast, public/private, etc.); 

• Assess the geospatial network impacts due to EVs for 2030 and 2040, considering different EV penetration levels, types of networks, prevalence of public vs. private charging, etc., and provide relevant recommendations;

Distribution network integration of EVs using active management strategies

• Develop a methodology to investigate the effects of different EV management strategies (e.g., daytime charging, remote control of charging points for network integrity, etc.) on the distribution network; 

• Assess the geospatial network effects due to EV management strategies (with the same considerations used for unmanaged EVs), compare the benefits, and provide recommendations, including enabling infrastructure;

Techno-economic network and system integration of EVs

• Develop a methodology to assess, from a “whole-system” techno-economic perspective, opportunities and risks from different EV management strategies;

• Provide key recommendations and roadmap for EV deployment, including an updated view on how to drive positive customer response based on network and system studies, commercial and regulatory changes potentially required, and next steps for data gathering and standards definition;

• Based on the case studies to be considered, build a dataset for diversified unmanaged and managed charging profiles which can be applied to demand forecast/network planning processes, in a format that can be used by NSPs. 

1.3 Scope of works

Customer acceptance and expectations around EVs

• Literature review of previous research into consumer EV adoption, including domestic and international research and from network partners;

• An exploratory survey (with a sample of some 1,000 observations/households, possibly with both existing and potential EV owners) to gather general attitudes and preferences of consumers regarding charging, demand response programs, and incentives; 

• Based on our exploratory survey, other surveys, literature review, etc., understand customer charging behaviour (residential, commercial, fleet), expectation about EV adoption, etc., to support the development of scenarios to be studied. 

Distribution network impacts from unmanaged EVs

• Identify key demographic factors relevant to EV uptake and charging behaviours;

• Review available traffic data to understand travel patterns and how that impacts charging opportunities;

• Upon availability of relevant data for transport and electrical networks, as well as other relevant information, develop a spatial model combining demographic data and traffic data for use in spatial distribution of charging load scenarios;

• Work with NSPs to develop different charging scenarios models and other sensitivities that can be applied to charging profiles;

• Work with NSPs to develop distribution network models (ideally, including LV) of areas of interest (e.g., highly dense urban areas, semi-urban areas, etc.) to carry out the studies for the above scenarios. The number of networks to be modelled, however, will depend on data availability (network data and time-series demand data of individual customers) and time/resource constraints of the project;

• Model unmanaged charging behaviour on networks under the multiple scenarios developed and hence identify the key risks and opportunities.

Distribution network integration of EVs using management strategies

• Literature review on methods being used internationally by NSPs and applicability to Australian context, including the option of using EV as household storage device (substitute for static battery on site); 

• Work with NSPs to determine the most suitable management strategies for the Australian context;

• Model different EV management strategies such as daytime charging, remote control of charging points (e.g., disconnection, reduced capacity) and assess the resulting network behaviour, identifying key risks and opportunities. 

Techno-economic network and system integration of EVs

• Work with NSPs to determine what are the most important whole-system interactions of interest;

• Assess the potential impact, from a “whole-system” techno-economic perspective, of different EV management strategies, identifying key risks and opportunities.

Final Recommendations and Datasets

• Write a final report outlining the key findings from the project, including: o Customer preferences for charge management under different demographic circumstances;

o Identification of leading indicators to various technical an economic impacts due to EVs;

o Recommendations for further research and studies;

o Recommendations for interventions for maximising customer benefit whilst minimising network impacts.

• Based on the case studies to be considered, build a dataset for diversified unmanaged and managed charging profiles which can be applied to demand forecast/network planning processes, in a format that can be used by NSPs.

• A consolidated repository of the research, datasets and outcomes of the project will be made available online for NSPs to access.

1.4 Exclusions 

Out of scope: 

• EV provision of ancillary services, frequency support, etc.;

• Self-driving vehicles (although this might be touched upon if required);

• System-level support and impact modelling (although scenarios for network impact studies where aggregators control EVs for the purposes of system-level services may be considered; potential whole-system impacts of given management strategies may also be considered to provide insights into further risks and opportunities besides distribution networks);

• Detailed assessment of the role of connections and network interface standards, as well as opportunities for an ongoing EV monitoring program to provide long term insights – which were discussed would be left for future projects (however, it is likely that the project’s studies and outputs will provide some useful insights into these elements too and support design of future projects, trials, data gathering programmes, etc.). 

Stakeholders

  • Energy Networks Australia

    Energy Networks Australia is the national industry body representing Australia’s electricity transmission and distribution and gas distribution networks. Energy Network Australia members provide more than 16 million electricity and gas connections to almost every home and business across Australia.

  • The Australian Power Institute

    The Australian Power Institute (API) is a non for profit national organisation established by the electricity power industry to boost the quality and numbers of power engineering graduates with the skills and motivation for a career in the energy industry.

  • The University of Melbourne

    The University of Melbourne is a public research university located in Melbourne, Australia. Founded in 1853, it is Australia’s second oldest university and the oldest in Victoria.

  • C4NET

    The project lead, and a community leader in the promotion of new energy. C4Net favours evidence-based policy decision making and will data to inform the feasibility of microgrids.

Events

A series of webinars will present findings throughout the project.

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