Researchers have investigated the extent to which charging electric cars affects the power grid. Night-time charging in particular can overload the networks. A rethink seems necessary.

In the coming years, a radical change will begin in one industry in particular: we are talking about the automotive industry. Because more and more people are switching to electric vehicles and are thus making a valuable contribution to environmental protection. We hardly have any other choice, as many countries will ban combustion engines completely in the next 20 years.

But electromobility also harbors risks. Because when it comes to security of supply, millions of e-cars could throw the power grid out of sync. One reason is that owners often charge their electric cars at night – at a time when electricity from sustainable sources is hardly available.

Electric cars: Overnight charging could overload the power grid

Researchers have also recognized this. However, a new study led by researcher Siobhan Powell from the Swiss Institute of Technology in Zurich also raises hope. But what could a world look like in 2035? At least in the USA, around 50 percent of all car owners could then own an electric car. With this information, the researchers fed an algorithm to simulate the effects on the power grid.

Should it come to that, nighttime electricity demand is likely to increase by around 25 percent. This is usually not a problem for a modern power grid, but it involves significant costs. Because there is a lot of solar energy available during the day compared to the night. However, if demand skyrockets at night, it has to be stored in expensive batteries during the day.

E-cars: Intelligent charging can reduce costs

If the power grid and charging behavior are optimized so that many people charge during the day, savings of between 700 million and 1.5 billion US dollars could be achieved. According to the researchers, however, there are no power outages to be feared either during the day or at night.

Nevertheless, the results make it clear how important an intelligent power grid is. On the one hand, there are the vehicle owners, who will be able to charge more during the day due to home office and mobile work. On the other hand, a power grid with different types of power storage is required. Then electric mobility should not only be sustainable, but also cheaper.

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