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How to get the grid ready for the electric vehicle onslaught

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Electric vehicles are going to significantly increase demand on the grid, so the need for effective distributed asset management will also increase, as George Walker, managing director of energy automation specialist Novotek UK and Ireland, explains. 

On the road to an emission free economy, there are still several challenges to be overcome. One of the biggest challenges is building and operating an electricity distribution network for the increasing number of EV charging stations. With the UK Government announcing that the diesel and petrol vehicle ban will be implemented from 2030, EV charging networks now have 10 years less to prepare to distribute power to millions of charging points.

More electricity than ever will be coming from renewable resources, such as solar, tidal waves and wind. The UK is at the forefront of harnessing the power of the elements to produce green electricity, particularly from offshore wind sources. Feeding more renewable energy into the grid requires a network setup that allows for decentralised input and an efficient distribution to where demand for electricity is greatest.

Building the charging network for EVs faster requires putting an infrastructure in place that can manage the distributed assets effectively. Because of limited storage capacities, electricity needs be channelled by an even more effective control system.

The twin-pressures of more charging points for EVs and feeding more electricity from renewable sources into the grid will make the distribution management of decentralised assets more challenging. These developments mean that there will be more distributed assets that have to be controlled, on both the input as well as the output side of the electricity grid.

For operators of electricity networks, new ways of managing networks will have to be devised that are scalable and support remote system management. This will mean investing more in industrial automation platforms that can control all the decentralised assets of the network.

Solutions that can help include supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software, making it more manageable for the power companies managing large networks of distributed assets.  

An effective management of distributed assets requires investment in infrastructure, software and processes. If the UK is going to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars in 2030, it needs to be prepared to support the companies serving the charging networks with investment into the electricity distribution infrastructure.

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