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Audi trials EV charging technology that will protect the grid

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Audi has begun trialling technology that will optimise the way electric vehicles charge in order to protect the grid. 

The electric vehicle revolution could potentially pose a problem to the grid as today’s electricity network hasn’t been designed for millions of cars to be charging simultaneously. Audi doesn’t want a situation where streets across the country go dark because of its vehicles, so it’s begun trialling grid-optimised charging that will relieve the grid when it’s most at pressure. 

As part of a research project, Audi collaborated with GISA and other partners to simulate an overload scenario in the local power grid: multiple electric cars charging simultaneously and with high power on a street supplied by a local network transformer.

Grid-optimised charging is designed to counteract this scenario through the intelligent management of charging procedures, thereby preventing a grid overload. 

Dynamic management of the charging procedure is achieved through targeted communication between the electric car and the grid operator. In practice, this will mean delayed charging, taking into account the desired time of departure and the actual load in the power grid. At the end of the day, the test shows a win-win situation: The electric car uses downtime to fully charge with dynamic charging capacity adjustment while also relieving the power grid without restricting the customers’ mobility needs.

How grid-optimised charging works

What Audi is proposing isn’t exactly revolutionary and is actually fairly simple to achieve. That’s because grid-optimised charging leverages a smart meter gateway (SMGW), a device that is already mandatory today is a household’s power consumption exceeds 6,000 kWh per year.

The SMGW establishes a highly secure data connection between the house and the grid operator via a certified IT backend. Audi wants to loop the car into this conversation and ensure that it is optimising its load draw based on what’s going on with the grid. 

Audi says that if the grid calls for help, e-tron and e-tron Sportback models will be able to reduce their draw on the grid. The SMGW will be able to automatically call for the charging speeds to be reduced by up to 11 kW, or, upon request, up to 22 kW. 

This technology is already present in Audi’s e-tron models, but it notes that it will continue to roll it out to future electric models too, ensuring the grid remains stable during the electric vehicle revolution. 

Grid-optimised charging is different from Vehicle to Grid charging, however. This will just reduce the load a charging car is taking from the grid, while V2G will provide extra capacity.

What’s in it for car owners?

Audi understands that car owners may not be best pleased with their car not being available at the time they want it, but the company does say it will take into account departure times when it comes to reducing the power draw. The firm also said that drivers could be incentivised for helping the grid. 

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