13 Jun 19

Swedish power grid outpaced by EV surge

Sweden’s increased government grants for EVs, which are part of the country’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2045, have not remained without effect. Between January and May, electric vehicle sales have surged by over 250%.

That should be applauded, but it also raises worries about the capacity of local power grids, forcing new charging networks to compete with other projects from housing to subway lines to get hooked up., Autonews reports.

Even though Sweden exported more than 10% of its electricity output last year, its aging grid is struggling to get the current to where it is most needed: the main cities, where demand has grown beyond expectation. Infrastructure works can take years, meaning that Stockholm will not be able to significantly boost power use until 2030, according to local grid manager Ellevio.

Yet, the solution for the lack of capacity lies in the increase of EVs – not on the roads, but as a power storage unit that helps to balance the grid. This is only possible with sufficient EVs being connected and able to share their power.

EVs and smart grids go hand in hand

Some suggest that owners should get incentives not to charge and even send power back to the grid during morning and afternoon peak hours. If enough cars are hooked up to the grid,  more EVs would lessen the capacity problem rather than worsening it.

That is exactly what Nissan has been saying for years, followed by its ally Renault. Indeed, bi-directional charging allows EVs to share electricity with the grid (V2G) rather than just charge. When there is a lot of wind and solar energy, cars like the Nissan Leaf can be put to use as a buffer. In other words, the owner charges his EV with very cheap power in such a case. When power is scarce and the car is not needed for transport, it can release some of its power back to the grid against a fee, which is greater than the cost of charging in periods of high production and low demand.

Graph: Inside EVs, EV sales blog data, 2019


Authored by: Dieter Quartier