Brussels, Belgium --- (METERING.COM) --- October 20, 2010 - The European Union-funded Mobile Energy Resources in Grids of Electricity (MERGE) project, which is aimed to prepare the European electricity grid for the spread of electric vehicles (EVs), has announced its first results.

The €4.5 million project, which commenced in early 2010, involves a 16 partner consortium that includes utilities regulators, commercial organizations and universities with interests in the power generation, automotive, electronic commerce and hybrid and electric vehicle sectors across the entire European Union.

The initial results cover four studies relating to the early model development exercises that will enable the power grid operators to carry out more in-depth and detailed grid-scale modelling and simulation activities through the remainder of the project.

Requirements for plug-and-play charging

The first study – carried out by technology solution provider Ricardo and the Technische Universität Berlin – was concerned with defining the requirements for plug-and-play charging. The study found that the charging types are generally grouped into three different charging levels of increasing electrical power. Several different charging connectors are available, each with different functionality, but no single connector is available that contains all the functionality desired.

Further, the computational intelligence and the data requiring communication between each of the parties involved in the charging process varies substantially with the payment method used. This implies that the payment method used needs to be standardized to ensure that users can “roam” within Europe. It is also recommended for user authentication at the charging point that the observed trend of using radio frequency identification (RFID) is continued, with near field communication (NFC) being used in the long term if the technology gains wider acceptance.

Role of smart metering

The second study – carried out by Iberdrola and Red Eléctrica of Spain, INESC Porto of Portugal, Power Public Corporation of Greece, TU Berlin, Electricity Supply Board of Ireland, and InSpire of Norway – was aimed at investigating smart metering systems for EVs.

According to the study, the specification of technical characteristics of smart metering for EVs according to the desired functionalities and based on experience will impact the charging infrastructure. The charging infrastructure will have a variety of functional requirements, some of which will be met by the smart meter and others by various ancillary electronic systems. Most of the functionalities required for smart meters associated with EV charging are already available in existing smart meters, including basic DSM. More sophisticated DSM will require extra functionalities along with more demanding communications channel.

Role of microgrids

The third study – carried out by INESC Porto, Cardiff University, the National Technical University of Athens, Public Power Corporation of Greece, Ricardo and Red Eléctrica – examined how microgrid concepts can be used together with advanced control technologies in a smart grid implementation of EV charging.

The study identifies a possible framework to efficiently integrate EVs into electricity grids, avoiding network reinforcements, without compromising the grid. Using this framework, several charging strategies and possible ancillary services are possible, so that EV owners can be provided with a wide portfolio of contracts that they may choose from depending on their individual needs. The most basic charging strategy is “dumb” charging, followed by fixed tariff contract, smart charging and V2G mode.

Consumer behaviors

The final study – carried out by e-business intelligence provider IMR World, Ricardo and the TU Berlin – focuses on the identification of traffic patterns and human behaviors relating to the use of EVs. Based on a survey of over 1600 people across Europe, the study found that EVs would serve the needs of the majority of the responders, assuming that they could access an electricity supply to recharge the vehicle. Further, a significant majority would participate in smart control of charging, if multiple-tariff electricity rates were to incentivize it.

With a 10 percent penetration of EVs, “dumb” charging would increase daily peak demand levels by between 6 percent and 12 percent compared to the baseline peak demand, while smart charging with the charging load moved to the night-time, would cause no change to the baseline peak demand levels.

The first, second and fourth studies may be accessed here. The third study may be accessed here.