In the era of global commitment to clean energy alternatives and reduced carbon emissions, electric mobility (e-mobility) is emerging as a promising solution to decarbonise the transport sector, which accounts for approximately one-fifth of the world’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Globally, the number of electric vehicles (EV) surged to over 26 million in 2022, signifying a remarkable 60 per cent growth as compared to 2021. The European Union (EU) alone observed a surge in the registration of new EVs, with over 695,000 units registered in the last quarter of 2022. This marked a 30 per cent increase compared to the corresponding period the previous year. However, the widespread adoption of EVs faces difficulties such as unavailability of a reliable and accessible charging infrastructure and lack of seamless integration of EVs into the power grid. This integration is the key to optimising energy consumption, ensuring grid stability, and realising the full potential of renewable energy sources (RES).
Given the need for a widely available and reliable network of public charging points to support the rapidly increasing number of EVs on the road, both in the EU and the US, the European Commission’s (EC) Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) recently unveiled a comprehensive set of transatlantic technical recommendations for upgradation and expansion of EV charging infrastructure. Presented within the framework of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC), the ‘Transatlantic Technical Recommendations for Government-funded Implementation of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure’ is expected to serve as a guiding principle for policymakers and executing bodies for rapid rollout of smart charging infrastructure. Broadly, it will help set harmonised standards and remove trade barriers in addition to supporting RES integration, grid stability and greening the road transport. Particularly, policymakers can facilitate the success of vehicle-grid integration (VGI) at large scale by setting suitable frameworks for a transatlantic standard support strategy; systematic exchange and development of best practices; and bringing more certainty to public agencies and private investors, among other things.
Smart charging technology and grid integration
The joint report builds on more than a decade of close, pre-normative research cooperation between JRC and ANL and the consultations with government, research, industry, and grid-service stakeholders. It emphasises a multi-faceted approach to address the challenges and opportunities of smart charging technology and grid integration. The recommendations span three interconnected sets, each addressing a distinct aspect of this dynamic landscape.
Set I: Develop a joint standard support strategy
The first recommendation set underscores the significance of harmonised standards, codes, and regulations across the EU and the US. These harmonisation efforts serve a dual purpose. Firstly, they enable economies of scale for industries, thereby enhancing competitiveness in global markets. Secondly, they pave the way for effective interoperability between EVs, charging infrastructure, and the grid.
The collaborative endeavours of government research institutions involve technical validation of proposed standards, optimisation of testing methodologies, leveraging technical expertise, and engagement in pre-normative research activities. Priorities should include coordinated and more proactive involvement in Standards Development Organisations (SDOs). For adoption of unified standards and regulations for technical requirements in public funding, the measures to be implemented or in effect are:
- Mandating the utilisation of pertinent International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61851 and IEC 62196-2/-3 standards for light to medium-duty EV inlets and their corresponding EV Supply Equipment (EVSE) connectors.
- Requiring the use of International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 15118 standards when higher-level digital communication capabilities are provided by the EV charging device in publicly funded charging infrastructure, to support functions like intelligent charging and secure communication.
- Facilitating the adoption of United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) global technical regulation (GTR) Electric Vehicle Energy (EVE) 22 to establish a harmonised metric for the state of certified energy (SOCE) in EV batteries. (SOCE signifies the certified capacity of energy storage remaining within EV batteries and UN-ECE GTR EVE 22 establishes a uniform and dependable definition of SOCE).
- Encouraging ongoing work at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and SDOs concerning precise, affordable, and bi-directional metering for chargers for precise power consumption billing, intelligent grid management, and insights into charging energy market behavior.
- Expanding the scope of activities to foster consensus on high-level requirements encompassing aspects like communications, connectivity, interoperability, cybersecurity, resilience, safety, backward compatibility, future-proofing, and metrics, to provide a compatible communication solution between EVSE and the back-end or distribution grids.
To broaden efforts to facilitate future collaboration on standards, codes, test procedures, and supporting technology requirements, the opportunities for action include:
- Convening a forum of stakeholders to initiate a process aiming to develop a unified vision and strategy for codes and standards. This will involve identifying and addressing conflicting standards to eliminate barriers in smart charge management (SCM) and VGI.
- Expanding activities and allocating adequate human and financial resources to enhance involvement in leadership capacities with existing US, European, and international SDOs.
- Promoting increased coordination and information exchange between SDOs and consortiums of key stakeholders such as entities like Standard Setting Organisations (SS0s) and industry associations such as Charging Interface Initiative e. V. (CharIN), the Open Charge Alliance (OCA), and the EV Roaming Foundation, to expedite the consolidation and convergence of technical specifications.
- Expanding collaborative activities to facilitate the further development of standards and test procedures for diagnostic interoperability testing in VGI, as well as the creation of cost-effective field-testing equipment for both alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) charging.
Set II: Support development and implementation of cost-effective smart charging infrastructure
This aims to tackle the challenges inherent in the domains of and SCM, enabling the optimisation costs and technological potential.
For development and demonstration of VGI and SCM, the strategies that can be implemented include:
- Development and demonstration of smart charging ecosystems that align with utility operational environments. This entails meticulous consideration of the rules and regulations governing local and regional utilities, legacy system architectures, and communication protocols such as Distributed Network Protocol 3 (DNP3), Open Automated Demand Response (OpenADR), and Open Field Message Bus (OpenFMB). Furthermore, it involves alignment with international standardisation initiatives in grid automation, such as those under IEC 61850 and IEC 62325.
- Tackling additional constraints including deployment of e-mobility infrastructure in underserved and ecologically sensitive communities, with lessons shared from the execution of demonstration projects in diverse community settings, spanning rural, suburban, and high-density urban environments characterised by frequent curbside EV parking.
- Establishing a requirement for digitally connected and smart communication-capable publicly funded charging infrastructure to ensure open access and options for local control, thereby fostering the implementation of SCM programs.
- Implementing robust cybersecurity measures across communication layers and memory devices within the e-mobility charging ecosystem, encompassing VGI and SCM.
For preventing stranded assets through policies and experience application, the measure to be taken include:
- Averting reliance on proprietary networks for publicly funded EVSE installations to mitigate the risk of stranded assets due to loss of network providers for business or other reasons.
- Mandating that planning engineers and equipment providers integrate plans for upgrading charging devices and network communication capabilities in their proposals, to align with future demand dynamics.
- Encouraging the integration of over-the-air (OTA) update capabilities in new digitally connected EV infrastructure, enabling the addressing of security vulnerabilities, addition of features/upgrades, and resolution of reliability concerns.
- Spearheading endeavours to identify standardised diagnostics and data reporting methodologies to proactively identify charging failures linked to interoperability, communication, and other factors; to elevate the uptime of charging infrastructure.
Finally, mitigating soft costs of charging infrastructure installation via coordination and shared best practices would require steps like:
- Collaboration with government entities and private sector stakeholders to establish a systematically collated, analysed, and ranked information repository. This database will encapsulate insights concerning challenges and solutions encountered during the rollout and planning of charging infrastructure.
- Undertaking surveys encompassing experiences and challenges faced by communities, cities, and regions, including both technical and non-technical aspects, such as hardware availability, building permits, and grid-connection approvals.
- Dissemination of experiences relating to planning, financing, workflow, and permission negotiations through government-endorsed publications and online platforms, to facilitate the adoption of VGI and smart charging infrastructure, while also paving the way for innovative advancements like bidirectional vehicle-to-‘anything’ (V2X) charging.
Set III: Conduct pre-normative RD&D to support consumer, industry and grid
The third set of recommendations advocates for coordinated pre-normative research to unlock the full potential of smart charging technology. Research, development and demonstration (RD&D) is pivotal in evaluating the impact of EVs on grid reliability, investigating the capabilities of EVs to provide grid services, and optimising the efficiency of charging solutions. The integration of EVs into grid management strategies demands a thorough understanding of their potential, both as energy consumers and grid supporters. By fostering joint research endeavors, the EU and the US can harness collective expertise to pioneer innovative charging solutions that benefit consumers, industries, and the grid alike.
For coordinated research in enhancing grid reliability during mass EV charging, the actions that can be taken include:
- Undertaking comprehensive quantitative and qualitative assessments to determine the efficacy of EVs in supporting grid reliability through controlled, smart, and bidirectional charging.
- Collaborating with US and EU industries to harness the potential of EVs within the Distributed Energy Resources (DER) framework, optimising the use of EV energy storage for balancing intermittent renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
- Collaboration on establishing novel reliability metrics with industries to gauge the effects of innovative DER services, including those from EVs, on grid stability.
- Investigating innovative strategies aimed at mitigating the impact of EV charging infrastructure on distribution grids in diverse settings.
- Exploring simplified methods for conveying driver energy needs and departure times to the charge point management system (CPMS) in AC charging setups without requiring higher level communication (HLC), to foster effective grid-friendly charging, especially in low-power charging points.
Steps to be taken for coordinated RD&D for grid services enhancement include:
- Evaluating the efficacy of charge management strategies to discern which approaches yield maximum value for the grid.
- Analysing the role of EVs in facilitating enhanced integration of clean DER, with a focus on demand shifting and grid-optimised charging strategies over different time frames.
- Validating the capability of charging EVs and smart charge hubs to reliably provide load flexibility patterns, encompassing grid services like stabilisation, flexibility, and frequency regulation.
- Scrutinising communication latency requirements across devices within the charging infrastructure, considering the current state of technology to evaluate round-trip response times and frequency of communication control concerning SCM and grid services provisioning.
For development of efficient and consumer-friendly charging solutions while integrating EVs with the grid, measures can be initiated in:
- Fostering collaboration and sharing of pre-normative research outcomes related to electric energy efficiency of chargers containing power inverters and standby power consumption of various charger types.
- Compiling best practices for implementing smart charging infrastructure without substantially escalating standby power consumption.
- Extending technical support to local and regional EV adoption initiatives and utilities across different vehicle classes; utilising data mapping and analysis for optimised EVSE placement, grid impact projection, and incentives that strike a balance between customer benefits and grid stability.
- Identifying best practices for disseminating information to consumers, enhancing their comprehension and eventual acceptance of smart charging in light of economic advantages and charging functionality.
- Setting up demonstration projects to assess and address regulatory, policy, behavioral, and market barriers hindering the development of effective incentives for employing EVs to offer load flexibility for bulk power and distribution system services.
Finally, for RD&D of advanced charging solutions such as V2X and Wireless Power Transfer (WPT), action can be taken in the following directions:
- Development of test protocols to facilitate the certification of V2X-capable products, incorporating metrics for bidirectional power flow.
- Defining product certification prerequisites to enable V2G interactions while ensuring alignment with other DER standards, potentially collaborating with NIST, SSOs, DOE national laboratories, and manufacturers.
- Investigating the potential of V2X-capable vehicles to optimise the 24-hour demand curve by leveraging their storage capacity for load-shifting.
- Studying options for obtaining specific EV capacity and owner acceptance information for V2X maneuvers during the identification or charge-start stage.
- Assessing critical communication latencies pertinent to V2X in alignment with communication latency requirements recommendation.
- Supporting the implementation of WPT standards and best practices: such as ensuring electromagnetic compatibility of WPT through comprehensive efforts in quantifying electromagnetic stray fields and their impact on radio equipment, ideally through transatlantic approaches and maintaining a consistent exchange of findings with SDOs.
In the journey of innovation and sustainable transformation, the transatlantic technical recommendations are expected to play a big role in bringing together EVs and energy systems in a smooth manner. By following these recommendations, policymakers, industries, and stakeholders can work together to make the shift to cleaner energy and a better future. Developing harmonised standards will help minimise trade barriers while manufacturers and suppliers across the EU and the US could gain from international standards to cut costs and development times while retaining their competitiveness across global markets and fostering innovation.