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The role of electric vehicles in smart grids


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The electrification of transportation is seen as one of the solutions to challenges such as global warming, sustainability, and geopolitical concerns on the availability of oil. From the perspective of power systems, an introduction of plug-in electric vehicles presents many challenges but also opportunities to the operation and planning of power systems. On the one hand, if vehicles are considered regular loads without flexibility, uncontrolled charging can lead to problems at different network levels endangering secure operation of installed assets. However, with direct or indirect control approaches the charging of vehicles can be managed in a desirable way, e.g., shifted to low-load hours. Furthermore, vehicles can be used as distributed storage resources to contribute to ancillary services for the system, such as frequency regulation and peak-shaving power or help integrate fluctuating renewable resources. All these modes of operation need appropriate regulatory frameworks and market design if the flexibility of the vehicles is to be capitalized. In most of the proposed approaches, a so-called aggregator could be in charge of directly or indirectly controlling the charging of vehicles and serve as an interface with other entities such as the transmission system operator or energy service providers. However, fully decentralized schemes without an aggregator are also conceivable, for instance, to provide primary frequency control. Communication also plays a key role, as in most of the control schemes a significant amount of information needs to be transmitted between vehicles and control entities. The management of electric vehicles as distributed resources fits well in the paradigm of smart grids, where an advanced use of communication technologies and metering infrastructure, increased controllability and load flexibility, and a larger share of fluctuating and distributed resources are foreseen.

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