To fully understand the need for energy transition, we need to understand the importance of the agreement that was reached in Paris, a year ago. There are several scenarios on how long-term low-greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions can develop. If we do nothing, our emissions will double in the course of this century. Scientists have sorted out what is needed if we want to commit to the 2009 Copenhagen Agreement’s 2 ºC temperature goal: phasing out CO2 emissions in the 2nd half of this century: But in Paris the ambition was increased to limit temperature increase to 1.5 °C. This requires zero CO2 emissions by about 2050. This stresses the importance to rapidly move to zero emission vehicles.
For the first time in history, non-state actors will have a prominent role in climate action. The Paris Agreement contains a number of decisions that will give private actors a semi-official status in future climate policy. This led to a fruitful parallel dialogue between policy makers and the private sector – in addition to the dialogue among the policymakers – which had a marked impact on the final agreement. The decisions in the Climate Agreement will allow businesses to become involved in other ways as well. Already thousands of companies and local authorities have jointly committed to further ambitions regarding climate action. Big companies like Google and Apple have committed to go for 100 percent renewable electricity.
So where do we stand now? For some time now, the use of fuel tends to decline. And growth of renewable energy sources is really there: solar and wind energy is a growing market. At the same time, because our equipment - lighting, freezers, washing machines - becomes more and more efficient, our demand for electricity seems to stabilize. Even in growing economies like China, there are signs of a leveling off of the growth of energy demand.
Research shows that it is possible to rely on sustainable energy resources. On a small scale, a case study for Aruba shows that it is possible to use curtailed energy from solar and wind for electric vehicles.
When we look at the global energy future, we see that it's possible to stabilize energy demand roughly at the current level and still provide enough energy, if we do it efficiently. Electricity can become the backbone of our energy system. While it’s now about one quarter of our final demand, it can grow to over 40 percent, amongst others due to a transition to electric vehicles. Most renewable energy sources are able to produce electricity, but aren’t well capable of producing fuels. High share electricity demand matches very well with high share electricity production. We can then move towards 100 percent sustainable energy. This underlines the importance of the design of charging infrastructure.
Kornelis Blok is Professor of Energy Systems Analysis at Delft University and Director of Science at energy consultancy Ecofys
“Electric vehicles are very important to make a successful transition to 100% sustainable energy. In the future of energy, we’ll rely on renewable sources - and renewable sources are often sources of electricity. It’s disappointing that the government is reducing fiscal incentives to stimulate research, development and use of electric vehicles. If there are no fiscal incentives, consumers may not be inclined to buy an electric vehicle, simply because it’s more expensive.”
Koos Burgman is Board Member VER (Vereniging Elektrische Rijders). Kornelis Blok is Professor of Energy Systems Analysis at Delft University and Director of Science at energy consultancy Ecofys.
There are two major trends in energy usage: while electricity is increasingly generated from renewable energy sources like solar and wind, electric vehicles seem to emerge as future mode of transport.
At the same time however, the electricity from the public grid isn’t 100% sustainable. If the electricity for the vehicle is - even partly -produced by a thermal power plant, it can’t be considered a ‘clean’ transportation method. The only truly sustainable source of energy is solar or wind energy.
Generating energy with solar panels at business parks - charging while parking - is 100% green, but it isn’t currently used optimally through lack of affordable storage capacity and insufficient local energy management. Moreover, solar power production suffers from variations in sunlight on a daily and seasonal basis.
What would the future of electric mobility look like? Roads capable of powering electrical vehicles, self healing roads, roads allowing automated driving, roads generating sustainable energy? The concept of wireless charging for electric vehicles will be available in the near future: Electric vehicles run off grid power instead of batteries, or, even better, from electricity generated by solar panels and wind mills installed all along the highway.
The future is near: an efficient and sustainable way of energy use has been developed. The Electrical Vehicle Supported PV Smart Grid (EVPV Grid) enables electric vehicles to run on electricity generated by solar panels and windmills placed along the road, instead of on a battery. This way, energy demand on the public grid is reduced. Also, the EV battery doubles up as an energy storage mechanism for the PV system. A multi-port power converter for bi-directional DC-DC conversion will connect the electric vehicles, the solar panels and the local and public energy grid, providing charging for customers. It will enable electric vehicles to not only charge from the PV panel and grid but also discharge energy back to the grid, a technology referred to as vehicle-to-grid (V2G). The developed power converter is compatible with the global Chademo and CCS/COMBO DC EV charging standard.
In addition, an Energy Management System (EMS) is being developed. EMS can become an important game changer for charging electric vehicles. An Energy Management System directs the energy flows for each system, business parks and customers, taking into consideration the requirements of energy companies. An EMS enables a fleet of electric vehicles to be optimally charged with energy from solar panels. Furthermore, it takes into account several elements: user preferences, dynamic grid prices, solar forecasts, offering reserve capacity to the grid, distribution network capacity and multiplexing single charger to several electric vehicles. EMS can reduce charging costs significantly and increase sustainability of electric vehicles by optimally using energy from solar panels. It uses dynamic tariffs to shift demand and alleviate stress on the grid significantly.
EMS hasn’t been implemented yet, but so far, its potential is promising, a promising step towards a sustainable future.
Pavol Bauer, Head of DC Systems, Energy Conversion and Storage Group at Delft University
“At TKI Urban energy we stimulate innovation. We ensure the sharing of expertise, and aim for a match between the private sector and research. At the moment our focus is on electric charging services to ensure electric vehicles contribute to the system integration of solar and other renewable energy sources. We are glad to see so many projects and initiatives on charging infrastructure, but it is, at the same time, also a challenge. We need to find a common platform, a way to really collaborate and join forces.”
Yvonne Boerakker is Program Director at TKI Urban Energy. Thijs Aarten is Managing Director & EME Energy Practice Leader at Navigant.