The Networked EV: The Convergence of Smart Grids and Electric Vehicles

by David J. Leeds

This year marks a turning point for electricity as a transportation fuel for passenger vehicles. Automakers are sending electric vehicles (EVs) to market with global penetration forecasted to increase more than five-fold by 2016. The implications for electric power players and utilities are enormous, as the requirements of commercial EV adoption will inevitably burden existing electric power infrastructure. Given this reality, utilities are seeking out smart grid technology solutions to ensure grid reliability along with generation capacity by activating a digital dialogue between the grid and the EV.

Figure: Five Steps of Smart Grid Upgrades to Support EVs

Source: GTM Research

This report examines in detail the technology and planning considerations that will enable a successful smart grid-EV convergence. The report analyzes hot button issues such as transformer build-out and advanced metering (AMI) and charging infrastructure, but also expands the conversation beyond these known challenges to highlight emerging smart grid solutions for the EV market. These solutions include communications standards and protocols that act as the "digital handshake" between the grid and the EV, as well as distribution automation (DA) technologies that will enable a more self-aware grid capable of autonomously self-correcting based EV consumption patterns and moment-to-moment grid conditions.

Figure: The Price Spread of a "Gallon" of Electricity vs. a Gallon of Gasoline (est.)

Note: Click on image above for a link to larger version
Source: GTM Research
David J. Leeds Chief Smart Grid Analyst


David Leeds directs the smart grid research practice at GTM Research. He has guest lectured on the subject at MIT, Stanford, and The Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania).

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