Consultant report

Electric vehicle grid integration in the U.S., Europe, and China

Widespread electrification of the transportation sector holds the promise of greater vehicle efficiency and lower emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. Many governments around the world have identified electric vehicles as a cornerstone of transportation sector emission control strategies, alongside other efforts to reduce emissions from conventional vehicles. National EV targets in major economies call for nearly 20 million vehicles in service by 2020, a steep increase above the roughly one million EVs in operation in 2013.

How and when EVs are charged can dramatically influence their usability and attractiveness to consumers by affecting charge time and convenience, as well as electricity costs. Different charging scenarios can also affect the electric grid in different ways, with over-all effects that are both positive and negative. Negative effects from significant EV penetration could include increased peak loads, over-stressed local distribution networks, and increased air emissions from electricity generation. On the other hand, the potential benefits to the grid from greater EV use include load smoothing and greater utilization of base load capacity during non-peak periods, lower cost provision of ancillary grid services, and easier integration of variable renewable electricity sources, in particular wind-generated power.

This report examines key drivers of EV adoption in the United States, the European Union, and China, with an emphasis on vehicle-charging scenarios and infrastructure. The intent is to identify insights about the choice of charging infrastructure in each region that will maximize benefits from greater EV use to both consumers and the grid, thus helping to drive EV adoption. The report examines how these optimal scenarios differ by region, and makes recommendations for policies and electricity regulations that will make realization of grid benefits from EVs more likely.