Electric vehicles, solar energy and storage systems: smart charging needs further research

In a paper by Bracco et. al., an optimization model is defined for the design of a smart energy infrastructure integrating different technologies to satisfy the electrical demand of a given site. The considered smart energy infrastructure includes a photovoltaic plant, electrical storage systems, electric vehicles (EVs), and charging stations.

The objective function of the optimization model considers the costs related to the installation and maintenance of the considered technologies, as well as the costs associated with the energy exchanges with the external grid. A numerical analysis is reported in the paper, referred to a test case in a real site in the north Italian Liguria Region. Different scenarios are analyzed and discussed, with specific attention to evaluating the role of electric mobility within a smart energy infrastructure and a focus on electric vehicles acting as mobile storage systems.

Reduce operating cost

It is important to highlight that all the cases permit to decrease the energy bill of the site. All the scenarios allow reducing the operating costs if compared with the case in which all the energy is bought from the external grid. This is an important point because it confirms that the accurate design of a smart energy infrastructure, such as the one proposed in this work, allows decreasing the overall cost, in addition to determining environmental benefits.

Barriers and future perspectives

The main barriers to the large scale deployment of a smart energy infrastructure are the high capital cost of storage systems. Furthermore, the technologies related to electric mobility and, in particular, the charging stations able to operate in V2G (vehicle to grid) mode are still too expensive and standardization issues remain to be solved.

Starting from the study proposed here, it is possible to foresee a series of future developments. One improvement can be the integration of other technologies based on the exploitation of renewable sources (for instance, wind microturbines, geothermal heat pumps, cogeneration units fuelled by biogas, hydro microturbines, etc.). These technologies could permit to increase the amount of energy locally produced and to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Moreover, a second enhancement could be the development of an optimization model for different interconnected sites where electric vehicles can be recharged or can release energy when managed in V2G mode. Finally, smart charging strategies could be included in the optimization model, also computing charging costs and discharging revenues.

Source: Bracco, S., Delfino, F., Longo, M., & Siri, S. (2019). Electric Vehicles and Storage Systems Integrated within a Sustainable Urban District Fed by Solar Energy. Journal of Advanced Transportation, 2019.

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