MOBILITY

‘Solar-powered EV charging minimizes carbon emissions and enables real green transportation,’ says the company.

SRTPV systems offer a number of advantages in EV charging, according to a pilot project conducted on the Bescom corporate office grounds.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are being viewed as a vital actor in helping to decarbonize the transportation sector, which is widely recognised as a substantial contributor to air pollution in cities. However, what powers EVs is a vexing subject that prevents the industry from being labeled completely green.

The Centre for Study of Science, Technology, and Policy (CSTEP) recently completed a pilot project at the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) corporate office to showcase the utilization of clean energy to power electric vehicles. According to the article Solar Energy–Based EV Charging: A Pilot and Techno-Economic Study, solar rooftop photovoltaic (SRTPV) energy could be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly choice for EV charging.

“SRTPV systems have a variety of benefits when it comes to EV charging. They’re simple to install thanks to their modular design, they’re a cost-effective alternative to grid charging, and they could help mitigate the grid’s negative consequences from a rise in EV charging demand, according to the center. It proposes that installing net metering at charging stations could alleviate the gap between solar energy supply and consumption.

The study looked at the economics of using grid-connected SRTPV to power an electric car charging station with and without a battery energy storage system (BESS) (EVCS). The levelised cost of charge (LCOC), which covers all costs incurred during the lifespan of assets, was one of the parameters used in the study to determine the economic benefits of using solar energy and BESS for EV charging.

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The impact of charger usage, early subsidies, and the contribution of grid electricity on the LCOC were all examined by CSTEP. “The use of battery storage has a significant impact on the levelised cost of electricity generated by a solar plus storage power plant.” The cost of energy from the power plant grew as the use of battery storage increased, according to CSTEP.

The levelised cost of an EVCS’s EV charging service was assessed and compared to three scenarios: a baseline case in which the EVCS is simply dependant on grid electricity, as well as two alternative scenarios in which it is connected to RTPV and RTPV plus energy storage systems.

“Under the net-metering policy, the EVCS connected to the RTPV (without battery) served as the best-case scenario with the lowest LCOC. This is mostly due to the fact that the cost of energy from SRTPV is becoming more competitive (and in some cases cheaper) than grid electricity. For the investigation, a battery storage capacity of 40 kWh was used, which held approximately 16 percent of the total daily solar energy generated (on average). The costs of upstream power for the instances of grid only, PV only, and PV + BESS were calculated to be 5 (within Bescom limitations), 4.6, and 8.9 per unit, respectively, based on the study for these system parameters. The net-metering policy is vital in cutting prices, which would otherwise rise due to a mismatch between energy supply and consumption, according to the center.

The study’s lead authors, Vinay S. Kandagal and Milind Ravindranath, told The Hindu that the study was inspired by the idea of systematically evaluating the benefits of using solar energy and stationary battery energy storage for EV charging, as the cost of SRTPV energy is increasingly competing with grid electricity rates and battery costs are decreasing. According to them, BESCOM was particularly interested in the role of battery storage in smoothing out demand peaks caused by EV charging.

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But, with solar rooftop schemes and electric vehicles still in their infancy, how can the situation improve? “Electric vehicles, particularly two-wheelers, are gaining popularity at a rapid rate. The adoption of electric vehicles in the light and heavy commercial vehicle segments, as well as in the personal automobile segment, may take a little longer. “A wider deployment of charging infrastructure, particularly fast-charging and ultra-fast-charging sites, can truly unlock the value of electric vehicles and boost adoption,” they stated.

However, they highlighted that each of these technologies have high upfront costs that make them difficult to adopt. “However, certain schemes can assist in the distribution of linked ownership, and hence investments, of technologies and successfully pair them to achieve the intended purpose.” Virtual metering, group net metering, peer-to-peer energy trading, and open access renewable energy procurement are just a few examples of procedures that can efficiently link the two technologies across the electrical grid,” they said.

Many of these obstacles are being tackled at the research, technical, and policy levels, according to the authors, who added that product innovation is continually solving these issues. Concerns have also been raised regarding how green the technology is in terms of solar farms and EVs. “Solar-powered EV charging lowers carbon emissions and allows for truly green mobility.” It may also aid in reducing the grid’s negative impact from an increase in EV charging demand. As a result, the costs of upgrading the existing electrical infrastructure can be postponed,” they concluded.

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