‘Solar-powered EV charging reduces carbon footprint, enables true green mobility’

Pilot project at Bescom premises shows that SRTPV systems offer a number of advantages when charging electric vehicles

With the transport sector widely recognized as a major contributor to urban air pollution, electric vehicles (EVs) are seen as a key player in decarbonising the sector. But what drives electric vehicles is a question that preoccupies the sector and prevents it from being labeled as truly green.

The Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP) recently conducted a pilot project on the premises of Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) to demonstrate the use of clean energy to power electric vehicles. The report Solar Energy-Based EV Charging: A Pilot and Techno-Economic Study suggests that rooftop photovoltaics (SRTPV) could be an economically viable option for electric vehicle charging in addition to being a green energy source.

“SRTPV systems offer a number of advantages when charging electric vehicles. They are easy to install due to their modular design, they are a cost-effective alternative to charging on the grid and they could help reduce the negative impact on the grid of an increase in charging demand for electric vehicles, ”the center said. The mismatch between solar power generation and consumption could be resolved by using net metering at charging stations, it suggests.

The study examined the commercial aspects of using grid-connected SRTPV with and without a battery storage system (BESS) to power an electric vehicle charging station (EVCS). One parameter that was used in the study to estimate the economic benefits of using solar energy and BESS for charging electric vehicles was the tiered charging cost (LCOC) – which takes into account all costs that are incurred over the life of the equipment.

CSTEP’s analysis included the impact of charger usage, initial subsidies, and the contribution of utility power to the LCOC. “The electricity production costs of the Solar Plus storage power plant are strongly influenced by the use of the battery storage system. The higher utilization of the battery storage has increased the energy costs of the power plant, ”explained CSTEP.

The tiered costs of the EV charging service from an EVCS were assessed and compared to three cases: a base case in which the EVCS relies solely on utility power and two other cases in which it is connected to RTPV and RTPV-Plus energy storage systems .

“The EVCS connected to the RTPV (without battery) within the framework of the net metering guideline served as the best-case scenario with the lowest LCOC. This is mainly due to the fact that the costs for energy from SRTPV with mains electricity are becoming more and more competitive (in certain cases cheaper). For the analysis, a battery storage capacity of 40 kWh was taken into account, which stored approx. 16% of the total daily generated solar energy (on average). From the analysis for these system specifications, the costs for upstream power for the cases only grid, only PV and PV plus BESS with 5 (within the Bescom limits), ₹ 4.6 and ₹ 8.9 per unit were calculated. Net metering policy plays an important role in lowering costs that would otherwise increase due to the mismatch between energy production and consumption, ”the center said.

The study’s lead authors, Vinay S. Kandagal and Milind Ravindranath, told The Hindu that the study arose from the idea of ​​systematically evaluating the benefits of using solar energy and stationary battery storage for charging electric vehicles at the cost of SRTPV energy increasingly in competition with grid electricity tariffs and falling battery costs. BESCOM was also particularly interested in the role of battery storage systems in balancing out peaks in demand by charging electric vehicles.

But how will the scenario improve if rooftop solar systems and electric vehicles are still popular? “Electric vehicles are rapidly gaining traction, especially two-wheelers. The introduction of electric vehicles in the light and heavy commercial vehicle segment as well as in the passenger car segment could take a little longer. Broader deployment of charging infrastructure, especially fast charging and ultra fast charging points, can really unlock the value of electric vehicles and accelerate adoption, ”they said.

However, they acknowledged that both technologies have upfront cost barriers that hamper their adoption. “However, certain systems can help distribute the ownership and investment of the technologies and combine them effectively to achieve the desired goal. Virtual metering, group net metering, peer-to-peer energy trading and open access procurement of renewable energies are just a few examples of such mechanisms that can effectively combine the two technologies across the power grid, ”they explained.

With concerns also raised about how green the technology really is when it comes to solar parks and electric vehicles, the authors said many of these challenges are being addressed at the research, technology, and policy levels – and product innovation will constantly address these issues. “The solar-powered charging of electric vehicles reduces the CO2 footprint and enables real green mobility. It can also help reduce the negative impact on the grid from spikes in charging demand from electric vehicles. This, in turn, can help defer the cost of upgrading existing electrical infrastructure, ”they concluded.

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