E-Vehicles and the Energy Transformation
Digitalization is transforming the energy sector in Europe and the United States, with major implications for energy security, climate change, economies and indeed societies. As important as renewable energy is for climate change, getting the most out of it depends on the use of batteries, and the digital technologies that can manage the renewables and batteries as distributed energy resources—a new decentralized approach to electricity that is also transforming the traditional model of electricity generation and distribution.
Here, the electric vehicle (e-vehicle) has an important role to play, beyond its function of reducing greenhouse-gas and pollutants emissions from the transport sector. For an e-vehicle is essentially a battery on wheels. Seen merely as a mode of transport, it represents potentially huge additional demand for more electricity. But seen as a part of the electricity network, e-vehicles as batteries help integrate renewable energy into the system, storing power while demand is low, and feeding it back into the system when demand is high but the primary resource is not available.
Recognizing and facilitating this broader role of the e-vehicle in the energy system should be a priority for European and U.S. politicians and policymakers. Doing so will underscore the importance of key steps to promote the (already burgeoning) uptake of e-vehicles, including by:
- encouraging decentralized consumer-based electricity production and consumption (“prosumers”) as well as the platforms that can aggregate and manage these distributed energy resources,
- promoting smart metering,
- adopting appropriate tariff pricing structures,
- understanding the role of data in this decentralized distributed energy world,
- stimulating investment in charging infrastructure,
- considering in this context buildings and energy as part of an ecosystem,
- building on the scale of fleets (including importantly public transport), and
- permitting governments at all levels to lead in adopting policies that achieve these goals.
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