Is electrification of road transportation the path to the future?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Maria Taljegård, The impact of an Electrification of Road Transportation on the Electricity system in ScandinaviaOn Jan 31, 2018 Maria Taljegård, presented her licentiate thesis “The impact of an Electrification of Road Transportation on the Electricity system in Scandinavia”.  After the presentation, I caught up with Maria to hear more about her research.

In order to reach the 2020 CO2 emission target set by the EU, the transport sector must reduce emissions by 20%. In essence, this will probably entail an electrification of the road transport sector through EVs (Electric Vehicles) and very likely, a higher demand on the electricity system through static charging or ERS (Electric Road Systems). In her thesis, Maria looks at the possibility for EVs to provide a demand-side management to the electricity grid.

Using the Norwegian road, E39 as the focus of the study, breaking it down into segments with information points, the study showed large variations in energy and power demands over time and location along the road. Further calculations were made by developing a vehicle energy consumption model to estimate the variation in energy and power demands, given different electrification options and drivetrains.

The thesis found that an installation of ERS on all European (E) and national (N) roads in Sweden and Norway could cover over 50% of vehicle traffic. Installing ERS on 25% of the total E and N roads would connect all the larger cities in Norway and Sweden. It was also shown that with a cap on CO2 corresponding to 93% of emission deduction by the year 2050, the electricity demand from EVs in Scandinavia and Germany could be met by mainly an increase in generation from wind power and to some extent, coal in combination with carbon capture and storage.

“A smart integration of passenger EVs (vehicle-to-grid; V2G) can to some extent be used to manage variability of renewable energy sources by, for instance, substantially reduce the need for peak power capacity in the system.”

Elna Holmberg and Maria Taljegård
Discussion leader Elna Holmberg, Director, Swedish Electromobility Centre shows an article about Maria Taljegård, published in the newspaper NyTeknik.

I caught up with Maria after her presentation and posed a few questions that had come to mind while listening to her results:

  • In your opinion, what were the biggest advancements in your field during 2017? 
    “I think autonomous cars are definitely an interesting area. And battery development. There are aspects we don’t know much about yet – such as what V2G will cost and how it will affect the lifespan of batteries. Another very interesting perspective is how the future will look in regard to how we travel and how we use our cars. Will we own our cars or share them? And if V2G gets implemented on a large scale, how will that be resolved if you, for example, lend your car to someone when you’re on vacation?”
  • What do you think the near future will bring to your area? 
    “Our driving habits will probably change a lot depending on which direction development goes. For now, the biggest issue for larger vehicles, of course, is range. A truck should optimally have at least a 4 hr range and for today’s batteries to manage that, they would get too heavy. I think an expansion of ERS will have the biggest effect on road transportation costs for heavy vehicles because it would reduce the demand on range and they might drive the same routes most of the time, meaning ERS routes could be optimised. And if we add autonomous, electric road trains to the equation, personnel costs (drivers) could be reduced. Furthermore, driverless, heavy traffic could move at night, eliminating the cost of drivers altogether.”

 

Finally, I asked Maria what her biggest take-aways and findings of her work were. She answered, “Smart charging can help the electricity grid avoid having to invest in peak power. A big challenge with optimised charging – ie V2G – is the communication between homes and cars, so that not all electric appliances run at the same time.”

“I think all experts must interlink so that we get the expertise we need from all areas. One of the biggest assets of the Electromobility Centre is that I can network with these experts and find new contact points with people I wouldn’t necessarily have found on my own.”

 

Text Magdalena Einarsen
photo, Maria Taljegård &  Magdalena Einarsen