How can we make sure that charging of electric vehicles at certain times of the day won’t overload the distribution grid?

We would like to use more electric vehicles, but they can be expensive to import and our distribution grid is not very strong. How can we make sure that charging of electric vehicles at certain times of the day won’t overload the distribution grid?

Electric vehicles are coming down in cost and some countries are attempting to build out their domestic manufacturing industry for EVs, potentially further lowering costs.

Regarding vehicle charging, perhaps the most important option is to create an electricity tariff that incentivizes drivers to charge at off-peak times, or when supply is plentiful (solar at mid-day). These can take the form of time-of-use rates or real-time pricing.

Planners can also use transmission and distribution grid simulation tools to show where adding new sources of generation—including distributed rooftop solar—can help overcome grid balancing issues and minimize investment in new infrastructure. Additionally, other demand response programs that shift loads over a period of hours can help minimize peak loads and new infrastructure investments. More information on options to integrate EVs into power systems is available here: https://www.21stcenturypower.org/assets/pdfs/77494.pdf.

Thanks for this information, Jeff!

Are there ways that EVs can actually support a distribution grid (i.e. acting as batteries)?

Yes, there are demonstration projects underway to allow vehicles to send power back to the grid at times of high demand. This is called vehicle-to-grid charging, the opposite of what happens when you charge your EV from the grid. There are still some challenges to overcome before V2G becomes widespread.