Aurora plans for electric car demand

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Encouraging overnight charging with smart chargers and identifying Dunedin streets where "clusters" of early adopters charge their cars are among plans Aurora Energy could use to deal with an expected surge in energy demands from the use of electric cars.

Aurora Energy asset management general manager Glenn Coates said the shock an uptake of electric vehicles would have on the network would depend on the charging habits of owners as well as the overall uptake of electric cars.

In light of the Government’s plans for conventional vehicles to be phased out, to reach carbon emissions targets, the company was modelling the effect electric cars could have on the electricity network.

It was also looking into potential investment to address forecast constraints, he said.

The network typically experienced peaks around 9am and 6pm, and ideally electric vehicles could be charged at night when electricity consumption was relatively low, Mr Coates said.

Aurora Energy would encourage electric vehicle owners to take advantage of lower overnight electricity costs, he said.

The company envisaged smart chargers becoming available for home and business owners to charge at night in a "set and forget" way, he said.

Smart chargers could help to co-ordinate charging across thousands of electric vehicles to "smooth demand" on the power system.

The company expected to be tactical about the uptake as well, Mr Coates said.

"We expect that the early adoption of electric vehicles will include clustering in some streets and we are taking steps to identify these locations," he said.

"Clustering provides an early opportunity to enhance our network analytics and develop a range of solutions including working with communities to better understand their expectations and charging flexibility, and invest in network capacity where we find this is necessary."

Dunedin City Council waste and environmental solutions group manager Chris Henderson said the council was working on an electric-vehicle charging infrastructure plan.

The plan would form part of the council’s overall parking and transport strategy.

Planning was for both a scenario where electric vehicle uptake continued at its present rate, but also one in which the uptake accelerated, Mr Henderson said.

PowerNet chief executive Jason Franklin said the Invercargill company had been working on understanding the implications of the electrification of transport for the past two years.

Pricing incentives as well as new energy technologies would be required to deal with the expected rise in electric vehicle charging, he said.

The Government has announced new fees for new petrol cars and rebates for electric vehicle purchases to encourage electric vehicle uptake.

The Climate Change Commission says conventional cars must be replaced by electric ones to meet emissions targets.

The commission said annual electricity generation would need to increase by about 20% over 2018 levels by 2035.

It also said electricity generators, Transpower and lines companies would need skilled workers and faster planning processes to deliver the expansion.

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