How will the electric car affect the electrical grid? BZU students investigate

Anas Bazbar, Al-Mutasem Bellah Mara’beh, and Ahmad Samamrah, three students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Birzeit University, have completed a 10-month research project in which they investigate the effect of electric cars on the electrical grid when a high surge of renewable-energy-generated electricity is present.

The project, supervised by Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Dr. Abdalkarim Awad, revolves around smart-charging strategies for electric vehicles. The students researched two smart-charging strategies: the Constant Demand Strategy, and the Low-Cost Charging Strategy.

Additionally, the students analyzed the use of control and monitoring mechanisms, based on specific and relevant conditions, to improve the quality of supplied energy. The various grid components (such as houses) send metrics, such as voltage, to the control unit, which then applies prearranged algorithms to apply the suitable process (charge or discharge). For instance, the control unit sends a message to the electric car to begin charging in cases of overvoltage.

The students, under the supervision of Dr. Awad, published a paper in the 2018 IEEE CPE-POWERENG Conference, hosted at Texas A&M University, entitled “Exploring the Impact of EVs on the Power Grid with High Penetration of RES.”

“The aim of this paper is to draw attention to the parallel rise of electric car manufacturing and renewable energy production,” said the authors. “It is expected that electric cars will overtake the market in the next few years because of the accelerating decrease in production costs, and the relatively low cost of operating costs, relative to the traditional, combustion-powered cars.”

“As such, we’re poised to see a noticeable improvement in the performance of the smart grid. For instance, electric cars can be used to store energy and then supply it to the electric grid at peak demand times. Electric cars, however, bring with them many challenges to the sustainability and performance of the electrical grid,” added the authors.