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The electric vehicle charging network as a disturbance reserve

The rapidly expanding charging network for electric vehicles can be harnessed as a disturbance reserve to support the power system.

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly widespread, and the trend will only continue. Today, there are approximately 180,000 rechargeable vehicles in Finland out of a total of approximately 3.2 million vehicles.

Transport will account for significant electricity consumption in the future, but it may also be an important resource for the power system.

Liikennevirta Oy’s cloud-based management system for electric vehicle charging devices can control charging points in real time, so they can be used as disturbance reserves to support the power system.

Smart technology monitors the power system constantly and can react quickly to deviations. For example, it can respond if the frequency in the power system falls too far and the power balance is jeopardised.

“This creates a virtual power plant that can help the power system of Finland in the event of a power shortage,” explains Juha Karppinen, Director of Energy Services at Liikennevirta.

Reacting does not mean interrupting charging. Instead, the charging power at a large number of charging points could be decreased – for example, from 11 kilowatts to 9 kilowatts – for a few minutes.

“Small and brief reductions in power can make a big difference when lots of cars are charging. The aim is to avoid a situation in which the power system of Finland suddenly runs out of power and parts of it need to be shut down,” Karppinen says.

The management system can respond quickly. Half the capacity designated as a reserve can be activated within 5 seconds, and the entire reserve can be available within 30 seconds. This operating model safeguards the quality of the power system, and people charging their vehicles will not notice a small, short-term power reduction. Nevertheless, it provides enough time to activate other disturbance reserves.

In the future, Liikennevirta’s technology will enable consumers to schedule charging outside the price and consumption peaks.

“If we can adjust the network’s total power more effectively without disrupting the charging and use of electric vehicles, we can reduce the negative impact on the power system, even when large numbers of vehicles are charging. In fact, the impact could be positive for the power system.”


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