Switching off car charging stations may prevent network meltdown

A charging station in Amsterdam. Photo: DutchNews.nl

Public charging stations for electric cars should be switched off between the peak hours of 4pm and 9pm to avoid network capacity problems, regional grid company Stedin has said.

The company says reducing electricity provision to charging stations, which is being trialed in Rotterdam, is not enough to make up for the capacity shortage and meet demand.

However, switching them off would save enough electricity at each charging station to power a new home, Stedin claimed. It would also prevent some 1.5 million households from experiencing stoppages during peak hours when hybrid pumps, induction cookers are already putting pressure on the network.

Half of all electric cars are typically charged when owners come home from work and are left connected until morning. To postpone the process by a couple of hours would not disadvantage many electric car owners, research by smart charging institute ElaadNL, has shown.

The Dutch electric car fleet is forecast to grow from 450,000 vehicles to around two million in 2030 which means adding 250,000 charging stations to the current network of 150,000.

“If we adapt our behaviour, providers can free up capacity and use it for the businesses, new builds and schools on their waiting lists,” Stedin chairman Koen Bogers told broadcaster NOS.

Last week, grid operators said electricity networks in many parts of the country are reaching the limits of their capacity, resulting in waiting lists totalling some 9,400 businesses.

Electric car drivers lobby group VER said it understands the need for “smart charging” but said drivers need “charge security”. “This is a bit drastic,” spokesman Rober van Gent told the broadcaster. “We want charging stations that react to an imminent overload by lowering capacity,” he said.

Van Gent fears that Stedin’s call to switch off public charging stations will be a further blow to efforts to encourage people to drive electric cars. Road tax is being brought back for electric vehicles next year.

An estimated half a million charging stations are privately owned. The lack of a legal obligation to register them, will make it difficult to force owners not to use them during peak hours, NOS said.

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