Decentralized Vehicle-to-Building Approach for a Transition in the Electricity Grid

Andrea Ballarin, Italy (PPRE 2012-14)
PhD at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany since 10/2016


The aim of this PhD research is to evaluate the potential of a decentralized vehicle-to-building approach for a transition in the electricity grid.

Electric vehicles are slowly substituting conventional cars. They pose challenges to the stability of the grid, since they create new loads. Therefore it is desirable to design proper charging coordination strategies. At the same time they offer a great potential of being used as storage as well as demand response mechanisms: they could be discharged (vehicle-to-grid) and feed electricity back into the grid when necessary. In that sense the charge-discharge process should be coupled as far as possible with renewable energy generation. This will only be possible if the transportation and the power system are meant to work in synergy in one of the possible forms of sector coupling which would increase the sustainable operation of both systems at a lower total cost.

Traditional approaches to address the integration of electric vehicles in the power system are top-down. New entities called "aggregators" would play the role of coordinating a multiple number of entities with different interests, such as the single vehicles, the system operator and the aggregator itself and constantly exchange the necessary number of information to allow the vehicles to participate in the electricity market. It is not yet clear whether this approach offers the best solution at an affordable cost. It is hard to devise a good strategy which meets the needs of multiple entities, protects their individual choices and privacy concerns and at the same time guarantees the stability of the electricity grid.

Following the deep restructuring of the power system and its increased decentralization of supply this research will propose an alternative method to the traditional approach: a bottom-up system where the users are put at the center. In this context a distributed network of energy management systems in the buildings will be proposed, which at first would control the charge and discharge process of vehicles where they are connected (parked) most of the time (next to a building). The algorithm governing this process would rely mostly on local information, such as local renewable generation, load and forecasts, and seek to reduce the need for communication. The overall goal is to find a more robust strategy to find local balances between generation and consumption while decreasing the complexity and cost of the vehicles integration and solve some of the aforementioned challenges.

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