Researchers at the University of Passau have developed a two-stage control concept for "smart charging". This allows grid operators to keep an eye on the voltage and load data.
Researchers at the University of Passau have developed a two-stage control concept for "smart charging". This allows grid operators to keep an eye on the voltage and load data.
( Bild: e-Sumava)

power grid Making the power grid fit for e-mobility

Author / Editor: Kathrin Haimerl, Uni Passau / Jochen Schwab

In the "ELECTRIFIC" project, a Europe-wide team has developed methods for wisely managing the switch to e-mobility. Researchers at the University of Passau are focusing on the intelligent integration of charging processes into the power grid.

Whether the switch to electromobility will work depends, among other things, on the power grid. There is a danger that the power grid will react unstably or even fail in part if a large number of electric vehicles are charging at the same time and the power grid is not sufficiently developed. The problem is that the expansion of power grids costs a lot of money and takes time. In the EU Horizon Project "ELECTRIFIC", a Europe-wide research team has developed ideas on how the existing grid can be optimized with the help of artificial intelligence.

"Load intelligently - that best summarizes our strategy," explains Prof. Dr. Hermann de Meer, project manager and head of the Chair of Computer Science at the University of Passau. "For the power grid, we expect innovation cycles of 30 years," he says. "We must use the much shorter innovation cycles in information technology to make the power grid fit for the future.


Control concept for "Smart Charging" from Passau

The Passau team has designed a two-stage control concept for "Smart Charging". With the help of this concept, grid operators can keep an eye on the voltage and load data. To prevent network overload, the algorithm shifts future charging processes to other network areas or other times in a single planning step. "Our traffic light system shows operators the status of the network," says Dominik Danner, a Ph.D. student at the chair of Prof. Dr. de Meer. If despite early load planning, there is a risk of overloading due to ongoing loading processes because too many vehicles are loaded at the same time, the reactive part of the "smart charging" concept automatically compensates for this by temporarily reducing the loading capacity.

Testlabor Vilshofen: Network remained stable

The research team tested and trained the system with data from Vilshofen: The small town in Lower Bavaria is suitable as a test laboratory because, among other things, Bayernwerk operates a small e-fleet at the customer center here and the charging infrastructure is comparatively well developed accordingly.

Over a period of one and a half years, the researchers observed a small network area of only a few blocks of houses, but eight charging stations were attached to it. The researchers measured network performance every two seconds. "Even if all eight stations were occupied, the sufficiently developed network did not reach its limits. At most, the vehicles accounted for about half of the total power," reports Philipp Danner, also a Ph.D. student at the chair of Prof. Dr. de Meer.

Mobility concepts from the Bavarian Forest to Barcelona

The "ELECTRIFIC" team worked out further ideas on how to steer electromobility as green as possible:

Charging time planner for electric buses in Barcelona: The research team at TH Deggendorf dealt with an intelligent charging process planner for electric fleets, including the bus fleet in Barcelona. The goal of the Catalan capital is to convert all bus traffic to electromobility.

More green electricity for electric fleets: For Bayernwerk's electric fleet, the researchers used the charging process planner to calculate the potential of charging the vehicles with as much green electricity as possible. Taking into account predictable operating times, the proportion of actual renewable energies in vehicle batteries could be increased from 42 to 53 percent with an average mix of 43.7 percent in the power grid.

Intelligent route planner for e-cars: The Technical University of Prague, in cooperation with its business partners, used the Passau findings on the power grid to program an intelligent route planner that suggests charging times to the driver that take into account grid utilization, the proportion of green electricity and the vehicle's battery. The research team tested the first version of this route planner in the cars of E-Wald in the Bavarian Forest and the neighboring Bohemian Forest.

Incentive system for climate-friendly charging times: : Experts from the fields of psychology and business informatics at the University of Mannheim developed and tested psychological and economic incentive mechanisms to reward climate-friendly behavior among drivers - from simple information stickers to price incentives.

Participants and support

Ten European partners were involved in the EU project "ELECTRIFIC" alongside the University of Passau. The Belgian branch of the IT services group GFI Informatique coordinated the project.

Other participants at a glance:

  • University of Mannheim
  • Technical University Deggendorf
  • Technical University Prague (Czech Republic)
  • Bayernwerk AG
  • has-to-be GmbH (Austria)
  • E-WALD Ltd.
  • Agencia de Ecologia Urbana de Barelona Consorcio (Spain)
  • e-Šumava (Czech Republic)

This project received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under Grant Agreement No 713864.

Film about the project:

This article was first published in Forschungsmagazin der Uni Passau (German).