Did you know that to fully charge an electric car you use about as much energy as the total electricity usage of a household in 2.5 days? Since most cars are charged in just a few hours, some areas in Amsterdam may expect frequent blackouts once 10% of the households charge their electric car at home.
Currently less than 2% of the cars is electric, and it may take another 5-10 years before this 10% limit is reached. This sets the time frame for the distribution network operator Alliander to fix this problem. The typical approach is to upgrade the congested parts of the infrastructure: at some places the transformers will be upgraded, at other places, streets will be temporarily closed for traffic to put new and thicker cables into the ground. These upgrades are not only very expensive, having such construction works all over the city is also very annoying, and perhaps not even necessary!
The idea is to charge electric vehicle more flexibly and thereby take the infrastructural limits into account. There are already a few companies (aggregators) that use this flexibility to charge electric cars when prices are low, for example when there is a lot of wind. They can do this optimally in a straightforward way for each car individually, resulting in similar charging schedules for all cars. However, taking limits of the infrastructure into account changes the flexible charging problem to a complex puzzle involving all parties in the neighborhood. Computer scientists call such problems NP-hard: adding one extra car may double the required computation time.
At Delft University of Technology, people with different expertise on multi-party optimization are working on this project: several PhD and post-doc researchers with a background in Electrical Engineering, Policy and Management, Mathematics or Computer Science. Together with our main partner in this project Jedlix, we can find new methods to solve such scheduling puzzles automatically. In this project, we are showing what the effect of these methods are in a practical setting.
Mathijs de Weerdt
Future-proof Flexible Charing is one of the eight URSES+ projects. With the URSES+ program NWO, Shell TKI Urban Energy and AMS Institute try to tackle energy challenges in Amsterdam, aiming to enable a rapid transition to a reliable, affordable and sustainable energy system. The URSES+ program consists of eight different projects that all contribute to the reduction of uncertainty for actors in the energy chain by developing the knowledge and tools that are needed for smart energy systems.