Power grids


Electromobility in Austria is picking up speed slowly but surely. Not least due to the investment promotion for electric vehicles launched in 2017, numerous benefits such as the abolition of motor-related insurance tax, deductibility for input tax, elimination of non-cash compensation, parking privileges in

cities, low maintenance costs and many other advantages purchasing an electric car is becoming an economical alternative for more and more private individuals and companies. Meanwhile, car manufacturers outdo each other with the maximum achievable ranges and

almost any trips can be made with electric cars without inconvenience. All major manufacturers are working intensively on improving their vehicles and expanding their range of models.

Electromobility is a new task for the electricity grids and is perhaps developing faster than is currently expected. The importance of the electricity grid for economic and social life will be further enhanced by additional services for electromobility. The energy-intensive mobility sector is shifting from oil to electricity. Due to the higher efficiency of e-mobility, about 2/3 of the primary energy (depending on electrical energy generation) can be saved.

This “shift in traffic" offers huge potential for the Austrian government to achieve its energy and climate policy goals and, in addition, to reduce dependencies on resources and is consequently supported by the Austrian distribution system operators.

The additional electrical energy demand from the distribution grids will only increase by about 16 per cent if 100 per cent electric vehicles are on Austrian roads. The power grids – in particular, the low-voltage grids – face new challenges as regards transporting the required electricity to the end customers.

The need for expansion in the low voltage grid can be reduced with low-power "grid-friendly" charging, intelligent power control or charging from battery storage.

Charging capacity and charging infrastructure

The power required to charge electric vehicles is far greater than the 3 kW to 5 kW which is commonly supplied to homes at present. Typical demands made on the grid by households in the past were from varying, and mostly short operation times, such as for cooking and washing for example. However, the large concurrent demand on the grid now caused by charging times of several hours leads to far greater loads being placed on the distribution grid. Without measures in place, existing low-voltage grid quickly reach their limits.

Providing every location with high power charging capabilities is not economically justifiable in view of the currently existing tariff model (performance-related tariff components currently not taken into account in usage-related way). In the future, quick charging stations in public areas, charging infrastructure at workplaces and charging options at home will have to usefully complement each other. In many cases, electric vehicles are charged at home throughout the night. This provides sufficient time to fully charge the rechargeable batteries using less power. Firstly, it is technically difficult to provide private households with high charging power, and secondly it is expensive.

In such cases, the Austrian Grid Regulatory Authority clearly supports the “polluter pays” principle: if you want more power, you have to pay for it! Low-power charging is easy on purses and batteries!

Besides simple grid extension, any strategy to connect the charging infrastructure to the grid also includes an appropriate legal and regulatory environment as well as an intelligent solution that allows for grid-friendly charging. New demands are being made on distribution grids due to electromobility, a development which has serious repercussions for distribution grids. In order to minimise the costs of integrating electromobility into the grid and thus to promote its development, a specific set of rules is required that defines how electric vehicles are charged on the public distribution grid. We have written a set of guidelines to serve as the basis for the transfer into a national regulatory framework.