Smart Solar Charging


Electric vehicles balance out voltage fluctuations in power grid

What is the impact of rapid fluctuations in electricity generation of solar panels induced by passing clouds on the voltage levels in the power grid? What is the potential role of electric vehicles in this system? The paper Impact of rapid PV fluctuations on power quality in the low-voltage grid and mitigation strategies using electric vehicles shows that electric vehicles are able to almost fully eliminate problems with flickering lights caused by voltage fluctuations. The research was made possible by project Smart Solar Charging, of which Utrecht University is one of the project partners.

zonnepanelen lombok
Voltage fluctuations in the power grid

An increasing amount of solar panels are connected to the low-voltage power grid in the Netherlands. These panels inject surplus generated electricity into the grid resulting from high solar power production. Passing clouds can cause rapid fluctuations in the generation of electricity by solar panels. When solar panels deliver less electricity to the grid, the voltage levels drop. These voltage fluctuations can cause flickering lamps, which can inconvenience households connected to the grid.

Flickering lamps

Researchers of Utrecht University determined to what extent rapid fluctuations in the electricity generation of solar panels can cause light flicker. To answer this question, they utilised data from the Smart Solar Charging living lab Lombok. The researchers studied a model in which the frequency of light flicker was determined for a situation where most households are equipped with solar panels. The results indicate that households can experience light flicker for up to 21.8% of the day when there is a high number of passing clouds.

Electric vehicles balance the system

The researchers also examined how the charging behavior of electric vehicles can be adapted to reduce voltage fluctuations caused by changes in solar power generation. Electric vehicles could for instance stop charging or even inject electricity into the grid when a cloud covers a solar panel. This bidirectional charging system of electric vehicles was found to stabilise the power grid.