Markets for Electric Vehicle Storage and the Future Power Grid

The electrification of the transportation sector is a great opportunity for decarbonization, but presents a challenge to the current electric grid infrastructure. It is evident that if the percentage of electric vehicles increases beyond 30%,  then the grid infrastructure will not be able to support the new electricity demands. Of course, this warrants an upgrade of the existing distribution grid in many locations. However, it is also evident that EVs provide a substantial amount of storage that can be harvested to prevent peak consumption that may destabilize the distribution grid. This requires advancements in technology enabling EV batteries (EVB) to both charge and discharge at any station—a technology that automobiles manufacturers are considering very seriously in the new generation of EVBs.

The utilization of this storage resource is challenging for various reasons. EVs in general have random connectivity to charging stations–a randomness that makes it difficult for the system operator to schedule the various vehicles in order to meet their demands. More so, even if the system operator elicits the deadline information upfront, EVs can engage in strategic behavior to maximize their own profits. Finally, the system should take advantage of the repeatable aspect of this situation and should consider economic dispatch strategies that take such random storage availability into consideration.

This gives rise to several research questions: How can one design a market where individual EV owners can loan/sell their EV storage capacity to a system operator? How can the system operator, in turn, manage the economic dispatch of generators and the scheduling of this farm of EVs to maximize welfare? Can these ideas be expanded to cover other potential markets including deferrable loads, demand response, or broadly general smart infrastructures?  We are exploring such questions through the design of truthful mechanisms and repeatable games.

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