Electric vehicles are here. And with them, new ways to move and new demands on the energy system. To power a switch to cleaner transport long-term, and keep the lights on short-term, Synergrid – the federation of electricity and natural gas network operators in Belgium – had two big questions to answer: what would more electric vehicles on the road do to the network that powered them? And how could smart charging help?

We showed the value of action, and the cost of doing nothing

We needed data, and lots of it. We collated info on population density, socio-economic factors, plus data from around 500,000 substations and feeders. With it, we built a model that could look into the future.

First, we modelled what would happen if electric vehicles hit the road and no one did anything about it – power cuts, shortages, a grid overwhelmed.

Then, we looked at the impact of action. What if you got people to charge on the parts of the grid that had power to spare? What if you nudged drivers to power up with their own solar supply? What if your network distributed only electricity to where it was needed most?

Synergrid were with us every step of the way. We ran regular workshops to thrash out questions, check assumptions, get input on results, and stay on track to deliver a model Synergrid could really use.

A model that Synergrid still relies on today

Synergrid can now model when, where, and how fast people might start buying and using electric vehicles, and what things will look like when they do. Crucially, the model showed the vital difference smart charging could make.

Every year more electric vehicles hit Belgium’s roads. Now, Synergrid has a powerful tool in their corner, informing conversations with regulators and policymakers, and powering smart choices about the future of the Belgian grid.

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