Smart meters support the development of electric mobility

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Romanians’ appetite for green cars is growing. The market of 100% electric cars increased by 40.8% in the first nine months of 2020 compared to the similar period of 2019, and that of plug-in hybrid cars by 141.3%, according to the Association of Car Manufacturers and Importers (APIA).

The preference for electric cars is also due to the incentives offered by the state. Currently, through the government’s Rabla Plus fleet renewal program, those who buy a fully electric car receive 10,000 euros from the state, and those who buy a plug-in hybrid electric car with low carbon dioxide emissions, receive 4,250 euros. Moreover, the budget of the Rabla Plus Program has been supplemented with 60 million lei, up to the limit of 200 million lei in 2020, and according to the new ceiling, Romanians will be able to buy approximately 4,000 electric cars, as announced in August Minister of Environment, Costel Alexe. It is expected that in 2020 the purchases of “electric” cars that are stimulated by the Rabla Plus Program will register significantly higher volumes than the previous year (at nine months already having an overall increase of 59.6% in registrations), given that there are over 2,200 electric and plug-in hybrid car reservations compared to just 1,300 last year (+ 69%), according to APIA.

The network of charging stations at country level is also in full development. From large commercial chains to major players in the fuel market to top energy companies, the direction is the same: charging points to meet the needs of electric car users.

Users of electric cars also have also solutions for charging the car at home, which offer various advantages, as opposed to charging at the outlet, which, if the power supply of the electric meter is limited (for example to 3 kWh), brings certain constraints.

An option that starts being used in our country too is the smart meter – a device for measuring electricity consumption that ensures a two-way, remote and automated flow between the central system of the electricity distributor and the final consumer. Thanks to its functions, the smart meter could make charging electric vehicles cheaper and more environmentally friendly, giving consumers greater control over energy consumption. Thus, as soon as consumption offers are available at hourly intervals, they will be able to charge their vehicle in the intervals when energy is cheaper and “greener’.

In the UK, a Smart Energy GB study shows that rapidly growing consumer interest in electric vehicles will be accelerated even more by the deployment of smart meters. More than eight million Britons are considering buying or renting an electric vehicle over the next five years, which shows that people are becoming more aware of how smart meters can integrate with electric vehicles to help reduce energy costs. More than a third of respondents said they would be more interested in buying an electric vehicle if they had a smart meter, while a third of drivers said they would be more likely to buy an electric vehicle if they could schedule it to automatically charge at home when the energy cost is lower (a practice known as smart charging).

In Romania, according to the estimates mad by the regulator body (ANRE), by 2028, approximately 4 million smart meters might be installed throughout the country. At the end of 2019, 1,120,790 smart meters were installed in Romania, compared to the 988,507 forecasted, according to ANRE data, exceeding the smart metering plan at national level due to Enel’s distribution companies, which installed more meters by 22% to 26.7%, compared to the plan. In 2020, E-Distribuţie Muntenia is to install approximately 80,000 smart meters in the counties of Bucharest, Giurgiu and Ilfov, E-Distribuţie Dobrogea will install almost 41,000 smart meters in the counties of Călărași, Constanța, Ialomița and Tulcea, while E-Distribuţie Banat will installs meters with the new technology for approximately 50,000 customers in the counties of Arad, Caraş-Severin, Hunedoara and Timiș. Investments in the over 170,000 smart meters installed by Enel’s distribution companies in 2020 amount to over 56 million lei.

Electric cars seem to have all the attributes to become the cars of the future, with proven benefits related to air and noise pollution – but charging infrastructure and energy systems must keep up with these changes. A first step for the network modernization is the smart meter.

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