E-mobility refers to clean and efficient transport, using electric vehicles, powered either by batteries or by hydrogen fuel cells. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) have big growth potential, provided that there are also investments in the development of smart grids, ‘intelligent’ electricity distribution systems. The success of BEV deployment is indeed intrinsically linked to smart grid development, since the charging infrastructure is a precondition for large scale adoption of electric vehicles.
Smart grids will be the backbone of the EU’s future energy system. These upgraded electricity networks, with intelligent metering and monitoring capacities and a two-way digital communication between supplier and consumer, should predict and respond to the behaviour and actions of all users connected. This will result in the efficient delivery of reliable, economic and sustainable electricity services. Smart grids will also compensate for intermittent electricity generation from renewable sources that are dependent on the weather, such as wind and solar power.
The JRC looks into interoperability issues between the electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure, covering hardware and information exchange protocols. Also interoperability of the EV fleet and the smart grid is investigated. Pre-normative research and support to the formulation of regulations addressing interoperability issues are complemented with performance and safety assessment of the power batteries.
VELA (Vehicle Emissions Laboratory)
VELA is the JRC’s Vehicle Emissions Laboratory, capable of measuring the emissions and environmental impacts of a wide range of vehicles, from motorcycles to heavy-duty trucks. These measurements are carried out according to standard test protocols and in realistic operating conditions, e.g. parking conditions on a hot summer’s day. The JRC has also started using Portable Emission Measurement Systems (PEMS) to measure emissions from combustion engines as the vehicle or the equipment is being used, which allows real-world in-use testing.
PEMS offer a modern and innovative counterpart to check the impact of emissions from combustion engines upon the environment. The PEMS used for emissions regulatory purposes integrate advanced gas analyzers, exhaust mass flow meters, data from weather stations, Global Positioning System (GPS) and the connection to the vehicle networks. PEMS provide a complete and very accurate real-time monitoring of the pollutants emitted by the engines.
In 2011 the JRC extended its VELA installations and set up new laboratories focussing on the testing of electric vehicles and smart grids, and on the communication between them. It contributes to the development of standards regarding vehicle-grid interconnections, energy distribution and safety measures, hence improving interoperability. VELA’s Electric Vehicle and Smart Grid Interoperability Centre, for instance, works closely together with the US Department of Energy on standardisation and the promotion of a common approach to testing electric vehicle and smart grid equipment.
Since 2000 the JRC also joined forces with EUCAR, the European Council for Automotive R&D and CONCAWE, the Oil Companies’ European Organisation for Environment, Health and Safety. Together they form JEC, a research collaboration group, devoted to providing EU institutions, member states and sector stakeholders with scientific facts about energy use and efficiency, emissions from a broad range of vehicles and fuel options.
Biofuels and bioenergy
The JRC aims to provide independent scientific advice related to the production and use of biofuels. With this research it assesses the environmental sustainability, evaluates the technological developments, estimates the land use change due to an increased biofuels demand, calculates the direct and indirect emissions from biofuels, land use change and different bioenergy pathways.
Close up of a plug in an electric car
The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) of the U.S. Department of Energy are leading the work on electro-mobility and interoperability with Smart Grids in working group 2 of the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (TTC). This infographic highlights the main concepts of their pre-normative research, which responds to the forecasted increase in the global market for electric vehicles (EV) and supports EU-U.S. commitments to clean energy and decarbonisation.