Wheeling along quietly, without interference

CISPR's work on behalf of the electric vehicle

By Philippa Martin-King

One of the IEC TCs (Technical Committees) that deals with EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) is CISPR, the international special committee on radio interference. CISPR works to minimize interference, or rather the unwanted effects of it. The TC is facing new challenges in a world of increasing electrification where the use of EVs (electric vehicles) is becoming more widespread.

Testing for EMC.
Testing for EMC.

New challenges include EVs and connection to the Smart Grid

CISPR (the international special committee on radio interference) came into being in 1933. CISPR's role as a special IEC committee is to set the limits for electrical interference to radio reception caused or emitted by all types of electrical appliances, so that different devices can function correctly within the same electromagnetic environment. 

CISPR's original work tended to protect the early telegraph and radio operators from the phantom signals that were generated by solar activity on the transmission wires of the times. Today, there are new challenges that involve the Smart Grid, with its fluctuating supply of renewable energies, and the advent of the EV as a means of personal mobility, with its accompanying requirement for numerous battery charging points.

Steering committee on Smart Grid

The CISPR NC (National Committee) representatives present at their October 2011 plenary meeting in Korea approved the motion to set up a Steering Committee Working Group on Smart Grids. Indeed, CISPR’s primary standardization work lies in the control of radio frequency emissions above 9 kHz that emanate from devices. Much of this work concerns the overall magnitude of emissions appearing in Smart Grid systems. Applying CISPR standards ensures that the Smart Grid achieves its potential and serves a useful purpose without reducing the performance of grid-connected equipment or giving rise to complaints about radio frequency interference in these and other devices that rely on radio transmission and reception.

Coordinating EMC standardization efforts

Electromagnetic threats or disturbances can be caused both by AC connections and by surrounding apparatus. The generic immunity International Standard, IEC 61000-6-2, issued by the second of the IEC TCs that deals with EMC, IEC TC 77: Electromagnetic compatibility, describes a variety of indoor and outdoor environments encompassed by the standard. Many of this type of immunity standards are referenced in CISPR immunity standards. One of the objects of a working group will be to focus on CISPR technical activity and coordinate its EMC work with TC 77 and other IEC TCs in order to ensure a harmonized approach on EMC.

Quite apart from the need to ensure that the public has access to easy-to-use, fast-charging and economic methods of charging their own private vehicles, with standardized plugs, there is another aspect to deploying electrified transport. It concerns the overall challenge of continuing to maintain a steady flow of electricity globally around the grid without blackouts or surges while ensuring that there is sufficient power available to charge EV batteries at precise hours of high demand.

Intelligence of the Smart Grid relies on data transmission

In order to provide the Smart Grid with the necessary intelligence about when and where power is needed to charge EVs and what power is available from what sources, including renewable energies, the relevant data  needs to be exchanged and communicated. This allows the Smart Grid to make informed decisions and manage its power needs appropriately.

EV charging involves millions of "bits" of data

The CHAdeMO Association set up by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Fuji Heavy Industries and TEPCO (The Tokyo Electric Power Company Inc.) for quick public EV chargers in 2009 projected that they would need millions of stations in order to satisfy public demand. That would mean managing millions of "bits" of information about the various charging needs and the requirements of each individual charging station.

Dealing with peak demands

The distribution network – the grid – also needs to be equipped to deal with the peak demands – for example, when people return home after work and look to charge their EVs using their own domestic electricity source. Today's infrastructure is ill-equipped to deal with such surges in demand. That demands greater intelligence and more precision about the relevant data.

Sorting out the information

To be efficient, the data from the various charging points needs to be sent through broadband communication channels to a Smart Grid centre where it can be processed and entered into the system. However, to work correctly, the intelligence of the system needs to be able to differentiate the frequency and the voltage of the data signal sent along the broadband power line from any other extraneous electronic noise that also happens to be there.

This is where the International Standards from CISPR and IEC TC 77 on conducted and radiated immunity levels are so important.

Reducing load

The extra intelligence provided by a Smart Grid can help even out loads and optimize power distribution. It can also help a utility work towards reducing peak loads – for example by offering discounts or other incentives to encourage drivers to charge their EVs when overall electricity demand is lowest, typically in the early morning hours.

Opening the market

International Standards that define the frequencies and the relevant protocols for EMC will enable the Smart Grid to function properly. That will allow citizens to plug in their EV and charge up their battery in any country. It follows that by doing so the market will open up, allowing manufacturers to produce more competitively-priced vehicles for mass distribution.

Testing for EMC. Testing for EMC.
Future charging stations for EV [Source: Siemens]. Future charging stations for EV [Source: Siemens].
Electric vehicle quick charger [photo: P. Martin-King]. Electric vehicle quick charger [photo: P. Martin-King].