Smart charging for local flexibility

Overview of the status and impact of the innovation

Innovation 2


Smart charging allows distribution system operators (DSOs) to use the flexibility enabled by smart charging to reduce the need to reinforce their distribution infrastructure (smartEN, 2022). Regulations can encourage this use of flexibility by enabling DSOs to take direct control of the EV load and manage vehicles’ charging capacities and charging speeds as agreed by customers. Load can be controlled directly by DSOs or via aggregators, which have more complete information on EV loads.

Controlling EV charging as a demand-response tool can also provide the control services needed to cope with voltage changes caused by sudden changes in demand. Charging can be controlled using information communicated from vehicles or chargers, or directly via chargers (California Public Utilities Commission, 2020; ENTSO-E, 2022a; EERE, 2011).

Another way of providing local flexibility is via designated marketplaces. Local markets for trading electricity flexibility can be created for neighbourhoods, communities or small cities. These markets then provide revenues to market operators and participants, while also improving the operation of the distribution grid.


Smart charging of EVs can be an important local flexibility source, helping DSOs manage grid congestion and control voltage. It is important to design supportive regulatory frameworks and set an appropriate value for these services.

BOX 3.13 Regulatory framework for the distribution system operator in Great Britain

The British regulator Ofgem created a new price control framework for DSOs in 2019, providing an incentive for the creation of local flexibility markets and the use of flexibility services as an alternative to adding generation or distribution infrastructure. The framework requires DSOs to submit a business plan for using flexibility to maximise the use of existing network capacity. The plan must be fair, simple and transparent.

The new regulations have prompted six DSOs in Great Britain to use flexibility markets. The framework has also attracted new players like EPEX SPOT, which has launched new flexibility platforms: the NODES marketplace and Piclo Flex. Ofgem estimates savings of up to GBP 4.5 billion per year for customers by reducing the need for new generation capacity and grid expansion.

Source: (smartEN. 2022).