Electric vehicles have emerged as the embodiment of eco-friendly, sustainable, and forward-thinking transportation worldwide. They emit significantly less CO2 than their internal combustion counterparts, even when including electrical generation outputs. Even better, their energy storage systems equip them to adjust to wind and solar power fluctuations, as these come to supply a growing share of our energy mix.
However, there are several compelling arguments against purchasing an electric vehicle (EV). Overloaded power grids may force the untimely closure of charging stations, there may be long queues at available charging points, and worse, there may be sudden blackouts where you plug in your EV to charge overnight.
The state of charge points as we know them today does not necessarily encourage the adoption of EVs. Therefore, now more than ever, smart grid technologies, electric vehicle charging, and data interchange are essential to the green vehicle campaign. These technologies are, in some ways, even more critical than the electric car itself. In response, digital transformation services companies have sprung up to address the smart charging conundrum.
Why Smart Charging?
If only the problem were limited to a shortage of charging stations, the solution would be simple. Then, we would only need to install widespread charging infrastructure and sit back, expecting an exponential rise in EV sales.
With traditional charging points, the problem is a bit more nuanced. They cannot efficiently manage variable energy supplies since they only serve as a conduit between energy providers and customers.
A more varied list of energy sources (such as wind farms, solar panels, and CHP systems) leads to natural “peaks and troughs” or fluctuations in energy supply. The rising number of electric vehicles also raises the risk of a power grid overload on the consumer demand side. These variations on both sides may reinforce each other, amplifying the scale of the problem.
To all these issues, smart charging technologies can offer a solution. They can maintain a balance between produced and consumed energy. They combine EVs, chargers, and local energy grids into a unified ecosystem that communicates and exchanges data.
With this interconnected system, they can:
- Reveal real-time data, including how many EVs are waiting to charge and their potential impact on the power grid
- Determine automatically how much energy to supply a plugged-in EV
These technologies maximize the amount of time available to charge. With widespread deployment, the system would no longer be vulnerable during peak demands or when demand threatens to outstrip energy supply capacity.
The following stakeholders will find smart charging extremely useful:
- People who own electric vehicles
- Businesses with fleets that include EVs
- Public authorities that regulate urban infrastructure
The following three instances demonstrate real-life cases where smart charging successfully replaced traditional EV charging. Each story describes a single individual.
Private-use Smart Charging
Families and individuals frequently purchase electric vehicles and install charging stations in their garages. However, this arrangement increases the strain on the grid, which might lead to blackouts when combined with other household gadgets. Regular users of electric vehicles want a solution to charge their cars when energy demand (and cost) are low. They also want to avoid excessively adding to the load on the utility grid.
There are many EV smart charging options for home usage on the market. For instance, Wi-Fi-enabled options can match peak renewable energy generating periods with ideal car charging hours.
When you charge an EV during off-peak hours, you can save money on power and reduce the burden on the distribution system. Some alternative systems claim to charge ten times faster than a regular connection. Others have extra security mechanisms to safeguard an EV and a home from power fluctuations.
Usually, OEMs do not manufacture chargers by themselves, but Tesla is a notable exception. Instead, automobile manufacturers often collaborate with hardware companies to provide fast and affordable charging stations in homes. This collaboration is a good thing because it can mean a more rapid expansion in production capacity.
Again, this is positive because the more immediate and widespread the availability of home charging, the more people will buy electric vehicles.
Businesses and Smart Charging
These days, it’s far more common to find EVs within the fleets of public services and businesses (such as public buses and delivery buses). However, these organizations must consider how to charge their fleets since insufficient energy supply, a local system with inadequate capacity, and higher electricity rates are common issues.
Consider how Enexis, a Dutch grid operator, landed on an innovative smart charging solution that helped them save money. They faced issues with excessive energy use and a lack of control over their charging stations during busy hours. As a result, the corporation decided to upgrade the chargers to more powerful versions rather than replacing them entirely. The digital transformation services company was able to save $300,000 because of this.
The bottom line is that it is unnecessary to reconstruct the entire infrastructure. Smart charging may work with the current system and enhance efficiency or uptime. Rather than relying on expensive equipment, the technology depends on data sharing and management tools. For example, data on energy use aids in forecasting peak demand. Organizations can also balance the load thanks to the built-in dynamic load control capabilities.
Smart Charging in Public Spaces
Owners of electric vehicles would prefer to know, with greater certainty, public locations where they can charge. Users would also like automated payments and convenient charging session authentication. Such certainty requires real-time data on nearby charging stations and information on charging fees.
The most apparent option to simultaneously provide this real-time data and payment automation would be a smartphone application with these functions. Real-time information helps the smart charging digital transformation service to efficiently manage the grid capacity utilization at the charging station.
Most public EV charging networks currently operate basic en-route charging stations. Still, the industry leaders are increasingly turning to smart solutions. The FLO EV charging solutions company and the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting, for example, have collaborated on an urban EV smart charging project.
To alleviate range concerns, they set up 75 SmartTWO charging stations across the city, covering 89% of the area, which is a significant quantity. The devices are available at gas stations, public parking lots, retail parking lots, and other places with access control using a smartphone app or an RFID card.
Such a smartphone app might also be an extra sales engine for electric car producers. It can be user-friendly, with a built-in payment system and an easy-to-use interface. Integrating charging locations into the app’s navigation system and providing additional benefits to app users would be a step forward for OEMs. For example, the app might offer preferential access to a station or lower charging fees.
Digital transformation has paved the way for an EV charging value ecosystem. In addition to being affordable, reliable, and autonomous, connected charge points harmonize the charging cycle of EVs with both the need of individual vehicle owners and the status of the available power system. Little wonder, then, that smart charging technologies seem like vital parts of the emerging EV charging infrastructure.
Are you looking to outfit yourself with smart charging technologies? If so, contact us to set you up with this smart technology so you can enjoy the benefits.