EV Smart Charging: What’s in it for the EV Charging Ecosystem
What is EV Smart Charging?
The exponential growth of EVs has led to an increase in energy demand, burdening the electrical infrastructure. However, EV smart charging creates a win-win scenario for balancing the demands of EV charging and the grid. Smart charging – also known as smart energy management – streamlines demand balancing, minimizing stress on the grid during times of peak demand and reducing the need for heavy investment in grid infrastructure. It optimizes the vehicle charging infrastructure by directly addressing grid constraints, renewable energy availability, and EV owner preferences and needs.
Smart EV charging also provides the ability to use EVs as a decentralized storage resource that can be fed back into the grid. It’s more commonly implemented during a longer-charge scenario, where the vehicle is parked during the day or at home during the evening.
Smart EV Charging comes in three forms – V1G, V2G, and V2H-B.
- V1G – unidirectional, controlled charging, where charging infrastructure adjusts its rate of charging, based on grid requirements.
- V2G – vehicle-to-grid charging, where the vehicle’s battery is used to return energy to the grid during periods of high demand, and the vehicle is charged during off-peak times. The vehicle remains connected, and the smart charging management system adjusts the direction accordingly.
- V2H-B – Vehicle to home or building, where the stored energy within the vehicle’s battery provides power to the home or building, based on the immediate requirements. Again, the battery is recharged when demand is reduced.
Smart EV Charging in Action
Smart EV charging begins with the infrastructure, allowing monitoring, management, and control of charging to optimize energy utilization. Smart energy management optimizes demand and delivers a balance across and within the charging infrastructure including renewable resources, grid power and batteries, among building sites, between EV charge points, and even charger to charger.
Sophisticated management tools are critical to balance network power, chargers, vehicle battery state-of-charge and user behavior.
For EV charging providers without automated controls within their charging infrastructure, they can simply choose to offer different prices during non-peak v. peak charging hours. Other long-duration charging sites may have simple on-off switches that simply stop vehicle charging during times of peak demand and restart the process when grid demand falls.
V2G and V2B-H charging infrastructures effectively manage the demand to ensure that both the vehicles and the grid benefit from the interaction. Ideally, the solution allows EV charging consumers – individuals or fleet drivers – to provide estimated departure times to ensure that the vehicle will be fully charged when it is time for them to leave the premises.
EV Smart Charging Benefits All
EV Smart charging provides significant benefits to the EV charging ecosystem as a whole – from the utility to individual EV drivers. It optimizes and stabilizes energy flow within a balanced grid while ensuring more reliable service and quality power.
From the perspective of the utility, smart energy management enables them to optimize their infrastructure by efficiently distributing the available power between vehicles and other power consumers. Utilities can incentivize later-in-the-day charging, supplying energy via their solar power stores and push late-night charging, when overall network demand is down.
Investing in EV charging, especially smart EV charging, brings long-term capital and operating benefits to businesses. For commercial or retail centers, the site generates more customer traffic thanks to the charge points. Based on the type of EV power storage infrastructure they choose, they can sell power back to the grid during times of peak demand or offer public charging during off-hours.
With EV smart charging, businesses offering charge points to their employees or customers can ensure that they maintain the critical balance between the facility and the EV charging power requirements as not to incur peak pricing charges. Furthermore, smart charging enhances their ability to control their building’s energy capacity, avoiding high demand charges..
For individual EV drivers, smart EV charging’s greatest incentive is cheaper, eco-friendly, and safer charging.
EV owners with home-based renewable energy systems can further increase their benefits and lower costs by storing additional energy in their vehicles during the day and then discharging that energy at night for use within their homes. Some utilities are even offering lower rates to consumers who install V2G charging systems.
The Challenges to Adoption
Realizing the benefits of V2G and V2B may be stymied due to the existing regulatory environment, lack of standards, unclear business models and technical obstacles.
New tariff management rules need to go into effect to allow utilities to pass along peak and non-peak rates to their wholesale and retail customers and related discounts for allowing vehicles to be used in V2G and V2B situations.
Standards must be developed to allow easy communication within the ecosystem regarding power usage, and smart charging transactions. Homes and buildings require smart meters that can differentiate between the sources of the power.
The smart charging management infrastructure needs to be flexible enough to allow different billing models based on end electricity arbitrage and EV driver non-peak/peak charging, all delivered in real-time. Pricing also needs to be clearly communicated via the self-service app so consumers can make educated decisions about charging times and locations.
Smart EV Charging is The Future
With the exponential growth of EVs, smart energy management will be imperative for optimizing the charging infrastructure by efficiently monitoring, managing and adjusting energy consumption, providing optimal demand response and EV charging experience.