Smart EV Charging and Energy Management: the Essential Guide

Posted By Driivz Team

November 20, 2023


What is EV Smart Charging?

Smart electric vehicle (EV) charging uses intelligence and connectivity to manage when and how an EV plugged into a smart charger will receive power for charging based on the cost of electricity, its availability, and the driver’s needs. EV smart charging lets operators monitor, manage, and adjust energy consumption. It requires a data connection between the EV and the smart charger, and a data connection between the charger, the charge point operator’s cloud-based EV charging management platform and the grid.

For home charging, WiFi connects the smart charger to a mobile app and possibly to your energy provider. The smart charger connects to the EV, the home power supply, and possibly the grid. Drivers use the app to control the smart charger and determine when to charge the EV, avoiding peak usage times while ensuring the car is ready to drive at the right time.

What is Smart Energy Management for EV Charging?

Smart energy management adds another dimension to public, fleet, multifamily residential, and commercial EV smart charging. It optimizes energy consumption based on grid constraints, energy pricing, renewable energy availability, locally stored energy, preconfigured EV owner preferences, and driver needs. Smart energy management optimizes the charging infrastructure by efficiently delivering available power to EVs, shifting charging loads across chargers and energy sources to safely deliver electricity without interfering with the power needs of buildings, homes, or other power consumers.

How Does Smart EV Charging Work?

When an electric vehicle is charged using smart charging, the owner plugs in the charging cable and a communication session is established between the smart charger and the car. If the driver and car are registered with the EV charging provider, nothing else needs to happen. The smart EV charging platform recognizes the driver, initiates the session with the optimum energy utilization, monitors the battery charge in the vehicle, concludes the session when the vehicle is charged, and bills the driver based on their agreed-upon terms.

At the same time, a communications session is established between the charger, the other chargers and energy resources at the charging location (the infrastructure), the grid, and the charging operator’s smart EV charging and energy management platform. This centralized, cloud-based software platform manages the chargers themselves, the charging session, and the energy sources used.

How Does Smart Energy Management for EV Charging Work?

A charge point operator uses smart energy management module as part of the cloud-based software platform. The software determines the best time to charge and the best energy source to use for charging vehicles. It uses advanced algorithms and demand side response (DSR) to provide near real-time load balancing, dynamically distributing energy across multiple chargers at a fleet or public charging hub or a campus, helping prevent demand from exceeding grid capacity during peak usage times.

This computer screen shot shows an example of how Driivz Smart Energy Management software distributes power across multiple charge points at a single location.

How Does Smart Energy Management Help Overcome Grid Limitations?

With the exponential growth of EVs and their power requirements for charging, it’s inevitable that charge point operators will have to deal with site-level limitations. Demand side response reduces energy demand during times of grid stress. The smart energy management system can integrate power from onsite renewable sources such as solar panels or onsite batteries to provide the necessary electricity to charge the vehicles while simultaneously reducing the charging capacity of individual charge points, lengthening the time to charge plugged-in cars while lowering the grid stress.

Smart energy management lets the charge point operator monitor, manage, and adjust energy consumption according to business requirements and priorities specified by the operator or driver. The level of power supplied to chargers and energy utilization are visually displayed and can be adjusted according to EV and site requirements as well as constraints. This can also avoid penalties levied by the utility for over-stressing the grid and requiring the utility to purchase expensive power from the general capacity market.

With smart energy management, you can also capture and store generation surplus during low-demand periods, distributing the stored energy to chargers or back to the grid to help meet peak demand. Together these capabilities can flatten the demand curve and help a location reduce maximum capacity and costs.

What do EV Drivers Want from Smart Charging?

Private and fleet EV drivers want to charge anywhere – at the driver’s home, including multi-dwelling units like apartments and condos, workplace, depot, on the road, at a retail host – at any time. They want chargers to be easy to find, always available, and simple to use. EV drivers require complete transparency, with real-time information about charger availability as well as clarity about peak and non-peak pricing. With smart EV charging drivers can save money and optimize the total cost of operating an EV.

The key for a seamless charging experience is an easy-to-use mobile application. It can locate smart chargers inside and outside of the fleet or commercial operators’ network, with real-time charger availability and roaming support information, identify nearby points of interest, support reserve-ahead capability, and offer route planning and navigation. EV charging apps can also track transactions, manage payment methods and provide detailed information on billing plans.

Advantages of Smart Energy Management for Fleets

Many organizations are already transitioning their fleets from gasoline or natural gas to electric vehicles because of national regulations and policies, tax benefits and subsidies, incentives, reduced TCO for corporate-owned or leased vehicles, avoidance of “pollution penalties,” employee convenience, and a corporate social responsibility policy to reduce carbon emissions.

Fleet operators, like commercial charge point operators, need a comprehensive back-end system for centralized control and management of charging. An advanced fleet charging management solution should include smart energy management with demand-side response capabilities.

An energy management solution will allow fleet managers to prioritize the charging schedule of their fleet based on vehicle tasks, vehicle state-of-charge (SoC), available energy levels and pricing. EV fleet managers would be able to manually configure charging priorities or use algorithm-based prioritization. Larger fleet operations are well suited to using local solar energy generation and local battery storage to supplement the grid for regular charging and support high-capacity rapid chargers for prioritized charging. When V2G becomes a reality, fleets are ideally positioned to generate new V2G revenue that can offset the cost of electrification.

Smart EV Charging in Commercial and Industrial Buildings

The growth in EV adoption is creating new business opportunities for commercial and industrial building owners who can meet EV driver needs for charging during the day while they are at work or visiting shopping malls, restaurants, and other commercial and industrial (C&I) destinations. The same holds true for residential multi-dwelling units (MDUs). Chargers can be a source of new revenue or a way to offer perks to customers, employees and tenants.


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Owners can build, own and operate charge point infrastructure, lease space to a charge point operator, or acquire the infrastructure from an EV charging-as-a-service provider. Owners that build and operate their own infrastructure can use smart energy management to balance energy use between the chargers and the facility to help avoid costly grid connection upgrades. Owners can also use smart energy management to integrate charging and building infrastructure with onsite battery storage and renewables like solar panels. This lowers costs and maximizes local infrastructure and topology to support as many EVs as possible.

With all these capabilities, C&I buildings will be ready for carbon-neutral taxation because you will be able to demonstrate CO2 reduction. With carbon-neutral deadlines looming, it’s more important than ever for building owners to begin investigating the advantages of offering EV charging in Commercial and industrial buildings as part of their long-term environmental strategies.

What is the Flexibility Market for Energy?

The Universal Smart Energy Framework (USEF) extrapolates from the concept of consumer energy flexibility and applies it to the entire energy market, creating new players who can operate under a variety of business models. The USEF delivers a single common standard to ensure that smart energy products and implementations easily integrate to create a more sustainable, green energy market. Implementing USEF enables large-scale deployment of smart energy grids.

At its most basic level, power flexibility gives users more options about whether and when to use energy. Then, the “flexibility” is aggregated to critical mass, reducing grid stress and congestion, eliminating the need for expensive grid upgrades, and preventing utilities from having to buy power from other energy providers at high-demand prices. The flexibility aggregator – either the utility or a third party – uses AI and customer behavior analysis to determine what the expected flex demand will be for the next day to better plan for tomorrow’s power requirements. That flexibility can be monetized to reduce energy costs and improve capacity balancing.

Combining EV smart energy management with the flexibility market provides the electricity distribution system operator (DSO) more options for effective grid management. A comprehensive smart energy management system dynamically distributes energy to and from the grid, where real-time monitoring of campus power needs and vehicle requirements are balanced based on the energy priorities and states of charge.

Smart EV Charging and Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G)

Consumers have been lowering their power demands for more than a decade by adding solar panels to their roofs. Two-way or bidirectional EV charging will reduce power demand even further, using EV batteries to power homes (vehicle-to-home, or V2H), buildings (vehicle-to-building, or V2B) or feed it back to the grid with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology. Implementation of V2G, still in its infancy, depends on smart EV charging software to direct two-way charging and smart energy management to sense and respond to signals from the grid and track the flow of energy for billing and payment.

While V2H provides individual consumers significant benefit, V2B and V2G have a greater impact on the grid overall, as the power will be used on a much larger scale. For example, businesses will be able to use the energy from EV fleets at rest to power a significant portion of their campuses. Not only will bidirectional EV charging address grid demand on a practical level, but it also has the power to exponentially increase the green benefits of EV adoption by further reducing the emissions caused by primary power generation.

Most vehicles remain stationary more than 95 percent of the time, so V2G leverages that inactivity, enabling a two-way energy exchange between vehicle and grid. The energy from the EV batteries is available to the electric grid to serve peak needs, with the vehicles recharging during non-peak hours. Using EVs as decentralized electric storage resources, or batteries on wheels, minimizes the need for capital investments in the grid to support ever-increasing demand, while lowering operating costs.

According to EPRI research, “V2G technology can provide $1 billion in annual grid benefits, given 5 million EVs in 2030 (aggressive EV forecast and a California goal) with half of those V2G-enabled.”

V2G creates further flexibility within the overall grid, providing alternative energy sources for a range of applications. While many energy companies are increasing their usage of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, those sources cannot consistently produce power 24/7 due to weather. The gaps can be supplemented with V2G-transmitted power, in which EVs can charge using solar or wind power during the day and return the excess energy to the grid during the evening peak hours.

The Challenges of V2G

V2G is still an emerging technology, and there are challenges to address before widespread adoption is possible. The long-term effect of V2G activities on the EV’s battery life is unknown, and EV owner concern about the impact is an inhibitor. Getting owner buy-in to the idea is another obstacle; people buy EVs to use for transportation, not to serve as grid assets. Utilities offering fiscal compensation for the “loan” of energy as well as reassurance that vehicles will be ready to drive when needed can help encourage participation. EV owners may also be concerned about the data gathered about their driving and charging habits and will need to be assured that personal privacy is protected.

While drivers will need to be reassured and persuaded to participate in the EV ecosystem, the other key players in the value chain are also critical to its future success. Vehicle and charger manufacturers need to provide hardware support for V2G. EV charging infrastructure operators need to adopt V2G standards like ISO 15118 protocol and invest in chargers with two-way transmission capabilities. Smart EV charging management software providers also need to support standards and enable operators to play the “broker” role in grid interactions.

This screen image illustrates the difference between unmanaged EV charging versus EV Smart Charging Energy Management.

What are the Benefits of Smart EV Charging?

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.

Smart energy management enables a utility to optimize its 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 smart EV charging brings long-term capital and operating benefits to businesses. For commercial or retail centers and parking garages, the site generates more customer traffic as well as revenue thanks to the charge points. Plus, businesses and building owners can save on energy costs. 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 to avoid peak pricing charges. Furthermore, smart charging enhances control over a building’s energy capacity, avoiding high demand charges.

This is even more important for fleets that use electric vehicles. Buses, vans, and trucks must have enough energy when they leave for their route. The vehicle schedule, state of charge, and energy costs are critical information for the planning algorithm to make sure that vehicles leave with enough charge.

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.

Why Driivz for Smart EV Charging and Smart Energy Management?

Right now, two revolutions are happening simultaneously, in mobility and in energy. Driivz is bridging the gap between these two revolutions and facilitating their dialogue. Driivz smart EV charging and smart energy management technology and software are supporting EV market growth, driving the electrification of transportation and optimizing overall energy consumption.

Our dedication to producing advanced energy management tools means that EVs will be used to store energy, balancing the grid, lowering prices for end-users and reducing carbon emissions.

Driivz’s team of EV experts serves customers in more than 30 countries, including global industry players such as Shell, Volvo Group, EVgo, Centrica, Circle K, Recharge, St1, ElaadNL, ESB, Mer, Francis Energy, Ennet Corporation and eMobility Power. The Driivz platform currently manages tens of thousands of public chargers (hundreds of thousands in roaming) and hundreds of millions of events for millions of EV drivers in North America, Europe and APAC.


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