Electrification of fleets continues to grow as more EVs, including light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, and automobiles, come onto the marketplace. In fact, EVs are expected to make up 31% of the global fleet by 2050. With fleet vehicles contributing close to 25% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, electrification is particularly attractive to organizations looking to meet sustainability goals at the tailpipe. However, in the big picture, environmental gains from EVs may be offset by stressing the grid. EV charging is predicted to add 4–10% to energy demand at peak usage hours. That means fleet managers cannot always take the availability of power for granted. One resolution for EV fleet operators is smart energy management, which can help reduce grid stress, avoid expensive grid upgrades that will translate into higher energy costs, and reduce EV total cost of ownership (TCO) by charging vehicles when energy costs are lowest.
What is smart energy management?
Smart energy management is a software solution that uses algorithms and operational tools to balance energy supply coming from the grid with demand for energy used by the EV charging infrastructure. Here are the capabilities and benefits that smart energy management offers EV fleet operators or fleet charging service providers.
1. Manage demand and response
Whether your depot or campus charging facilities have a few or dozens of chargers, smart energy management can balance demand and response throughout the day to avoid overconsumption by charging too many vehicles at peak load times. Businesses that go over the maximum capacity could be subject to high fees and fines. Grid operators must either purchase additional energy on the open market to cover shortfalls or divert energy from other customers.
2. Leverage local energy sources to reduce costs and gain resilience
Smart energy management also enables EV fleet operators to increase charging capacity by using local renewable energy sources and storage, such as solar panels and batteries. When energy prices are lowest, the software can direct energy to onsite batteries for storage. When demand is high, the system directs power from onsite solar panels and batteries into the charging infrastructure, reducing stress on the grid and energy costs.
Using local energy sources also helps protect EV fleet operations from disruption in the event of a power outage, increasing resiliency of fleet operations. Power from local batteries as well as renewable energy can help keep EVs charged and ready for business. Also, smart energy management software supports using business policies to determine charging priorities when energy availability is limited.
3. Participate in flexible energy markets
Smart energy management lets fleet operators profit from the flexibility market—an energy marketplace that allows fleets and other customers to opt-out of charging when energy demand is high and receive money for doing so. This is an emerging concept enabling aggregators to convince large energy consumers like fleets and charging point operators to reduce energy usage during certain hours of the day.
4. Support a future-ready EV fleet charging infrastructure
On the near horizon in fleet charging innovation is vehicle-to-grid (V2G), an innovative technology that allows EVs to green the grid by serving as a vast, decentralized storage resource for renewable energy. With V2G, energy stored in vehicle batteries can be sent to the grid, with vehicle owners getting compensation. Automobiles in EV fleets spend a lot of time parked and plugged in, which makes them ideal for V2G participation. Smart energy management orchestrates the vehicle-to-grid and grid-to vehicle energy flows that take place through a charge point while ensuring fleet vehicles are ready to go when they need to.
5. Contribute to sustainability goals
Replacing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles with a zero-emission fleet can make a considerable contribution to enterprise goals for lowering greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions–-which in turn adds to brand value. Smart energy management, by balancing demand and response, helps organizations avoid increasing their own GHG emissions to meet the increased energy demand from fleet EV charging.
As more fleets are electrified and charging infrastructure grows, smart energy management will become increasingly important. It supports sustainability of the grid overall, avoiding blackouts and interruptions of service by drawing less energy for EV charging at peak demand times. By using EV charging and energy management software, fleet operators can gain TCO advantages from the outset by optimizing energy consumption and minimizing costs.