Home Energy services A better way to smartly charge EVs: talk to the car

A better way to smartly charge EVs: talk to the car


Some electric vehicle owners may be happy to save money by letting utilities control when charging takes place, a way to reduce the strain on the power grid. But they also want to be sure they have a full battery when they need it. What’s a good way to make sure this happens? Allow utilities to communicate directly with electric vehicles.

This is why Apoorv Bhargava, CEO of weaving grid, sees telematics – the on-board computers and communication technology inside EVs – as a focal point of EV smart charging programs. While most public services have relied on VE chargers to play this role, WeaveGrid partners with utilities to enable them to leverage telematics to get the information they need to manage smart charging programs. The company’s utility customers include Baltimore Gas & Electric, Xcel Energy in Colorado, Oregon Portland General Electric and, more recently, Pacific Gas of California & Electrical (PG&E).

This link with the VE himself can build a clearer picture of what is happening in mobility to inform what is happening in electricity,” he said. How does a customer behave? What value can this behavior create for the power grid? Having an incomplete picture on the data side makes this very difficult.

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Obtaining accurate data on customer needs is especially important if VE homeowners face an impending grid outage, such as those triggered occasionally in California to reduce the risk of starting a raging wildfire.

Last week, WeaveGrid and PG&E has teamed up to launch evPulsea smart charging pilot program available exclusively to customers who live in power outage risk areas as part of PG&The regime of E of forest fire prevention network outages on hot and windy days. These power cuts for public safety”, or PSPS events, have left hundreds of thousands of customers without power, some for days at a time, over the past three years – and for VE conductors, this loss of power could leave them stranded.

The evPulse program, designed to support between 8,000 and 16,000 clients once fully deployed, will alert VE owners before these outages happened, Bhargava said. It can help making sure their car is topped up whenever they need it, whether it’s driving to grandma’s house for a PSPS event,” or, as home vehicle charging technology becomes more widely available, to have them close at hand whenever they need them [home electricity] to save. »

A utility can see a EV primarily as a major new grid load to control, or perhaps, a battery on wheels to harness to help the grid. But WeaveGrid’s work is grounded in the understanding that a VE the owner sees it differently. The customer values ​​their car as a car, above and beyond anything else,” he said. People have very different relationships with their vehicles than with their thermostats, air conditioners, water heaters, or other devices that are typically targeted for remote control by utilities.

I don’t drive my smart thermostat to work. I don’t put my kids in my smart thermostat,” Bhargava said. Mobility is an application with high added value.

Telematics: The Battery Tracker on Wheels

Telematics is built into almost all modern vehicles today, using GPS cellular communications and other technologies to track location, driver behavior and specifics of vehicle operation. Automakers have their own systems like OnStar from General Motors, Safety Connect from Toyota and BMWit is BMW To help. Third-party systems such as those from Geotab and Samsara connect fleet vehicles.

Electric vehicles need even more telematics systems, which can closely monitor the state of their batteries, estimate how much range they have left and help drivers plan ahead for charging. It really matters not just to us, but to automakers,” Bhargava said.

Adam Langton, director of energy services at BMW North America, said the German automaker has been using telematics for VE managed charging programs in Europe for years, as well as long-running projects with North American utilities, including PG&E and Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

The advantage we have over a charging system is that we know everything about the vehicle: the state of charge, how long it will take to charge, and the size of the battery,” Langton said. It gives BMWUtility partners are more insightful than smart VE chargers can supply.

Langton also pointed out that many VE owners do not have VE chargers. Many customers won’t install a charging station” in their homes, he says. They will simply plug their car into a switchboard 120-volt outlet, he said, or maybe a 240-volt outlet, which some homes already have for dryers, using a power cord that many car manufacturers include with their electric vehicles. Charging programs that use telematics are open to those VE owners too.

A growing number of utilities are turning to telematics for these reasons, said Zach Woogen, policy manager at the Vehicle-Network Integration Consultinga group representing VE load makers and makers. Beyond PG&E, California’s other two major investor-owned utilities, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, are seeking regulatory permission to launch their own telematics-based managed charging programs, he noted.

We will need both these telematics approaches and grid-based charger options if we are to evolve electric vehicles as a grid-based resource,” Woogen said. Not all customers will be able to afford or want to use a networked Level 2 charger. If we want to scale, we need to offer the widest possible set of avenues for participation. »

Joseph Vellone, head of North America for the charging software provider ev.energysaid about 90 % of participating utilities use EV telematics in the managed charging programs that his company manages. Ev.energy customers include national grid in Massachusetts, United Illuminating in Connecticut, and community choice aggregators Silicon Valley Clean Energy and ECM in California.

Frankly, what we’re seeing is that even with discounts available, a lot of customers aren’t interested in buying from a network” VE charger, he said.

Tap into VE telematics requires companies like ev.energy and WeaveGrid to work with automakers to integrate their technologies. PG&E’s evPulse program now works with Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Tesla and Toyota electric vehicles, for example. WeaveGrid is integrating with more vehicles, Bhargava said.