What is Smart Charging?
Smart EV charging allows charge point operators (CPOs) and electric vehicle (EV) drivers to optimize the EV charging process. This optimization follows preset criteria such as time of day, electricity costs, EV battery state of charge (SOC), etc.
Application of Smart Charging
It is essential for EV charging to be managed in a way that preserves the integrity and safety of the electrical network, due to the load that charge points add to the grid. This is particularly so during peak energy usage and with older electric installations. These are two cases where the charging infrastructure may overload the system if not managed properly. Grid overloads are not only a safety concern but also costly to energy providers, CPOs, and EV drivers alike.
Smart charging is the industry’s answer to concerns about the impact of charging networks on grid stability. This solution uses algorithms and pre-set criteria to monitor and control charging sessions, how much energy they use, and when. Smart charging responds to energy use fluctuations by managing charging session schedules, duration, and power consumption and integrating renewable energy sources where available.
For all its benefits, it’s important to note that there are prerequisites for smart charging to work. On the one hand, it requires a “smart” EV charger, and on the other—a compatible charge point management system (CPMS). “Smart” chargers have extended capabilities beyond the legacy charging stations that first appeared on the market.
CPMS and OCPP
As for the CPMS—this is a backend software that serves as the management hub for smart charging. This, typically cloud-based, backend system controls the amount of energy an EV gets while charging as well as the charging rate and schedule.
This entire functionality is enabled by the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). This open standard protocol facilitates the exchange of messages between the charge point and the CPMS. The latter makes decisions based on data collected from the charger, such as electricity demand, current SOC, and the EV battery’s charging specifications.
It is also possible for EV drivers to manage smart charging features through a mobile app that’s linked to the CPMS. This way, users may set parameters like charging schedule and desired SOC.
Smart Charging Techniques
Managing and balancing energy use through smart charging may happen in the following ways:
- Load shifting: During load shifting, the charging management system assigns a charging schedule away from peak load hours.
- Peak shaving: Peak shaving sets charging energy use below a preset threshold. If overall energy usage exceeds this threshold, charging will pause until energy utilization drops below the threshold.
- Dynamic load balancing: Dynamic load balancing is also known as Dynamic load management (DLM). This process distributes energy use evenly among consumers like EVs, charge points, heaters, elevators, electric appliances, etc.
Smart Charging Methods
Smart charging uses a range of signals to decide when and how to manage and balance energy consumption.
- Time-based smart charging: Time-based signals consider Time of Use (TOU) electricity rates. For example, there are certain times in the day when energy use is much higher than usual consumption levels therefore it’s also more expensive. TOU smart charging turns on charging during off-peak hours when electricity prices are lower.
- Load-based smart charging: Load-based smart charging adjusts charging based on real-time data about grid load. This adjustment may include starting, stopping, slowing down, or speeding up the charging process.
- Demand response: Utilities and energy providers use demand response programs to balance energy use through so-called demand response (DR) signals. These signals encourage users to reduce or shift their electricity consumption by offering them financial incentives.
Benefits of Smart Charging
There are many benefits that smart charging brings to CPOs, EV drivers, and utilities.
- Revenue generation: Smart charging allows CPOs to increase their revenue by enabling them to offer dynamic charging rates and value-added services like integrating renewable energy resources and bidirectional charging.
- Cost savings: It can lower peak electricity demand, improve energy efficiency, and enable cost savings for utilities, drivers, and CPOs.
- Energy efficiency and grid stability: Energy efficiency is about making the most of the energy supply. Smart charging helps with that by controlling EV charging in a way that is consistent with available energy. The same applies to maintaining grid stability and avoiding power outages.
- Environmental impact: Integrating renewable energy resources is essential for producing environmentally conscious energy. Smart charging can tap into such resources when available and use them to charge EVs with green energy.
- Regulatory compliance: It is becoming common for countries to mandate smart charging technology in charge points to encourage sustainable energy consumption.
Practical Examples of Smart Charging
Here are some practical examples of how smart charging can be used:
- A CPO may offer dynamic pricing for its public EV charging stations. Charging rates will be lower at off-peak hours, encouraging EV drivers to charge their vehicles during those times, thus reducing peak demand.
- A business installs smart chargers in its employee parking lot. The chargers are programmed to charge the EVs during off-peak hours when energy demand by the business is lower. This helps the company to save money on its energy bills.
- An EV driver installs a smart charger at home. The charger is programmed to charge the EV when the sun is shining to take advantage of solar power. This provides energy independence and better cost-efficiency to EV owners owning renewable energy resources.
Additional Information About Smart Charging
More advanced smart charging systems allow EVs to send energy back to the grid through the so-called Vehicle-to-grid (V2G), Vehicle-to-building (V2B), and Vehicle-to-home (V2H) technologies. In this way, EVs act as distributed energy resources (DER).
Smart charging can be used in various settings, including:
- Public charging stations: Delaying charging sessions and preventing multiple EVs from charging simultaneously alleviates congestion at public charging stations.
- Workplace charging: Charging electric cars during off-peak hours helps businesses in reducing their energy expenses.
- Home charging: Optimizing home energy use by charging electric vehicles during periods of lower grid stress.
Learn More About Smart Charging
Smart charging is an important matter in the EV world. However, understanding all the details can be daunting. To simplify things for you, AMPECO has crafted a helpful guide on smart charging that covers all the essential aspects in a user-friendly format.
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