IBM, Honda, and PG&E have made a joint announcement about a new pilot program they are launching that will allow electric vehicles to communicate to the power grid, and receive charging instructions based on conditions. The program is being launched to gain better insight into how electric car drivers charge their vehicle, and to better anticipate the demand that the eco friendly cars are going to have on the power grid as adoption of EVs continues to grow.
How it Works
From a driver’s perspective, this is how the system will work:
- You plug your electric vehicle into a charging post, and your car requests a charge via its internal computer
- IBM’s Electric Vehicle Enablement Platform receives the request along with your vehicle’s battery state
- It consults grid data provided by PG&E, and creates a ‘charging schedule’ for your vehicle, and communicates it back within seconds
- Your vehicle charges at optimal conditions based on your battery amount and current grid conditions
Why Smarter Charging is Needed
Although electric cars eliminate vehicle emissions, they only cut our overall emissions if we are using clean power sources to charge the vehicle’s battery. At this point in time, we simply do not have enough alternative energy sources contributing to the grid in order to cleanly power a massive fleet of vehicles. So although we want more and more people to drive electric cars, we don’t want dirty energy source like coal to be what powers them. And more importantly, we don’t want there to be a risk of a blackout when a large number of cars plug in during peak hours on any given day.
By having stricter control over the grid, and managing peak times better, utility providers like PG&E can better allocate energy to vehicles. For instance, if a car plugs in on at peak time on a sunny day, the utility provider may provide a faster charging rate, as the power could be drawn by solar energy generators, where on a cloudy day the vehicle may receive a slower charging rate to reduce the amount of stress placed on the grid to avoid a blackout.
It is the first step into better managing renewable energy charging for electric vehicles.
Check out the video below for further details on how this could work, along with a smartphone app: