One of the primary concerns about electric cars among vehicle buyers remains the question of where they can plug it in. IBM, which has made a specialty in recent years of using its experience with data platforms to enable shifts in energy usage and monitoring, is now working in a slate of European countries to “allow energy providers, car manufacturers and charging point owners to share integrate services on one common IT platform.”
IBM says the concept is similar to mobile phone roaming, with drivers able to charge and pay in any location across borders. The demonstration project, launching this week in Europe and called B2B Marketplace, builds on efforts to improve EV production and distribution in a number of European countries, including Ireland, Spain, Germany and Denmark among others.
Like many of IBM’s energy efforts, the B2B marketplace (part of the European Union-funded Green eMotion project) is part of a partnership and places scalable and standards-based IBM technology at the heart of an effort drawing on the skills of multiple stakeholders and companies. There are 43 companies involved in the Green eMotion project, which intends to establish European-wide infrastructure for electric vehicles by 2015.
In the US, efforts have been much more regional but no less ambitious. Companies like NRG Energy have been financing charging stations and looking for ways to integrate electric vehicle technology into systems and infrastructure designed for gasoline fueling.
Utilities have had mixed feelings about electric vehicles since their inception; while enthusiastic about the potential for new demand the additional and uneven demand could strain reliability in new and unexpected ways. A separate initiative going into place in Ireland called the ESB Networks Smarter Charging System will allow information sharing that could “revolutionize EV sharing,” the global technology and data giant says.