Successful Smart Charging Pilot Shows Value to Utilities and Customers

on May 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM

A Nissan Leaf electric car is plugged in

Quick Take: Australian developer and system integrator DiUS has published a report documenting the results from a six-month pilot of smart charging — the process of letting the utility remotely control when and how fast electric vehicles (EVs) are charged.

Happily, the pilot in the Australian state of Victoria was a success, showing clear benefits both for the utility and for customers. In fact, customers were able to save the equivalent of $250 per year. And the utility was able to lower its peak by deferring EV charging to the evenings.

I’ve reprinted the executive summary below and included a link to download complete smart charging report from our site.

Demand management of electric vehicle charging using Victoria’s Smart Grid

This demonstration project has delivered the world’s first use of a Smart Grid for electric vehicle charging demand management.

In doing so, the project has demonstrated significant benefits for consumers and utilities from the Australian state of Victoria’s rollout of Smart Meters. It has also highlighted opportunities to ensure these benefits are fully realised as Victoria’s Smart Grid matures and electric vehicles become more widespread.

As part of the demonstration, electricity demand was managed for the first time using the Victorian Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). In managing Electric Vehicle (EV) charging through the Smart Grid, the project has demonstrated how EVs can be integrated into our electricity networks – easily, conveniently and cheaply.

For drivers, the benefits are clear. Based on residential electricity tariffs and the project outcomes, Victorian electric vehicle drivers could save around $250 per year, or around 50 per cent on their charging costs, by adopting ‘Smart’ charging practices. Grid-integrated ‘Smart’ charging technology would deliver this saving without sacrifice or effort on their part.

For utilities, the potential challenge posed in adding electric vehicle charging to existing demand may actually be an opportunity. Managing electric vehicle charging at the network level will not only defer costly infrastructure upgrades through peak demand management, but may deliver better returns on existing investments through improved asset utilisation. Grid-integrated ‘Smart’ charging technology would deliver these benefits and avoid creation of a ‘second peak’ in electricity demand as drivers individually defer charging to the off-peak period. Importantly, the outcome from these improvements will be lower costs for all electricity consumers – not just those who drive EVs.

The project also demonstrated how the relationship between utilities and consumers is a key to delivering the best outcomes for all. Consumers have indicated a willingness to defer their vehicle charging, including having it managed remotely, if provided with easy, convenient and financially-beneficial options. For a utility to control a potentially significant load on their network, consumer cooperation may be increased through the provision of real-time information via the Advanced Metering Infrastructure.

Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.