Electric Vehicle Smart Energy Management

Global EV adoption continues to grow every year. With more passenger EVs on the roads, and more commercial fleets converting from diesel to electric, additional charging stations will be required to keep these electric vehicles running.

Bloomberg report rising passenger EV sales
Bloomberg report rising commercial fleet EV sales
However, charge point operators (CPOs) face many site challenges, including meeting increasing energy demand with limited grid infrastructure while reducing operating expenses and maximizing profits.

EV smart energy management software and systems can help CPOs overcome site issues and achieve business goals to ensure reliable, cost-effective, sustainable EV charging to help enable the electric transition.

What challenges do EV site owners face?

CPOs, from fueling stations to retailers, automotive dealers, and fleet operators, encounter many obstacles when running a resilient EV charging site that makes business sense. Here are some to consider.
  • Getting cars in and out: Fueling stations in some grid locations don’t have enough access to power to offer sufficient or fast charging. They are challenged with possibly overloading the local grid or making expensive and time-consuming infrastructure upgrades to increase capacity. CPOs must also balance charging quickly while keeping costs manageable for users.
  • High operational expenses: Grid energy prices can vary depending on market dynamics and the time it’s consumed. Electricity tends to cost more during times of peak power demand. Dealing with fluctuating electricity prices, especially during peak hours, can significantly impact operational costs. Charges for consuming energy during these times or exceeding your site’s grid limit can result in extra utility fees that can reduce profit margins. CPOs seek a means to shift energy usage to off-peak times when electricity is cheaper and grid demand is lower.
  • Maintaining uptime: When EV chargers need more power than the grid can provide, the breaker can trip, shutting down an EV charging site. This disrupts service, resulting in fines and annoyed customers. It’s a headache to wait for a technician to arrive and manually reset a system while the business sits idle.
  • Energy efficiency: CPOs must ensure that charging infrastructure operates with minimal losses and that energy throughout the site is used optimally to reduce waste.
  • Making informed planning decisions: CPOs need to scale their charging networks to meet growing power demand while managing energy consumption and ensuring grid stability. If site owners don’t understand their load profile (such as what devices use power, how much, and when) they may end up over or under-investing in infrastructure upgrades, battery storage, or renewable energy. Understanding when a site uses the most electricity is also critical for avoiding demand charges and high utility bills.
  • Meeting sustainability goals: Mitigating environmental impact is important to EV consumers and necessary to achieve corporate and government sustainability targets. Sourcing electricity from renewable energy can reduce the carbon footprint of a charging network, but this can be difficult for CPOs who struggle to integrate intermittent renewable energy sources and manage required battery solutions to ensure reliable power.
  • Synchronizing all site devices: Adding solar power and a battery energy storage system can offer benefits for EV charging sites, but investments can be wasted if these devices can’t communicate or work together optimally to meet site goals.
  • Generating more revenue: CPOs have the opportunity to increase the value of their onsite renewable energy, EV chargers, and energy storage system by participating in grid programs such as demand response in the U.S. and frequency response in Europe. For example, U.S. utilities offer demand response programs for grid load balancing by reducing or shifting energy consumption during peak periods. However, CPOs need a way to know when opportunities arise and bid into these programs while still maintaining everyday operations.
  • Monitoring and control: Site owners need the ability to monitor energy usage to detect inefficiencies and manage energy consumption more effectively. Following what’s happening onsite between all devices in real-time allows quickly finding and resolving problems, as well as adjusting charging rates based on grid conditions and energy prices.
  • Regulations and incentives: It can be difficult for CPOs to navigate complex and evolving energy regulations related to energy efficiency, renewable energy integration, and grid stability. Site owners need a means of maximizing benefits from available government incentives and rebates for renewable energy integration and energy efficiency.
If CPOs can overcome these issues, they can enhance the reliability and efficiency of their networks, reduce operational costs, and contribute to a more sustainable energy ecosystem.

What is EV smart energy management?

A smart energy management system can allow communication and control among site devices optimizing energy deployment and energy consumption. EV smart energy management systems consist of several components.

Sensors and meters

This onsite equipment collects data from all devices (including renewable energy sources, EV chargers, battery energy storage systems, and more) and the grid to track electricity consumption, grid status, and the state of charging stations.

Controller

A site controller facilitates continuous communication between all onsite assets and the grid for multiple use cases performed automatically. Leading controllers can take into account solar forecasting/production data and capture real-time site and grid energy use.

Cloud-based software

Just as residential IoT devices can integrate with household appliances for intelligent communication, smart EV energy management software sends onsite devices instructions based on intelligence gained from analyzing all site data to decide where to send power according to a customized business plan.
Sparkion's smart energy management system provides insight into EV site power usage
All of these hardware and software components work together in an EV energy management platform to provide optimized, automated control of all site assets.

Advantages of an EV smart energy management

Implementing smart energy management systems on EV sites provides a number of benefits for CPOs and fleet owners.
  • Cost efficiency: Reduce operational costs by optimizing energy use and taking advantage of off-peak electricity rates. Automatically optimize charging and discharging to ensure reliable, cost-effective operation of all site assets based on varying prices, renewable production, charging loads, and available grid capacity. Smart energy management detects available power in real time and puts it toward good use at charging ports so that nothing is wasted.
  • Increased profits and revenue: Smart energy management helps align business operations with grid conditions through peak shaving to ensure the battery charges before and deploys during a site’s peak demand times to reduce grid consumption and avoid extra utility costs for the highest profit margins. Management systems also allow bidding into utility programs automatically when opportunities arise to generate additional revenue while maintaining your everyday operations.
  • Future-proofing: Predicting future demand patterns can inform a site’s operational and capacity planning decisions. Smart energy management platforms can analyze a site’s energy use (from EV chargers, renewable assets, batteries, and more) for a comprehensive understanding of traffic patterns. This intelligence directs the controller to better prepare. Efficient, optimized energy usage and consumption can provide maximum available power with minimal operational energy costs.
  • Enhanced reliability: Improve the reliability of the charging network through real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance. Energy management systems use real-time, meter-fed site and grid data to determine when additional power is required and direct the battery to discharge.
  • Sustainability: Increase the use of renewable energy sources and reduce the carbon footprint of EV charging operations. Smart energy management software can communicate with onsite renewable energy and storage systems for maximum benefits. For example, charge batteries with solar power and find the best way to bring on renewables to add more value and achieve sustainability goals that align with those of customers.
Sparkion’s SparkCore smart energy management software system displaying renewable energy and storage data
  • Grid stability: Smart energy management helps maintain grid stability by managing demand and participating in demand response programs.
  • User convenience: Load management is critical for reliable, cost-effective operations to provide an ideal customer experience. Smart energy management can provide a seamless and efficient charging experience for EV users. For example, energy management systems can integrate with your energy storage to supplement grid power where capacity is limited. Battery usage delivers more energy and allows more customers to charge up quicker without making costly infrastructure upgrades. Intelligent solutions allow following a personalized algorithm for your business model. For example, prioritizie power boosts to the EV batteries of the first customer in line, or special VIP guests.
While there was a time when power simply traveled from the utility to the customer, today electricity flows bidirectionally. Sometimes EV charging stations consume grid power and others onsite solar production or electricity stored in batteries is sold back to utilities. Having smart EV management helps foster this dynamic electricity grid by allowing for flexibility, stability and efficiency.For example, Sparkion’s AI-driven smart energy management software directs its proprietary controller to facilitate seamless and continuous communication between all onsite assets and the grid for multiple use cases—performed automatically and simultaneously—resulting in maximum value and peace of mind for site owners. As we continue along the path of EV adoption, smart energy management systems like Sparkion’s will enable fleets, fueling stations, CPOs, and other businesses to be successful in the net-zero transportation future.

Want to learn more about the benefits of implementing smart energy management systems on your EV site?