Smart EV charging points for the home? A smart idea
Narec's CTO, Steve MacDonald, speaking at Utility Week's electric vehicle (EV) conference last week, said that energy suppliers should offer consumers home charging points with smart functionality and a specific tariff for EV owners to help support the take up of EVs.
With most EV owners charging their vehicles at home, speakers at the conference noted that EV rollouts might take off without a national network of charging stations. It was also suggested the EV hardware packages that could be offered by utility companies could be a catalyst to driving further energy efficiency around EVs, incentivising users to charge their vehicles out of peak hours.
These sorts of hardware packages and smart capabilities are exactly what utility companies should be offering to customers who own EVs. It's a smart move for customer relations too, giving consumers visibility of how much electricity they are using to charge their vehicles, enabling them to understand what a charge costs in the same way they would know the cost of regular fuel.
The smart functionality is also important for the utilities, as the data that is fed back to them from the EV charging point can be invaluable in terms of managing electricity load.
But this sort of management provides only a glimpse of the capabilities that can be enabled by the full smart grid, and they shouldn't just be limited to EV charging points. Smart meters will perform a similar function for the home and small businesses, but without energy disaggregation technology, they are limited to providing overall usage data.
In fact, energy management technology can be applied in numerous scenarios, from measuring the energy usage of individual pieces of equipment right across a production line, to analysing the air conditioning and heating of an office building, or the energy consumption of fridges, warehouses and lighting across a retail environment.
EV energy management systems and smart meters will be just the first stage in showing the true power of energy management. In future, we could well see every electrical appliance, from the home to commercial equipment, to vehicles, connected to an energy management system, feeding data back to the smart grid and easily viewed by users and utilities to manage demand, reduce consumption and minimise emissions.Nick Wellington