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Published:Tuesday, September 08, 2020 7:05 AM

Smart Charging Opportunities Post COVID-19 Pandemic

Smart Charging Opportunities Post COVID-19 Pandemic

E-mobility market in India is slowly coming out of its nascent stages and setting itself-up to be a catalyst to not just revolutionize Indian mobility but also both its energy and industrial ecosystems. The biggest challenge and opportunity during this change in mobility would be on managing and balancing the power demand from both EV’s and the distribution network (load from houses, industries, energy sources etc). The COVID-19 pandemic has posed different set of challenges and opportunities in electric mobility domain. New challenges for India’s electric mobility transition due to pandemic include liquidity and financing constraints, supply-chain shortages, shifting priorities in the public and private sectors, reduced workforce, and job losses.
 
Smart charging could be the potential game changer with its ability to provide an integrated solution to the future energy demands. The surge in demand of EVs across the countries will create surge in demand for power. This is more significant in the post-pandemic phase where the appetite for growth will be more than ever. How and when we manage this additional power demand and its effect on the grid could be critical in making e- mobility practical and accessible across demographics. Smart charging provides a potential solution with its ability to connect the EV, charging device and the operator (grid) to thecloud.
 
The integrated approach provides the operator an ability to incentivize off peak hours charging which enables the stability of the grid. It can also manage the charging efficiency like selecting suitable charging profiles based on the energy supply of the grid. For example, incentivizing late afternoon charging to support the additional solar energy source during the same time. Various research in the past years have shown how smart charging, with its ability to provide different configurations like Vehicle to Grid, Vehicle to Home or basically Vehicle to any source have supported in grid stability especially with integrated renewable energy source. This is because unlike the traditional way of energy/electricity production which was through coal. Some renewable energy sources are controlled by nature thus producing surges in the energy production during different times of theday.
 
Smart charging along with the EVs can act as buffers to these surges in the grid. Other than providing incentives to charge at different times of the day, it also helps in enabling localized energy production like wind and solar, which can be aggregated to the grid to support the local demands. This enables the EVs to act as battery sources buying energy from the grid during off peak hours and the EV supporting the energy needs at home during high peak demands. The versatility and independence of the smart charging system is what makes it practical solution in the long run. Even in remote areas where we might have EV tractors or trucks, this system not only provides energy savings for the end user. But its ability to be implemented in a localized manner and managed through the cloud provides the practical versatility in terms of financing theprojects.Severalresearcheshaveshownthattheincreaseinpeakload due to e-mobility can be reduced by 20-50% if integrated with smart charging when compared to stand alonecharging.
 
Artificial intelligence could enhance the optimization of smart charging both for efficient EV charging and also renewable energy management. As mentioned before, based on different peaks of for example solar energy and wind energy the rates for the customer can be decided. But also, the charging requirements of the vehicle can be efficiently mapped to grid status and energy mix in the grid which together supports real time balancing of energy grid. With the future predictions of more than a billion EVs on road, the ability of EVs to act as battery storage device (aggregated through smart charging) cannot be underestimated. Smart charging will help mitigate the bigger challenges of integrating solar and wind energy sources to the grid by using EVs as flexible energy storagedevices.
 
When we look at Indian perspective, the need to promote smart charging could be critical as we move towards the target of 175 GW of renewable energy with the major chunk of it coming from Wind and Solar. With right incentives for promoting e- mobility already in place in India, both of these could become a necessary tool to manage and promote e-mobility. Mentioned briefly above, smart charging could be a solution to manage India’s vast demographics and its varied energy sources across these demographics especially as we move towards renewable. With just basic incentive of “time of charge”, the smart charging will evolve into vehicle to grid and Vehicle to others solutions reaching almost real time balancing through use of AI and big data.
 
When looked at evolving battery options (swapping batteries) in e-mobility and growing availability of solar and wind energy. Smart charging can further incentivize these various options (affordable or second hand batteries) to be financially viable by allowing efficient matching of charging profiles depending energy mix in the grid during off peakhours.
 
Post-pandemic opportunities for the EV sectors such as government stimulus, freight optimization, increased use of EVs in delivery services and behavioural change caused by work-from-home would create more traction in smart charging. India could learn and make a leap in e-mobility similar to how smart phone adoption. With current smart grid projects being implemented in India, it will be an ideal environment to take it a step further in promoting smart charging projects towards long-term deployment. The learnings from the smart grid projects can act as a catalyst and more over this is the crux of all smart projects. The data collected over various days and seasons enable better prediction of energy production, availability and consumption - supporting development of more efficient energy system as awhole. The pandemic can be turned into a gamut of opportunities with right intent, policies and by creating an enabling environment.

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