IBM partners EKZ to launch "convenient" EV charging smartphone app
This near real-time information will also help utility providers better manage power grid loads during peak charging times – a challenge that is set to grow as more electric vehicles are on the road.
The pilot combines a Web-based application (app) designed and developed by IBM scientists in Zurich and a data recording device created by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). The device, roughly the size of a phonebook, was installed in several electric vehicles, including a Renault Twingo, to collect information on the vehicle's battery charge level, location and the power source.
The device transmits the data via a cellular network to an IBM cloud based on IBM BladeCenters running DB2 and WebSphere. This monitoring capability not only benefits the user but also provides utility providers with further insight into energy generation and consumption.
The project has the potential to contribute to Switzerland's energy policy goal of increasing the proportion of electricity produced from renewable energy by 5,400 gigawatt hours (GWh), or 10% of the country's present-day electricity consumption, by 2030. According to the latest statistics available, approximately 55.6% of Switzerland's overall electricity production comes from renewable sources, with hydropower by far the biggest contributor at more than 96%.
Peter Franken, head of the Energy Distribution department of EKZ, predicts: ‘Electric vehicles can be used to buffer the irregular production of electricity from future renewable sources, which will contribute to the overall stability of the electrical network. With this project we can show how electric vehicles can create a balance between supply and demand for smarter energy grids.’
Dieter Gantenbein, leader of the Smart Grid research project at IBM Research – Zurich, said: ‘This service will make electric vehicles more attractive to consumers by taking into consideration their preferences, while still factoring in cost and overall convenience. In this pilot, the real-time analysis of supply and demand together with a control algorithm will create a dynamic incentive for a sustainable way to charge an electric vehicle's battery, putting us another step closer to establishing a cleaner transport system.’