Electric vehicles are coming, there is no doubting that. With all bigger car companies pouring billions into developing new and innovative EV batteries and solutions, it is expected that by the end of the year 2025 about 20% of all cars sold across the world will be electric. All that is changing the way electricity systems are built and used, creating new and innovative solutions that any EV owner can be a part of. The only prerequisite? You must have a smart EV charger.
Fusebox’s Erik Tamsalu will take a closer look at what separates a smart charger from a “dumb” one and if this is the holy grail, we have been looking for to balance the rising energy demand.
You can’t teach a dumb dog new tricks
When owning an electric vehicle, you become dependent on chargers whether they are at home, at work, or by the side of the road. As an EV user, all you really expect from them is that your vehicle is topped up quickly, so the next time you start your engine you are looking at full batteries.
This is what all the chargers on the market do and do well – you connect your car to them, and they start charging. To most people, this is where the magic ends. But what if I told you that some of these chargers are actually dumb and will not evolve with new energy services on the market?
What makes an EV charger smart
A smart charger is a system that has an intelligent back-end solution that connects your car to the energy grid through the cloud. This gives you the possibility to always monitor and manage your plugged-in devices and gives you literally limitless means of how to charge your car in a more efficient way while helping to balance the energy demand in the grid overall. Whenever new energy solutions like flexible charging enter the market, you can be sure that your smart charger is up to the task. All it takes is to upgrade the software to run the new services.
A dumb charger on the other hand does not interact with the energy system, making it effectively a burden on the grid. For example, if you plug your EV in the charger during peak consumption hours a smart system would limit your charging to avoid both high prices and the small supply of electricity while a dumb charger will go all out at consuming energy. You can not add any new services or solutions to the dumb charger, making them go obsolete very quickly.
Make your EV charger future-proof
Energy systems around the world are currently evolving at a very rapid pace. This is due to the rise in carbon-neutral energy production such as solar and wind, approaching already 60% (including nuclear power) of the entire energy produced in the EU. While this is a very good number for the environment, then from the electricity systems point of view we need to find new solutions to use this energy.
The reason is that electricity production from renewable energy sources needs to be accompanied by batteries to make it efficient. If you take windmills for example, then during a windy day the electricity production will be very efficient but if at the same time there is negligible or no demand for this energy then all of it will go to waste. This is where energy storage comes into play to save all this energy for later use.
EVs carry a very important role in these future electricity grids, as they are essentially batteries on wheels, making it possible to balance the volatility coming from green energy in the system. Newer car models already offer vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability, meaning that you can use put electricity back into the grid during high-demand periods. Although a single car doesn’t account for much then by the year 2030, we will be looking at aggregated storage capacity in excess of 7TWh, which is the entire yearly consumption of Estonia for example.
The prerequisite here is that you use a smart EV charger that can process incoming balancing signals from the grid and either charges your car or pushes energy back into the system. This will not be subject to only EV chargers, but entire households will be able to participate in the energy systems as both producers and consumers of electricity.
Make money and save the environment with smart EV chargers
While there are a lot of ways to use a smart charger to your advantage then one of the less known ones is that you can make it earn actual money for you. This is done through the balancing energy and reserve power markets which are run by your local electricity transmission system operators.
The balancing market means that whenever the demand for electricity exceeds the supply then an automatic signal is sent out to all smart devices to temporarily limit their consumption. If you are an owner of a smart charger, then you can participate in demand response (although you must have a service provider like Fusebox for that) and your system operator will compensate you for it.
A single smart EV charger can save roughly 20% of costs on electricity per year by simply being able to participate in demand response. This holds additional benefits as each time you are taking part in demand response you are also saving on CO2 production. Here you are looking at saving over 500 kg of CO2 each year, meaning that in just 3 years, you will have saved the same weight of CO2 as is a Nissan Leaf.
Whether you want to make money from demand response, save the environment or simply use your electric vehicle batteries in clever ways, then smart chargers are the key. Be sure to not miss out on the future and if you need help in making your smart charger even smarter then let us know.