A new smart app could help cut the cost of charging electric vehicles and balance the grid.
The big challenge with renewable energies is their intermittency. As their share of the grid advances, the energy cost will vary enormously with how sunny or windy it is.
At times, energy might be almost free, on other occasions very expensive. As electric vehicles become more popular, electricity demand will increase, compounding this conundrum—Enter AI into the story. By using smart use of tech, pushing demand so that it matches points of optimal supply, this problem can be partially overcome.
The result could be electric vehicles (EVs) that could be charged up almost for free and a more balanced grid that can manage the fluctuating generation of energy from renewables more easily.
One company looking at this technology is called Ohme. It has developed an app that enables smart charging.
Products that can provide these types of solutions have two core benefits. Firstly, smart apps support the driver. If the motorist is on a time-of-use tariff, they will know when it is an optimal time to charge up the vehicle, or more likely; smart technology will decide for them while the EV sits in their garage.
The Ohme app is initially targeted at Tesla users in the UK. The company says: “Combining the Ohme app with a time-of-use tariff brings the cost of driving 10,000 miles down to just £160-£210 - an annual saving of £275-£350 compared with dumb charging, and £1,300 compared to a petrol-powered vehicle traveling 36 miles per gallon.”
The other benefit relates to the grid. There are two elements to this. As EVs become more popular, electricity demand will rise enormously, putting pressure on the grid to meet demand. By providing smart technology so that motorists can take advantage of periods when conditions are optimal for charging, not only will it save them money, it will mean demand for energy from the grid is likely to be greater at times of plentiful supply.
The second element ties in with the idea of vehicle to grid technology — a concept pioneered partly by Nissan. With vehicle to grid, the battery in its EVs can be used to support the grid.
By combining smart technology so that EVs are charged during times of optimal supply, the lithium-ion batteries in the EV fleet can then be used to provide cost-effective back-up to the grid, making money for the EV owner as a side effect.
Ohme said: “As well as lowering the barriers to EV adoption, the app offers invaluable insights into EV charging patterns and usage. This is crucial for energy companies seeking to understand EV owner's behaviour better, enabling them to manage demand more intelligently and protect the National Grid as the UK moves to a low carbon economy.”
David Watson, CEO of Ohme, said: “The Ohme app demonstrates how a single, smart solution can meet both challenges head-on. By taking advantage of time-of-use tariffs, we can help drivers make significant savings on the cost of charging their vehicles. This also benefits energy operators by spreading demand more intelligently, and providing crucial insights to help them future proof the grid.”
It seems likely that technologies such as this will be ramped-up worldwide as EVs grab an ever-greater share of the market.