One of the largest electric vehicle collaborations is taking place within the industry to develop, collaborate and expand electric charging infrastructure. Eight global automakers, including BMW, Honda and GM and 15 electric utilities are working with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to develop and implement a standardized Smart Grid integration platform.

The plug-in electric vehicle market has grown to more than 225,000 vehicles in the US alone with worldwide sales topping up the total which is on the continual rise. Dan Bowermaster, EPRI manager of Electric Transportation, said:

“As electric vehicles become more prevalent in the marketplace, it will present some unique challenges and opportunities for utilities who manage the flow of the electric grid. The focus of this collaboration is to create a standard program that will allow utilities to work with different types of plug-in vehicles to more efficiently manage their demand on the grid.”

For the first phase of the program, EPRI and the participating companies will work to develop a standardized Demand Response solution. Demand Response is the signal a utility sends to an energy management company communicating the supply and demand needs to the electric grid. That company then communicates with designated plug-in vehicles in the area to manage their energy consumption in accordance with the grid’s needs.

The goal of this program is to develop a cloud-based, central server that would receive grid requests from a utility – like Demand Response – and then translate and standardise that request so it could be relayed to all appropriate plug-in vehicles in the designated area. Automakers would be expected to develop and deploy technologies compatible with these smart grid communications. Cliff Fietzek, Manager BMW Connected eMobility Group, said:

“This collaboration will make it easier for electric vehicle drivers to save money by enabling the utility to schedule charging for times during the day when demand for electricity is relatively low. In addition to this collaboration, BMW is developing technology that will allow our customers to easily control when and how their cars charge, and also to seamlessly integrate with home solar power generation and energy management systems.”

What all this means is that finally electric vehicle owners may finally receive a more formulated infrastructure between the varying methods currently employed. It is generally regarded that infrastructure concerns rank as some of the most important in making EVs appeal to a broader market, and this new incentive goes some-way toward achieving that. As for how this will affect the UK market, time will tell but the mere fact that all companies involved have global interest and EV sales, it is likely that, if successful, the technology would be taken worldwide.

The global automakers participating in this program are: Honda, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi and Toyota. The utilities involved are DTE Energy, Duke Energy, PJM Interconnection LLC, CenterPoint Energy, Inc., Southern Company, Northeast Utilities, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric, Commonwealth Edison, TVA, Manitoba Hydro, Austin Energy, ConEd and CPS Energy.

Source; EPRI, GM, BMW

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