IBM Research has teamed with EKZ, the electricity utility provider from Zurich, on a new pilot project that will allow consumers to charge electric vehicles (EVs) and monitor their energy costs using mobile devices.
The IBM app runs on most smartphones, tablets and Web browsers, and provides an integration point between the vehicle, the utility provider and the driver. Using a simple four-button interface the app shows the vehicle’s battery level, range of travel distance, vehicle location, charge schedule and current energy costs in real time. EV owners can quickly consult their mobile device to check whether their car’s battery level is sufficient for its next use. Another advantage of the app is that it can be programmed to start battery charging at a future point in time – when rates are lowest or when a trip is planned, for example. The app also allows vehicle owners to delegate the responsibility of recharging the battery to the utility provider, which can schedule charges based on the availability of renewable resources, such as sun and wind, allowing the utility to improve load balancing and prevent outages
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.
“This service will make electric vehicles more attractive to consumers by taking into consideration their preferences, while still factoring in cost and overall convenience,” explains Dieter Gantenbein, leader of the Smart Grid research project at IBM Research–Zurich. “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.”