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Electric Vehicle Charge Optimization Project Reduces Energy Demand and Cost



A new communication tool may change the way electric vehicle drivers charge their cars and help them save money.

The California Energy Commission supported the testing of the communication protocol with the goal to reduce peak energy demand. The Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment (EPIC) program, which supports energy innovation research, provided ChargePoint funding for the demonstration project.

“The goal is to match demand for electric vehicle charging to when there is available clean energy,” said Energy Commission Vice Chair Janea A. Scott. “This project examines how best to connect drivers to prime electric vehicle charging times.”

During certain times of the day, the demand for electricity spikes, so incentivizing people to charge their electric vehicles during lower demand or higher supply will help balance California’s grid. The communication protocol project enables advanced-charging capabilities that offer more flexibility for drivers and utility companies to manage the electric vehicle charging load.

The project gave 30 electric vehicle drivers the option to use personalized pricing depending on the time of day. San Diego Gas & Electric offered lower pricing during times when it was less costly to transmit the energy. Of the 1,000-recorded charging sessions, 58 percent of them were at the lower cost, producing an average annual savings of $467.

The project provided good results on how effective managing charging schedules can be, according to Matthew Fung, project leader and mechanical engineer in the Energy Commission’s Energy Research and Development Division.

“The benefits are, it simplifies the charging experience, making plug-in electric vehicle charging more user friendly, and saves money for the electric vehicle driver,” he said.

The communication protocol, which enables communication between electric vehicles and the charging equipment, is used in Europe and Asia and is expected to be widely integrated in the United States with many products arriving in 2020.

Fung said he hopes the new charging capabilities will motivate people to choose electric vehicles and reduce confusion about where and when to charge their vehicles.

“There was a big need for advance communication with charging stations,” he said. “The technology is there and available, and we’ll be ready for it when the market demands it.”

The Energy Commission’s EPIC program invests in innovation to help reduce energy costs and environmental impacts while ensuring a safe, resilient and reliable energy supply.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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