IOT analytics to drive ev charging station infrastructure growth

VIJAY VASUDEVAN
Monday, December 7, 2015

We live in anxious times. People are anxious about moving their careers forward, spending enough time with their families, maintaining a healthy diet and more. Happily, the arrival of viable electric cars has alleviated one anxiety we share – namely, polluting the environment with car emissions.

But, the limited range of electric cars has created a new concern – range anxiety. Think about driving 50 miles to an appointment in an electric car with a 100 maximum range. Maximum translates to no traffic and ideal driving conditions. But what if you have the AC on during that 100 degree day and there’s lots of traffic; that 100 mile range shrinks to perilously close that 50 miles you need to drive. And what if you arrive at your appointment to find the three charging stations there are already hooked up to other cars.

Save for a very few geographic areas, an infrastructure of EV charging stations does not yet exist, which makes electric car owners susceptible to range anxiety. One would think that charging stations would spring up at every roadside gas station or convenience store. All it takes is standard AC electricity and a converter for merchants to offer charging. Right?

Well, not so fast. Many electric car drivers subscribe to charging services that invoice them monthly for the right to charge at hundreds or thousands of stations. In most locations, electric rates rise after reaching specific usage thresholds, the charging networks should either raise rates when consumption surpasses a given threshold, or reduce power to the vehicles to keep electric usage under the threshold.

 

Here’s where IoT analytics comes in. At a base level, IoT can ensure a driver plugging in is a member of that charging network. It can also inform the driver whether there are charging stations are free. At a more sophisticated level, IoT analytics can regulate the flow of electricity and/or rates subscribers are charged based on prevailing electric rates. IoT analytics can also information charging network managers when stations require maintenance as well as predict future maintenance needs. When a subscriber plugs in, IoT analytics can let him/her know when the car will next need maintenance, as well as predict notify the owner of potential problems down the road.

It is clear that electric cars are here to stay. It’s a matter of time before the range increases and savvy entrepreneurs build an infrastructure of charging stations. Critical to the long-term success of these networks will be IoT analytics, which will be able to do everything from indicating locations most likely to receive the greatest traffic, to assist with charging system and electric car maintenance.

We’d be remiss not to mention – GRIDSCAPE (an evolutionary player in the SmartGrid space) is using Glassbeam’s Analytics for many of the use cases articulated here. We held a Webinar with them a few months ago – you can access the recording HERE.