15-09-2022 | | By Robin Mitchell
Recently, Schneider Electrics demonstrated their latest EV charging solution that utilises Matter to create an intelligent charger able to adjust charging rates based on tariffs. What challenges do smart technologies currently face, what does the charger do, and how will real-time pricing help customers reduce energy bills?
Despite the numerous advantages made with IoT related technologies, the mass deployment of cloud services, and the ever falling cost of electronics, smart homes still don’t exist. Sure, devices such as the Amazon Echo exist that allow for people to control the odd light bulb here and there, but in general, genuine smart solutions that combine numerous devices in a home with an intelligent AI simply don’t exist.
To make matters worse, current solutions have limited capabilities in improving efficiency. For example, energy companies charge electricity based on a set rate that at most changes two times a day (one for day and one for night), while modern smart meters may charge more based on peak detection. However, energy prices fluctuate widely on an hourly basis, and the cost of running the grid is tied to the current demand, and this is something that consumers cannot take full advantage of.
For example, if grid demand falls to a low during the afternoon, this will see energy suppliers reduce the amount of power they produce, and this can see increased inefficiencies on their part. As such, energy companies would much rather produce the exact same amount of power at all times. If real-time energy demand and pricing could be offered to consumers, smart systems in a home could identify the best time to consume energy.
Such a system would not only provide cost benefits to the consumer but also help stabilise power grids. Taken further, future EVs plugged into the mains could be used as grid batteries whereby network operators pay homeowners to offer EVs as an energy storage solution.
Recently, Schneider Electric announced the launch of its latest EV charger, the Evlink Home Smart Charger, that is able to connect to home networks and use the Matter protocol for communication. The smart charge is able to connect to Home Energy, a system designed to allow consumers to control all electric devices and monitor power consumption via a single application.
Using Home Energy, the smart charger can decide the best time to charge a connected EV by looking at real-time tariffs and current energy usage of the home. By intelligently charging a connected EV, peak power consumption can be reduced, reducing the overall cost of electric bills (remember that energy companies will often charge consumers based on the tariff rate at the time of their peak consumption). Unlike small electric appliances, EVs can easily increase the energy load of a house by 40% which not only puts stress on electrical infrastructure but easily pushes homes into peak energy tariffs.
The charging modes offered by the new EV system also include Charge Now, Green Charging, Cost Effective, and Customised Schedule which all provide the users with the maximum amount of flexibility.
Arguably one of the biggest issues facings consumers today is the inability to have access to real-time market prices. When energy prices fall over short periods, those involved with markets get to take advantage, while consumers continue to pay some set rate determined by energy companies. Should the cost of gas rise, bills will also be quick to rise, but falls in price certainly take longer to reach customers. Additionally, real-time rates can empower smart homes with useful functions that can have a significant difference on energy bills.
Having real-time tariffs not only makes it fairer for those who consume energy, it also allows for network operators to make better use of surplus energy such as those generated by solar and wind. Since these energy sources are somewhat unpredictable, trying to account for these sources can lead to large amounts of over-production which is both wasteful and costly.
Overall, having real-time energy tariffs can help even out energy consumption throughout the day, and this in turn will lead to more stable sources of energy, lower rates, and better long-term planning.