Clean electricity advocate Smart Electric Power Alliance recently published a report on the state of managed electric vehicle charging in 2021. It details the market’s major developments and recommends actions to help design, implement, and adapt utility-managed charging programs.
Managed charging — also called V1G, or intelligent or smart charging — refers to tools that enable remote managing of electric vehicle charging, including speeding up or slowing down charge times or suspending charging altogether. This allows owners to take advantage of price signals such as time-of-use rates and demand response by avoiding charging when electricity is expensive. Instead, they may wait for off-peak hours to utilize electricity when it is cheaper.
Managed charging programs are trending upward: As of 2021, SEPA identified 71 active utility managed charging programs compared to 26 programs in 2019. Additionally, SEPA reported continued vendor growth in networked Level 2 and DC fast chargers, increased interoperability due to growing adoption of charging networks, and the emergence of Charging-as-a-Service business models. Vehicle-to-Grid technology, which allows surplus electricity in EV batteries to be sent back to the electric grid to supplement supply, is also on the rise, with 25% of surveyed utilities currently piloting or planning programs.
Drawing from utility trends, interviews, a review of the vendor landscape, and seven case studies, SEPA offers the following recommendations:
- Plan for programs to evolve to meet system needs and be feasible at scale. For the surveyed utilities, programs were designed for an average 10,000 EVs.
- Structure programs such that the default behavior benefits both the customer and the grid.
- When possible, implement managed charging programs to allow participation via OEM telematics and networked chargers.
- Include customer education in the marketing and recruitment phases of the project, and provide technical education after enrollment.
- Leverage dealerships, in-app messaging, and traditional marketing to educate and inform customers who are not currently EV owners.
The report highlights existing successes, including programs that achieved reliable demand-side management through more than 80% customer retention, customer energy-bill savings of $200 per year, and utilization of 70% lower-carbon electricity to charge.Managed charging’s upward momentum exists in tandem with a push to increase public funding for EV-charging stations: Biden’s recently passed infrastructure bill earmarks $7.5 billion for the stations. On a smaller scale, the California Energy Commission awarded the city of Los Angeles $6 million to install one of the largest EV fleet charging systems in the US, powered by a solar and storage microgrid.