IBM Research has joined forces with EKZ, the electricity utility provider of the Canton of Zurich in Switzerland to implement a new pilot project that will allow consumers to conveniently charge electric vehicles and monitor their energy costs, using mobile devices. The web app will also help utility providers better manage power grid loads during peak charging times.
The app was designed and developed by IBM scientists in Zurich and a data recording device created by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). The device was installed in several electric vehicles, including a Renault Twingo to collect information on the vehicle’s battery charge level, location and the power source. The data is transmitted via a cellular network to an IBM cloud based on IBM BladeCenters running DB2 and WebSphere.
As Switzerland’s has a goal of increasing the proportion of electricity produced from renewable energy by 5,400 gigawatt hours (GWh), or 10 percent of the country’s present-day electricity consumption, by 2030, the IBM’s project might contribute to it. It’s known that approximately 55.6 percent of Switzerland’s overall electricity production comes from renewable sources, with hydropower by far the biggest contributor at more than 96 percent.
Most smartphones, tablets and web browsers support the IBM app. The app shows the vehicle’s battery level, range of travel distance, vehicle location, charge schedule and current energy costs in real time. In addition, the app can be programmed to start battery charging at a set point in time, for example when rates are lowest or when a trip is planned.
Another highlight of the app is that vehicle owners can 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.
IBM also announced it has joined a collaborative consortium to help develop an energy grid that uses at least 50 percent of renewable energy sources, says the press release. Wind power, solar energy and biogas usage possibilities will be studied under the leadership of a European Union-funded consortium.