Electric vehicles, or EVs, offer a compelling option for environmentally sustainable travel and transportation and they are fast becoming a regular part of daily life worldwide. Car manufacturers recognise the promise electric vehicles offer in reducing air pollution and global warming and have unveiled exciting new models scheduled to be on the road by 2012.
The challenge is that e-mobility requires a totally new and smart infrastructure for EV refueling and service.
And to be truly effective at reducing CO2 emission and the related greenhouse effect, electric vehicles will need to be charged at “green-powered” and convenient charging stations. Current battery technology requires frequent and time consuming refueling, with each charging session lasting up to several hours. Electric vehicles will only be accepted and adopted by drivers if the daily impact on day-to-day living is positive and if the technology is economical and convenient.
Wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) technology is a crucial enabling technology to support this new, largely unmanned and widely distributed EV charging infrastructure. M2M offers an easy and flexible way to connect a single station at home or a cluster of stations in a parking lot or at a mall with the operator’s control and billing center.
M2M communication helps charging infrastructure providers by enabling remotely managed tasks such as user or vehicle authentication, payment procedures, usage data communications and remote equipment monitoring and management. It can even detect abnormal behaviors and send alarms or discontinue service in the case of fault.
M2M enabled charging stations are equally beneficial for drivers who can use the technology to quickly locate the nearest available charging station in a city, view charging status via a smart phone app or receive SMS notification when a vehicle’s battery reaches a specific level.
In addition, M2M technology easily integrates all charging stations within a smart power grid. In a smart power grid, all power generators such as solar plants, windmills and other green and traditional power sources, and all power consumers can automatically exchange consumption and generation data. When all end points are connected with two-way communications, the entire grid can be controlled more efficiently and specific power consumers can be temporarily switched off or slowed down to accommodate the more immediate needs of other consumers.
EVs are ideal flexible energy consumers designed to operate seamlessly in a smart grid and EV charging stations are the network elements controlling the charging process. For instance, if a vehicle is parked and connected for several hours at a charging station, the system could slow down or intermittently stop the charging process to accommodate consumers with more immediate need.
This flexibility is a huge benefit to electric utility companies who would no longer be forced to generate costly additional electricity to meet peak demand. Instead, utilities could shift the load by switching off power that is not time critical. Thus the e-mobility goal to achieve is ‘park-plug-charge’ in the most user friendly and environment friendly way. And, thanks to wireless machine-to-machine the communication part of this future is already solved.