Siemens just announced yesterday that it has been awarded a $1.6-million research grant from the Department of Energy (DoE) to research ways of cutting the cost of electrical vehicle (EV) chargers and “developing ‘smart’ charging capabilities that support power grid efficiency and consumer demand.” In addition to the DoE funding, matching funding of nearly $750,000 will also go into this research.
Siemens isn’t the only big name in this research, though, and the collaborative focus of the work is an important aspect the DoE wanted to support. Here’s more from Siemens:
The research funding is intended to provide manufacturers a financial incentive to set aside ‘winner-take-all’ competitive imperatives and set a clearer path to align commercial EV charging technology development that supports integration with the power grid and ultimately provides substantial benefits to consumers. Collaborating with Siemens in the overall development effort are Duke Energy and Ford Motor Company who will focus its efforts on validating concepts intended for their respective industries and markets.
The research is also intended to help utilities manage the transition to a national EV charging infrastructure and the growing demand it would place on the grid and generation capacity. In addition to validating concepts, Duke Energy will provide input and help guide communications development. This will ultimately provide ways for utilities to manage increasing demand without having to add costly generation and distribution capacity that would be passed on to consumers and increase carbon emissions.
Ford and Siemens have a long history of shared EV development, Siemens technology being present in their early hybrid and all-electric designs. Car manufacturers have made a huge investment in EVs, but the market can’t reward this investment unless deployment expands. Deployment can’t expand unless demand grows by consumers.
According to the DoE, the intent of the research grants is to improve the functionality and affordability of electric vehicle chargers. In addition to supporting energy security, said U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu, “Developing smart electric vehicle chargers will provide more options to consumers and accelerate the build-out of the charging infrastructure in ways that strengthen the grid.”
“The government’s investment will expedite collaboration,” said Barry Contrael, director of Low Voltage Electronics for Siemens Infrastructure and Cities. “If any company were to endeavor to go it alone, they would have to create and let the market accept or reject solutions for all the possible combinations of EV chargers, utility communication protocols and networks that exist. The resources required to take on this task would be prohibitive, even with companies like Siemens that have the necessary scaling and infrastructure. By teaming up, the companies chosen by the DoE will be able to develop standardized solutions faster and at a greatly reduced overall cost.”
Siemens EV charger images via Siemens