Greenlots, an open standard charging network operator, has big plans to bring together public EV charging stations and battery storage with the power of its network and cloud technologies in order to level up EV charging infrastructure in Southeast Asia and North America. Greenlots was originally founded in Singapore in 2008 and has since scaled up into a global EV charging network operator, with operations in 13 countries and offices in North America.
I spoke with Greenlots CEO Brett Hauser to understand the company’s recent push into the Thai EV charging market in partnership with BMW’s ChargeNow program. The 50 new Level 2 public EV charging stations are being installed largely from funding coming from the Thai government as well as from the BMW ChargeNow program.
Hauser shared that Greenlots has been a BMW ChargeNow partner in Singapore since 2013 and is looking to expand beyond its current operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand into new countries in parallel to establishing relationships with new partners. China is the obvious market to move into in Asia, but Brett shared that the company has nothing in the works in China at this time. Perhaps that is due to the closed nature of the Chinese business world or the rabid competition in the market.
Getting back to the marriage of EV charging stations and battery storage, Greenlots is acutely aware of the pains demand charges can put on EV charging station owners. As such, it is working to intelligently add storage into the mix. What’s unique about its approach is that it is hardware agnostic on both the charging station side as well as the storage side. Said another way, Greenlots can bring together just about any EV charger with just about any battery storage into a single solution that will optimize the benefits of both.
It is a tall order, as all EV chargers and all battery storage systems have different capabilities, not to mention communication protocols. Greenlots rolls the two together into a system that seeks to optimize the needs of the EV driver (to get in, get charged, and get out), the site owner (to keep costs down and hopefully earn a profit), and the electrical utility (where peaks in demand cause expensive peaker plants to be brought online).
Bringing these parties together requires more than just an intelligent charger and a network connection. Brett shared that Greenlots believes this requires open protocols that enable charging station operators to talk back and forth with customers and utilities to negotiate the best mix for all parties, in real time. It is pursuing its vision for open standard communication through the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). OCPP dictates a format (protocol) for non-proprietary (open) communication to and from EV charging stations which applies to both customer- and utility-level communication.
To maximize the potential benefits of this communication, Greenlots has aligned its business to help utilities access charging data and has developed best-in-class grid flexibility. This is where the addition of battery storage to a charging station gets interesting. Adding storage to the equation allows Greenlots to offer a station operator the ability to pull from that storage in the event that the charger would incur demand charges — thus saving money and making charging more affordable. As with residential energy storage, it won’t payout everywhere, especially considering the geographical diversity of the Greenlots chargers, but it will in many markets and is a great tool in the solution toolbox to make chargers economically viable when they might not be otherwise.
Brett closed our time with a missional statement that really brought everything together in a succinct statement.
“Whether you’re concerned about climate change or you’re concerned with energy independence and job growth, EVs are good. We are excited for the future.”
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