In the best of all possible worlds, electric car drivers would prefer to recharge their cars using 100% renewable energy. In addition, they would like to not pay the highest possible price for those electrons. Honda, in conjunction with eMotorWerks and Southern California Edison, has just announced a new app-based service that will give EV drivers what they want and reward them for plugging in at the optimal time for the drivers and the utility company.
Known as the SmartCharge program, it will use pricing signals collected by eMotorWerks’ JuiceNet system to calculate when the most renewable energy is available at the lowest cost. The app will then send participants an electronic notice telling them its time to connect their vehicles to their chargers. The program applies only to Honda Fit EV drivers who are SCE customers and use a JuiceNet charger. Depending on how successful the program is, Honda may expand the program to include Clarity drivers in the future.
Drivers get $50 from Honda to join the program, then $50 every two months as a reward if they actually follow the charging schedule suggested by the proprietary algorithm used by the JuiceNet system.
Most people assume the best time to charge their EV is overnight when electricity rates are lowest, but as states like California get more of their renewable energy from solar panels, they are finding they sometimes have too much solar energy available during daylight hours and have to give it away to other utilities or even pay someone to take it off their hands. If utilities can encourage customers to help put that excess power to good use, it makes economic sense to do so.
The automaker’s SmartCharge beta program gets instant info from the grid through cloud-to-cloud communications, so it can notify people via the HondaLink EV app to start charging when electricity demand is low and when renewable energy availability is high, according to a report by Endgadget.
Drivers will be able to use the app to program in their desired charging time. The system will then be able to take that information into account to compute the best time to charge based on the daily schedule they specify in the app, the amount of renewable energy available, and the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by power plants that are currently supplying electricity to the grid.
American Honda vice president Steve Center tells Utility Dive the program will “shift electric vehicle charging in real-time without impacting the customer.” As the number of electric cars on the road increases in coming years, utility companies will be looking for ways to manage the demand for charging those cars in a way that minimizes the cost of infrastructure upgrades. Programs like the Honda SmartCharge initiative will help accomplish that goal.