Smart Recharge of Electric Vehicles

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As the concept of digital twin and artificial intelligence algorithms can be used to optimize the use of recharge infrastructure and boost electric mobility 

Electric mobility has become a global leader as a solution to combat climate change and global warming. However, the popularization of electric vehicles still depends, among other factors, on the creation of a recharging infrastructure that meets the needs of drivers and the electric system itself. Intelligent systems, based on modern technologies such as digital twin and artificial intelligence, can be used in this context to optimize the charging infrastructure and grid resources, thus helping to boost the adoption of electric vehicles. 

The growth of the electric vehicle market 

According to the Global EV Outlook 2018, an annual publication of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the number of new electric cars sold globally in 2017 exceeded the 1 million mark, a 54% increase over 2016. . 

This growth in recent years (especially in the USA, China and some European countries) is related to government incentives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, an international commitment by several countries at the UN contain the advance of global warming in 2016. 

In addition to combating climate change, electric mobility (which encompasses the electrification of vehicles and other means of transport) promises to bring other benefits such as improving the quality of life in large cities, reducing dependence on oil products, and perhaps which draws more attention to drivers, reducing fuel costs. According to results released by Emotive, a research project of CPFL Energia, the cost per kilometer of a combustion car is R $ 0.31, while that of an electric vehicle is R $ 0.11, that is, something around three times smaller. 

Despite the benefits there are challenges to be overcome to enable the popularization of electric vehicles, one of these challenges is the creation of a refueling infrastructure appropriate to the particularities of these vehicles. 

Recharging of electric vehicles 

Electric vehicles are equipped with electric motors powered by batteries that can be charged from the mains. The most common types are pure battery electric vehicles (which only have electric motors) and hybrid plug-in electric vehicles (which have both electric motors and conventional internal combustion engines). 

From the operational point of view, the recharging of an electric vehicle (be it pure or hybrid plugin) differs from conventional fuel supply in two respects: the time required to perform the operation and the environment in which recharging can be performed. 

The recharge time of an electric vehicle is considerably longer than the fuel supply time of a combustion vehicle. This time can vary appreciably depending on the power provided by the recharge point (electroposite). In slow recharge mode (which uses power up to 3.7KW) the recharge time can reach 8h. In slow recharge mode (which uses power up to 40KW) the recharge time can reach 80% in 20 or 30 minutes. 

The environment of recharging electric vehicles has a much greater diversity than that of fuel vehicles. Slow recharge points are typically installed in homes, malls, parking lots, businesses, and other public or private locations where recharge time is not a critical factor. Rapid recharge facilities are usually available on public infrastructure, such as highways, where waiting time is an important factor for drivers. 

The limitation of public recharge infrastructure, such as rapid recharge facilities on public roads (in urban environments or highways) is one of the main barriers to the popularization of electric vehicles. The creation of adequate public recharge infrastructure may take several years, particularly in countries with extensive road networks such as Brazil. Some roads in Brazil, such as the Presidente Dutra Highway and the Bandeirantes Highway, already have fast supply facilities, but with limited coverage. 

The high recharge time complicates this equation further: imagine that the driver needs to recharge his vehicle during a trip, in addition to knowing where a public vehicle is located, he needs to know if there will actually be a recharging point available upon arrival at the place. that waiting for the recharge of other vehicles can take a lot of time. 

From the electrical system point of view, electric vehicles represent a new load for the grid, with typical demand equivalent to an average consumer unit (something close to 240 KWh). However, in addition to planning the capacity of the electrical system to meet this new demand, the specific characteristics of that load (such as its mobility aspect) may impact the operation of the system. For example, the preference for residential recharge (whether due to cost or practicality) can generate overload at specific points in the electricity grid, particularly at peak hours where there is already high demand for the grid. 

Smart Recharge 

Intelligent recharge systems, based on modern technologies such as digital twin and artificial intelligence, can be used in this context to optimize the charging infrastructure and grid resources, thus helping to boost the adoption of electric vehicles. Smart Charging systems can be used in this context to optimize the use of public and private recharge infrastructure and minimize the impact of electric vehicles on the operation of the electrical system. 

Through the digital twin concept, Smart Charging systems create a digital representation in the cloud of the available electric vehicles and the available electric vehicles. Based on these representations, which rely on information obtained in real time, artificial intelligence algorithms are applied to create an optimum recharge strategy for each vehicle. 

Systems can take into account the specific characteristics of vehicles (such as the capacity and current level of their battery), drivers’ needs (such as their geographic location and recharge preferences) and available public and private recharging infrastructure such as proximity and price). Thus intelligent recharging systems are able to create customized recharge strategies and recommendations for each vehicle according to the available infrastructure resources. 

Smart Charging systems can also be integrated into the distribution grid, taking into consideration the electrical capacity of the network. In this recharge mode, systems can plan recharge sessions, controlling not only the allocation of vehicles to recharge points, but also the power that will be used dynamically during the charging session. The system can increase or reduce the charging power according to the instantaneous capacity of the network, thus avoiding peaks and overloads to the electrical system. 

In this more advanced mode, the system could also use the electric vehicles connected to the grid to store the excess energy from intermittent sources (such as solar and wind). The intelligent recharging system could prioritize the recharging of batteries during periods of excess power generation (for example in periods when there is a large generation of solar sources) and then use part of the stored charge to power the grid in periods of excess demand. 

This concept, known as V2G (Vehicle to Grid), has been studied as an alternative to increase the insertion of intermittent renewable energy sources, without compromising grid stability. From the point of view of the electric system operators, this integration with the grid can help to manage the supply and demand of energy, avoiding peaks and overloads of the grid. For consumers, differentiated rates can be applied to encourage them to authorize this mode of recharge. 

ANEEL R & D in Electrical Mobility 

With these trends in mind, ANEEL recently announced a Strategic R & D program on Efficient Electrical Mobility. The program aims to encourage the development of solutions for electric mobility, promoting innovations related to “business models, equipment, technologies, services, systems or infrastructures to support the development or operation of electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid vehicles.” 

Venturus, the Institute of Private Science and Technology of the city of Campinas, is developing the concept of an intelligent system for recharging electric vehicles. The solution will use state-of-the-art technologies already applied by the institute in other sectors to enable new business models for the electric power sector and boost the electric vehicle market. 

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