Brian Grunkemeyer, Founder &CEO
The world seems to be converging at electric vehicles (EVs), which is seen as the panacea to global greenhouse gas emissions. On the flip side, the sudden spike in the number of EVs has put a huge burden on grid systems. To alleviate the challenges and maintain a continuous energy flow, governments are getting to grips with the new and emerging concept termed managed charging, which promises to tackle the electric infrastructure inadequacies. With EV chargers on their way to outnumber gas stations in developed countries, managed charging allows harnessing of the chargers for the benefit of the grid and consumers. That said, technology gaps in the current EV ecosystem hamper the effectiveness of managed charging. Redmond, WA-based FlexCharging has come up with an antidote to the EV predicaments. FlexCharging’s intelligent charging application seamlessly manages EV charging needs, including load shifting and smart charging capabilities to lessen the pressure on grids. FlexCharging provides electric utilities and car owners with tools to shift EV charging to off-peak hours while catering to drivers’ needs.
FlexCharging’s app helps electric car owners save money and reduce carbon emissions by charging at the right times of day. The right time is identified by analyzing the charging data and deducing patterns from the time of charge perspective. The app strikes the right chord with both drivers and utilities through its preparedness in the face of a sudden disaster. For instance, if a utility reports a power shortage, FlexCharging can shift charging to the best time available while still ensuring there’s enough energy in the car’s battery to accomplish daily tasks.
“Our app aggregates data from EVs located in offices and residences and manages charging schedules for time-of-use rates, peak demand, and ramp rates,” says Brian Grunkemeyer, CEO of FlexCharging.
FlexCharging proves valuable in saving cost for drivers. If a utility charges based on time-of-use rates, the firm handles the complexity for the driver to save drivers money. On the other hand, it also helps the utilities better integrate renewable energy, conduct energy price arbitrage, and reduce their carbon emissions while engaging with drivers in an intuitive way.
Companies approaching smart charging from a hardware perspective often find several roadblocks along the journey. As some EVs can plug into a NEMA 14-50 adapter for charging with their mobile charging connectors, utilities resort to installing often-redundant networked EV chargers at owners’ homes, which is capital inefficient. FlexCharging’s app moves away from this traditional approach by connecting to a car’s APIs created by the automakers for their mobile apps. The app uses API’s as the control pathway to the car which is protected by the automaker’s security architecture. It can also get dynamic signals from utilities and carbon emissions forecast from utilities or a trusted third party like WattTime.
Our app aggregates data from EVs located in offices and residences and manages charging schedules for time-of-use rates, peak demand, and ramp rates
In a case study, one electric utility provider near San Francisco faced an unforeseen challenge when they evaluated EV charging in their service territory. Without the means to measure EV charging, it decided to engage FlexCharging to address the situation. FlexCharging assessed the client’s infrastructure and found a surprising amount of Level 1 charging in their service territory. It enabled the client to shift the load as much as possible to meet the utility goals. The firm provided more critical insights into program design and helped the client develop the same. In the coming days, the client is expected to roll out a program to all their drivers, which will help meeting residential and workplace charging needs without installing custom hardware in the car or replacing a charger.
Marching ahead, FlexCharging is looking forward to enabling carbon-optimized charging in 2021, extending its value from just saving money to saving the environment as well. “We are also collecting data in Australia right now as part of a pilot project with a utility funded by Australian Renewable Energy Agency and we plan to branch out to Canada and Europe,” ends Grunkemeyer.