The local grid comes under pressure

The rise of electric vehicles is leading to the increasing need for EV charging infrastructure, at business premises as much as other locations. Unfortunately, intensive use of charging stations carries some risk, particularly for example where as many as 15 stations on one site could be in constant use during the day to charge vehicles.

The main risk is a dramatic increase in peak demand, which could lead to a local grid outage. This could mean that businesses might be obliged to reinforce grid infrastructure and its connection to the transmission grid, which can be a very costly affair.

SMATCH: orchestrating EV charging within the local grid

That’s why ENGIE Laborelec developed SMATCH, an intelligent system which carefully and seamlessly orchestrates EV charging within a local grid for the benefit of both the user and the grid operator.

What does it do exactly? SMATCH optimizes EV charging by using local power supply and demand data. It collects real-time and forecast energy demand information from the various power consumers at the site and assesses the charge levels EV users request, mapping these data over the hours available.

SMATCH then uses this information to optimize the power distribution across the different EV charging stations, taking full account of site priorities, local power production and the limitations of the local grid.

How does it balance user needs? A user could, for example, request a level of charge sufficient to assure a particular range capability by the time they plan to leave the location. Requests are submitted through a user-friendly smartphone app. The system can then schedule its charging sequences accordingly, coordinating with all the other requests as well as fluctuations in site power demand and grid limitations.

The system can be configured to take multiple parameters into account, including peak shaving constraints, maximizing auto-consumption of locally produced power, and phase balancing, among others. Smart algorithms ensure that user charging needs are satisfied and discourage abuse.

What are the benefits? With SMATCH, businesses extending their EV fleet can limit the costs related to grid infrastructure investment, capacity reinforcement, and energy consumption. Auto-consumption of locally produced power can be stepped up. And users are reassured their cars will be appropriately charged by the time they need them.

How is it implemented? SMATCH is a set of hardware and software plugged into the local grid and connected to the EV charging infrastructure through the Mobility Service Provider (MSP) or Charge Point Operator (CPO) platforms. Site data and user requests are collected in the SMATCH measurement box along with charging point data.

SMATCH has already been successfully implemented at several large and mid-sized sites with up to 300 charging points. Implementation follows our comprehensive approach to converting local power grids into smart microgrids.

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