There’s a familiar argument about electric vehicles and it has a lot to do with the source of the electricity that’s used to charge them. Those in the dwindling minority that still stand opposed to the EV revolution on the grounds that some charging still comes from coal-fired plants have fewer and fewer arguments to make. Natural gas has long displaced coal as the primary generation source for power plants. Though some part of the American southeast and Midwest are still serviced by plants that are more coal dependent. But that too is steadily changing. Not all coal-fired plants can be shutdown overnight even if the current administration is trying desperately to prop them up but there are better solutions. On the path to generation that comes from more renewable sources including wind, sun and hydropower, utilities and technology vendors are teaming up on demand side management to regulate how and when customers charge their EVs and PHEVs.
Honda of America has launched a Beta program for select Fit EV customers that that notifies people to start charging when electricity demand is low and when https://www.engadget.com/2018/07/31/honda-smartcharge-ev-program-beta/?yptr=yahoorenewable energy availability is high through the HondaLink EV app). The app gets information on the source and timing of power through cloud-to-cloud communications. The program looks at owners holistically by taking both grid conditions into account and the schedule of the customer doing the charging. The take rate on the Smart Charge Beta Program will be studied before it is rolled out to other customers and other vehicles including the new Honda Clarity. Customers will also receive rewards as part of the program if they sign up for five charging session that are specified by the app.
Some critical questions about the program of course are how the accuracy of the data that the smart Charge Beta program pulls in and if participating utilities have to make any system changes or upgrades to send their data in. It also remains to be seen if other utilities have compatible systems that would work with Honda’s platform. Any way you slice it though, the pairing of energy savvy consumers with cutting edge transport bodes well for the future.