Smart grids fuse energy development with technological advancements. Using sensors, IoT, and other computing devices, there is a provision for two-way communication between consumers and utility providers in a smart grid. As an artificially intelligent system, a huge amount of data comes from various sources, e.g. smart meters. All the unstructured data gathered from these sources can only be valuable with smart grid analytics.
Smart grid analytics are systematic computational analyses of the data produced in the grids. With these analytics, one can get a more precise interpretation, communication, and identification of data trends or meaningful patterns from the data that comes in. Thus, it is essential to improve grid operations and predict the next course of action.
A Brief History
From the 1990s, attempts at electronic metering, control and monitoring evolved into smart grids. From automated meter readings in the 1980s to Advanced Metering Infrastructures in the 1990s, attempts have been made to go beyond measuring power usage to maximizing the information.
The concepts of analytics can be traced back to the 19th century with Frederick Winslow Taylor’s time management exercises and Henry Ford’s measurements of assembly lines’ speeds. It would interest you to know that predictive analytics (which is now of high importance in smart grids) started in the 1940s. However, it did not attract any attention until the 1960s, when decision support systems became popular. By 2005, businesses applied analytics to make iterative explorations on past activities and make decisions to plan the future.
Applying analytics to smart grid data is what birthed smart grid analytics. The problem of big data (as Roger Magoulas called it in 2005) has always existed as long as the internet. Around early 2012, big data in smart grid systems initiated collaboration between smart grid integration companies and data analytics start-ups.
As grids became smarter, grid data analytics also developed, using available technologies such as machine learning techniques. Computing techniques like statistics, machine learning (under artificial intelligence), and data analytics are now being applied in various facets, and the power sector is not left out. As we will see, smart grid analytics gives relevant information that helps set the course of upcoming activities for the effective distribution of power.
Three Things You Should Know About The Current Trends In Smart Grid Analytics
For one, the smart grids analytics market in Europe was projected in 2019 to grow at the compounded rate of 11-12.7% by 2025. This growth is based on how advanced grid technologies are embraced on a broader scale. However, I have observed these trends;
1. There is currently rapid growth in investment in smart grids projects and, subsequently, smart grids analytics.
Many countries in the European Union have invested in smart grids projects and are recording successes. Of the projects, up to 59% are demonstration projects, 32% are for deployment, while 9% are research and development projects. A significant highlight is the smart meter roll-out in Italy that takes up to 71% of these projects aforementioned.
Smart meters are installed in all of these projects, and to get relevant information from the data, smart grids analytics have to be employed. These projects result from increased interest and initiatives channelled to the ongoing energy transformation and sustainability goals.
2. Smart grid analytics work with real-time data even with the increased speed and variety of requirements.
This easy adaptation is because they are entirely computerized and are built on the blocks of advanced technologies. Smart grid analytics can now generate information from high-speed data of various forms needed for the grids’ operation and prior knowledge of what to put in as resources.
3. Digital technologies and cloud computing would continue to improve and allow for more data computation.
Digital data, which highest storage used to be terabytes, is now accessible on larger scales like exabytes and zettabytes. Manual methods and previous ways of analyzing this data are becoming redundant. Also, with the inclusion of renewable energy in the conventional grids, the adaptation of intelligent systems is increasing, and the need for grid data analytics will follow this trend.
Challenges Of Smart Grid Analytics
Despite the enormous advantages and improved technologies, there are still a few challenges. Some include:
- Cost implications – the initial costs of setting up smart grids make many grid operators sceptical about using smart grid analytics. For the grid as well, it usually includes the costs of sensors and other components in making it effective. The analytics themselves are part of what makes the smart grid a modern electric system. However, it is worth the investment to foster a low-carbon economy and a greener world.
- Security concerns – the fact that smart grids allow for two-way communication is a concern as the data is prone to cyber-attacks. Despite this, cybersecurity has continued to improve and is developing better solutions using codes and encrypted data.
- Customer demand – the demand needed for effective use of smart grid analytics is higher than what exists now. Not enough grid operators have adopted analytics, and the low-scale usage is not optimal. More large-scale energy supplying and distributing firms need to embrace the new technologies at this time.
I must re-emphasize that smart grid analytics is crucial to improving smart grids’ efficiency, reliability, and sustainability. And Hive Power provides a SaaS platform with intelligent grid analysis and a flexibility management solution called the Flexibility Orchestrator to help the renewable energy industry key players improve their activities and offer services more desirably.
The use of smart grid analytics benefits both the consumers and the suppliers of power because it improves energy management, allows for more efficient power transmission, and lowers the cost of operation and management of energy. In addition, with the use of analytics, demand would match supply more because of improved decision making.
Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology is a means to a greater end for the world of sustainable energy. Even though V2G is not yet prevalent, the structures necessary for communication between grids and electric vehicles have already started growing with advanced technology. It is essential to note that communication protocols that serve as guidelines in their various applications have to be flexible enough to accommodate change constantly.
Communication protocols guide the interactions between two digitally connected entities. In this case, electric vehicles and grids are the entities. Without standards, there is always a gap and disorderliness. Such chaos is not needed in the exchange of data and the facilitation of communication in the application of V2G (Vehicle-to-grid) technology. The IEC 15118 protocol steps in to solve this problem.
V2G technology can only be implemented swiftly and much more if the points of interaction between the two elements, the vehicle, and the grid, recognize each other. You would agree with me that adaptability makes any product or technology, like the advent of electric vehicle usage, more feasible and desirable. The IEC 15118 protocol is one of the other communication protocols but paves the way for a smooth transition in vehicle-grid integration.
The Focus of V2G Communication Protocols
Many concerns come up when it comes to any kind of data exchange. There is a need for the details (like the specifications & unique identity) of a vehicle to be communicated in V2G. Asides from the fact that details may easily be tracked and need a high level of security, the flexibility of the interactions between EVs, charging systems, and grids are highly required for V2G to thrive.
The IEC 15118 started in 2009 for the Vehicle-to-grid Communication Interface to promote autonomous usage. Interestingly, this protocol is still under development, yet it already gives a platform that allows for a broader scope. As V2G communication is needed to be in place for automatic billing and access to the internet, the IEC 15118 protocol gives a form of global compatibility that applies just as well.
IEC 15118 Protocol: What you should know
Of the two main kinds of community protocols (the front-end protocol and the back-end protocol), I would spotlight the IEC 15118 protocol (which is a front-end protocol. That is as a result of its relevance in V2G technology and its application. Also known as the ISO 15118 protocol, it is one of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards for electric vehicles (including trucks). It has some interesting sides to it, as I would explain below.
1. More Advanced Communication with IEC 15118
Compared to a similar protocol, like the IEC 61851, the IEC 15118 communication protocol is more advanced. For example, ISO 15118 gives the requirements for charging load management, billing and metering. It thus promotes bi-directional digital communication, which is the basis for V2G communication.
IEC 61851 can only do basic signalling, like indicating readiness for charging and connection status. However, IEC 15118 is applicable for high-level communication, which is an advancement. This places it at the core of EV charging and even V2G interactions. This way, there is better communication and information transfer between the Electric Vehicle and the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE).
2. Versatile Application of IEC 15118 to Wired and Wireless Charging
In its implementation for charging electric vehicles, you can apply IEC 15118 to both wired (AC and DC) and wireless charging. Since V2G applies to various kinds of electric vehicles, this protocol suits it appropriately.
With the current update on part 8 of the IEC 15118 protocol, you would notice an improvement that would allow for wireless connection. Part 8, which is the Physical layer and data link layer requirements for wireless communication, informs the protocol’s versatility.
3. Security via Digital Certification in IEC 1158
The communication between vehicles and grids (via V2G) with the IEC 15118 protocol is more secure. This is a result of the use of digital certificates. In addition, public key infrastructures issue and manage digital certificates. These certificates link people, systems, and keys.
Like passcodes (but more complex), encrypted data is used in IEC 15118 to keep information safe. This way, the limit of insecurities in V2G communication is eliminated. Even digital signatures can be created and used as and when due. If, at any time, for any reason, a digital certificate is no longer trusted, the public key can be reversed. Also, these security features have time limits and make it harder to cheat on the system.
4. Automated Authorization
Using IEC 15118, there is no need to do any other thing at the point of shedding excess power from an electric vehicle to the grid asides from doing the necessary plugging. The automated system allows the system to authenticate the identity of the two sides in communication. It uses different authentication schemes like the Plug and Charge technology, enabling the vehicle to authenticate and identify itself on behalf of the driver.
The use of RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification) can be aptly applied in the use of IEC 15118 as a means of external identification. Low power radio waves are used in this application to identify the vehicle and automatically carry out authentication.
5. Standard Nature of the IEC 15118 Protocol
ISO/IEC 15118 is a protocol that forms part of the Combined Charging System (CCS) – a group of standards for hardware and software in charging systems. The CCS agrees to use this to enhance charging that can be operated with various specifications.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) also recognizes the IEC 15118 protocol for V2G communication. Being an international body made of different national standards organizations that set standards, the ISO is globally recognized.
With Hive Power’s Flexibility Manager Module, anywhere V2G would be implemented, charging and discharging can be coordinated easily. This is done by maximizing devices that can be remotely controlled under this module. The Hive platform also provides a means of improving the accuracy of energy data and enhancing smart grids.
Generally, the interoperability and openness of IEC 15118 make it fit in as a V2G communication protocol well. Yet, it is not at the level it should be in the market. Moreover, due to the nature of the V2G technology as one which is still under development, the entire structure needs to keep improving to aid more advanced communication between the digitally communicating elements.
Electric vehicles come with a lot of advantages. Emission-free, efficient, and optionally rechargeable, as well as being an amazing transportation means. V2G (Vehicle-to-grid) technology allows plug-in electric vehicles to interact with power grids and supply the grids with excess energy in batteries. The idea of Vehicle-to-grid has existed since the beginning of the twenty-first century, precisely in 1997. The future of V2G technology ties its probability with that of the use of electric vehicles.
I was surprised to find that experts worldwide have scepticism about how feasible V2G technology would be in the future. However, technology is never exactly accepted by all and sundry at the point of inception. The future of V2G technology is still bright as the development of smart grids technologies and the production of PEVs (Plug-in Electrical Vehicles) would tend to stimulate it.
Like science, it would thrive when it works according to the hypothesis and proves itself when it is accepted. I still see the trend of V2G technology taking over the world of plug-in electric vehicles.
Growth and Trends in V2G Technology
In a book by Dr Lance Noel and three others (Vehicle-to-grid, a sociotechnical transition beyond electrical mobility), they highlighted the usefulness of V2G in the electric vehicle industry as one which has the potential of moving the industry forward. This is due to their point of view that V2G technology is an excellent motivation for the EV (Electrical Vehicles) market. I cannot as well agree less. The V2G technology market is growing at a fast pace.
Currently, precedence research tells that the global vehicle-to-grid technology market would have attained up to $17.27 billion by 2027. This was predicted from the high rate of growth of EV charging stations all around the world. In 2019, Europe had the largest share of revenue in the Vehicle-to-grid market with about 36% share.
As many companies are investing more in research and development, I have also observed that the growth rate in EVSEs – Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment revenue has increased globally to up to 80%. I relate with the positive predictions of the future of V2G technology from these trends. They give a better platform for the connection between grids and electric vehicles.
Recent Developments in V2G Technology
Coming down the time train from various industrial ages, it is evident that the current age – artificial intelligence age – speaks of a smart age. The concept of smart cities integrates smart homes, smart vehicles, smart grids, and all smart devices in one. Various attempts have been made to develop the technologies that aid the approaching of smart cities. A major key player among these technologies is the electric vehicle. For continuity, V2G technology has continually been researched and is hoped to come closer to reality.
Some remarkable developments in V2G technology I have observed in the past five years include:
- Development of smart grids for electricity and load management – This allows for regulations that would aid apt control in the charging and discharging of electric batteries. EV owners can push the power from the batteries back to the grid and vice versa (in the normal charging situation – G2V, Grid-to-Vehicle). Electric utilities already maximize power by using smart grids, which is a step toward promoting V2G technology.
- Development of batteries and charging systems with the bidirectional operation – In September 2020, Tesla unveiled a new EV battery design that allows for adaptation to the V2G technology. However, it was given that the production of new batteries will start around 2022 and 2023.
Despite speculations about when it would start being applied, this development gives a picture of readiness for change. These new batteries cost about 56% less than the former batteries and store up to 380 Wh/kg. The capacity increases, and the cost decreases. The use of stationary storage facilities poses threats and has its advantages. Yet, we should explore the concept of mobile power storage by virtue of the V2G technology. I believe we can all do more rather than box ourselves with the norm.
Applications in the Future of V2G Technology
The application of V2G technology is major to power grids. This can then be applied in the regular diverse applications. Consequently, the best way to maximize V2G technology is by utilizing it alongside smart grids.
We can apply V2G technology to power homes as well. It can serve as a service that is more consumer-controlled. The same way it is connected to public grids or community grids, your EV can be channelled to provide the power needed from time to time in your homes.
A solar-powered car can provide power to your home when the battery is full or the grid during high demand using the V2G technology. Its application in this area is even essential. This is because temporary storage and proper control of excess power are necessary to avoid fluctuations. What better use than to channel the stored energy to grids where it is needed. The same goes for cars with rechargeable batteries and those with inbuilt generators. V2G technology makes power distribution and production better.
The Next Ten Years – Engineering Advancements to Come in the Future of V2G Technology
A two-sided energy flow idea gives a picture of what the future holds for V2G technology – flow between energy generation and distribution corporations and consumers. V2G technology is on the verge of becoming more widely accepted as electric vehicles are rapidly increasing worldwide. Electric vehicles recorded a 40% increase in yearly sales in 2019 and have continued to grow. To combat the issue of peak demand, you can expect V2G technology to be developed practically and increasingly adopted before 2030.
As technology continues to advance, I expect that batteries will get charged faster, leading to more demand from the grids. As a result, there would be a greater need to balance grid systems, and V2G technology can address most of the problems.
The world would need renewable energy and power sources more than before due to apparent reasons – climate change effects and gas emissions from fossil-fuel-generated power, consequently impacting the grids and their management. V2G technology would contribute to intervening aptly to avert consequences, and I look forward to its full utilization.
Q: Tell us an interesting fact about you.
GC: My son Alexander, who is almost three years old, was born exactly one year after the foundation of Hive Power, and I just realised it a few weeks ago.
Q: What are your other interests asides from creating energy solutions?
GC: When I have free time, I usually spend it with my family, which is the best way to distract from work. I also like to play tennis, snowboarding, and like every Italian, playing football!
Q: What is one word that best describes you?
GC: I am curious, and I always try to understand the mechanisms behind what happens in front of my eyes, especially at the societal level. For example, now I am very interested in understanding how the adoption of electric vehicles will evolve in Europe.
Q: How do you see Hive Power in the next two years?
GC: I see Hive Power with a bigger team, working in different geographies, and, very important, bringing on partnerships with some of the major hardware and software providers in the energy and mobility fields. In this field, you can not disrupt the system alone, unless you are Elon Musk.
Q: Pitch Hive Power to us in a few sentences.
GC: Hive Power is building a Software as a Service platform to improve how we manage flexibilities. With flexibilities, we mean all the devices that generate or consume electric energy, which could be shifted in time, without affecting the comfort of the users, e.g. the charging of an electric vehicle or the operation of an industrial engine. We call this extensive framework our Flexibility Orchestrator, recalling a now common paradigm used in software engineering. We implemented a layer of digital solutions on top of the orchestration, now available thanks to the ongoing digitalisation, for dynamic pricing of energy, energy communities, and energy analytics for final users.
Q: What is your biggest achievement so far, leading Hive Power?
GC: In the last year, we have proven our market fit with our applications for Flexibility Orchestration used in operation by our customers. In parallel, we are testing future relevant solutions, e.g. V2G, with important industrial partners, helping us shape the first release soon.
Q: How would you describe the company culture of Hive Power?
GC: In Hive Power, I see three central values, which are familiar to the whole team. Integrity, with big respect of our counterparties, like partners, contractors, or customers. The desire for innovation and improvement, which push us to always look for a better solution. The collaboration, well described by the Swiss unofficial motto: Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno.
Q: Do you have some books to recommend to readers?
GC: For startuppers, I recommend The Personal MBA, by Josh Kaufman, and The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz. They are great books to learn business lessons on building new ventures. For everyone, I have been impressed by the work of Yuval Noah Harari and Tim Marshall and their ability to summarise history and geography in a limited number of pages.
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