REDWOOD CITY, CA Aug 25, 2022
The EV charger is free, so long as the distributor has control.
Specialised grid management software from Schneider Electric and AWS hosting are helping Endeavour Energy adapt its electricity supply controls for a renewable world.
The electricity distributor’s chief asset and operating officer Scott Ryan told iTnews two factors are creating what amounts to a revolution in the electricity sector.
One is the vast growth in grid-connected solar panel deployment, which puts midday supply peaks and evening troughs out-of-sync with demand.
The second is the “electrification of life” – the nascent but growing electric vehicle market, plus a widespread move away from gas-powered appliances.
To deal with this, Endeavour Energy needs tech to “see behind the meter”, gathering data and adjusting consumer power consumption to better match the supply available from the grid.
To get consumer buy-in for the idea that they might sometimes let their electricity supplier take control, Endeavour is offering a variety of rewards under a pilot project called Power Savers.
Power Savers has five offers covering air conditioning, water heaters, solar batteries, EV charging, and inverter control.
In each, Ryan said, the customer gets some kind of free offer – whether a $200 thermostat controller for the air conditioner, or a $3000 JET Charger for their EV.
“For 20 days of the year, when it’s really hot, and we’ve got that peak, we’re going to take control of that thermostat … that doesn’t mean you’ll lose your air conditioner, [but] we might increase the temperature on a hot day by one degree.”
That, Ryan said, will offset a heavy load on the network.
Similarly, control of the customer’s solar inverter means Endeavour can scale back the electricity a customer is exporting to the grid when demand is low; and the time of consumption by the EV charger or the hot water service can be shifted to when supply is greatest.
For a pilot project, Endeavour wants 500 smart air conditioner customers, and 50 for each of the other programs.
“We see this as a really important trial. Because if we get this right, and we get the key learnings out of it, we can take this out to the broader customer base,” Ryan said.
He added that the importance of the program is down to Endeavour’s expectation that the 20 percent of homes that have solar power installed will grow to 40 percent by 2030, and the 2000 EVs now owned by the utility’s customers will grow to 200,000 in the same period.
The core of the control system for Power Savers is Schneider’s Autogrid software, Ryan said.
“It’s able to talk to the various elements of our program. It can talk to the electric vehicle chargers, it can talk to the hot water system, home energy management systems, it can talk to thermostats for our air conditioning,” he said.
Orchestrating control over the diverse systems “takes place in a central location at Endeavour Energy via Autogrid”.
For the customer, it’s important that the system be “set and forget”.
With an internet connection, senior engineer future networks Mojtaba Mousaviara told iTnews Autogrid just needs wi-fi on the customer side so it can communicate with the managed system.
The EV chargers have 4G support if wi-fi isn’t available.
Since Power Savers is currently a pilot program, data collection and analysis is also important.
“The Autogrid is connected to the cloud, and getting all its information from the cloud,” Mousaviara said.
“All information from the charger – that includes the status and all those measurements, current voltage, power, energy – all those go to the cloud. And then through the API connection … built between the Autogrid and the Schneider platform, and JET Charge platform.”
That data creates the event the system controls, with one application for each of the programs in Power Savers.
Mousaviara said the integration of Endeavour’s Schneider-based Advanced Distribution Management System with the customer-facing Autogrid means that in a future rollout across all customers, “it’ll be easy to scale”.