IBM Research announced that it has teamed with EKZ, the electricity utility provider of the Canton of Zurich in Switzerland, on a new pilot project that will allow consumers to conveniently charge electric vehicles and monitor their energy costs, using mobile devices. This near real-time information will also help utility providers better manage power grid loads during peak charging times – a challenge that is set to grow as more electric vehicles are on the road.
The IBM app runs on most smartphones, tablets and Web browsers, and provides an integration point between the vehicle, the utility provider and the driver. Using a simple four-button interface the app shows the vehicle’s battery level, range of travel distance, vehicle location, charge schedule and current energy costs in real time.
Whether at home, in the office or thousands of miles away, electric vehicle owners can quickly consult their mobile device to check whether their car’s battery level is sufficient for its next use. Another advantage of the app is that it can be programmed to start battery charging at a future point in time, for example when rates are lowest or when a trip is planned.
The IBM app also allows vehicle owners to delegate the responsibility of recharging the battery to the utility provider, which can schedule charges based on the availability of renewable resources, such as sun and wind, allowing the utility to improve load balancing and prevent outages. EKZ believes this will be a value added service that will gain more significance as electric vehicles become prevalent.