In June, ESCOIA co-founder Bjørn Utgård participated in the world's leading conference and industry fair on Electric Vehicles, EVS29, in Montreal, Canada. The goal was to exchange experiences with the world's leading experts on the emerging electrical transportation industry.
The conference was inaugurated by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard (pictured), who last year launched a CAD 420 million vehicle electrification plan for the province. The goal is to put 100,000 EVs on the road by 2020, and the government is aiming for 785 public charging stations and 60 fast chargers by the end of 2016.
Through the project "Improving the conditions for distributed energy in Costa Rica", ESCOIA and its project partners are developing four Costa Rican innovation proposals. One of these, which is described in the upcoming final report, is smart vehicle charging.
Electric vehicles charge their batteries by connecting to the electricity system, at home, at work, at public chargers around town or along the highway. Smart vehicle charging means intelligently managing how and when the charging happens, so as to minimize the cost of electricity and the need for reinforcing the grid and running expensive back-up power plants. This benefits not just the vehicle owner, but all energy consumers through avoided grid costs. Not to mention the avoided health and climate impacts from fossil fuel emissions.
An interesting finding from EVS29 is that although Costa Rica still has very few EVs, the impact on vehicle charging on the grid will be felt with much fewer vehicles than for Quebec. While the peak power demand of Quebec, with 8.2 million people, is 44 gigawatts (GW), Costa Rica's peak in 2015 was just 1.6 GW. (The primary reasons are that Quebec uses electricity for heating during cold Canadian winters and that it has a large power-intensive process industry).
What this means is that Costa Rica, whose electricity system is powered almost exclusively by renewable energy, has a golden opportunity for developing and demonstrating smart vehicle charging solutions - while also reducing its reliance on imported fuels, meeting its climate targets and improving the air quality for its citizens.
The upcoming report will give more details, and we are working on the follow-up.