EV charging infra integrated into energy grid in Smart Otaniemi

Much discussed integration of electric vehicles into energy system will be tested first time in Finland in Otaniemi during autumn 2019.  “We will learn how it works, what it requires and how it can be scaled in the future”  says Marko Paakkinen, a Senior Scientist at VTT, who is managing the Smart EV charging pilot in Smart Otaniemi innovation ecosystem.

For technology developers it’s a huge advantage to be able to test how your solution would integrate in this kind of system and to utilize open Smart Otaniemi data platform. Otaniemi is special, because it is a continuously developing test environment, where new solutions can be developed and tested in co-operation with companies, research institutes and citizens. As soon as new solutions or system level innovations emerge, developers can have feedback how their solution fits to the new system and consumer needs.

Focus on user needs

A lot of pre-planning and research still needs to be done before EV charging infra will be stabilising demand and response changes of the electricity grid in Espoo. In the future when more unstable wind and sun energy will be used, demand-response is needed to balance energy peaks and shortages in the grid. EV charging has been seen as an important function enabling demand-response. “So far, we have not had many examples how it really works in this function”  Paakkinen says. “We want to learn how the system should be planned, where different charging spots should be located, how people will use different charging options and how many vehicles will be needed to make demand-response system work.”

Many cities around the globe are making plans regarding EV charging infra, so this information is valuable amidst city developers as well as technology developers.
“First, we needed to understand different user needs for the charging in the area. Where do people want an option for slow, normal or fast charging? We are almost ready with that step. Next, we will offer and develop these technologies in the area with pilot partners Ensto, Parkkisähkö and ESF. When proceeding this way, technology will meet the user needs, not the opposite”  Paakkinen points out.

Let’s put AI to do the work for us

“We are waiting with great excitement the moment when charging spots will be integrated into electricity grid to enable flexibility”  Paakkinen says. E2m has a central role as an aggregator company, connecting the EV charging sub-aggregators to the electricity market.

One of our missions is to test how artificial intelligence could be utilized to make the system more efficient and user friendly. With the help of AI, we could for example help visitors to find the right charging spot for their needs depending on how long they’re staying in the area and depending of the charging level of their car’s battery. “This kind of calculations should be left for machines instead of worrying about it by ourselves”  Paakkinen points out. Of course, AI can help controlling energy loads and participation into the demand-response market.

Why to develop charging technologies in Finland?

“Now many very innovative EV charging solutions, technologies and services are developed in Finland. New, interesting startups pop up frequently”  Paakkinen says. For example, Aalto University is developing wireless charging technologies in the area. Their goal is to reduce the amount of electronics to make the technology more cost effective.

One special asset in Otaniemi area is smart Otaniemi data platform. “As soon as we can open it to all developers, we are able to utilize the data we get from the area, for example how much and how often people charge their vehicles, when electricity is cheap, what is the state of the grid and so on. All this data is useful, when new solutions are developed”  Paakkinen says.

Why to join Smart Otaniemi?

“e2m would like to replicate and adjust German business models and experience also through Smart Otaniemi in Finland. By piloting there, we will learn from other players and get to know development road maps of most of the relevant players in our business. Smart Otaniemi offers us also an opportunity to research additional new areas like building automation and AI.”
Harri Vesa, Director of sales and business development, e2m

“Balancing the electrical network through active participation of the end devices is needed as we migrate towards greener energy. Although few devices support this type of control now, the electric vehicle chargers in Smart Otaniemi give us the chance to glimpse at the future and learn about how the future electrical system might work. There are many interesting questions about how the interplay between the electrical network and end user needs can be balanced and what kind of technical solutions and commercial roles are needed to make this a reality.”  Ville Parviainen, Head Of Software, Ensto Digital Solutions.

Smart EV charging pilot partners: Ensto, Energy Storage Futures, Parking Energy, e2m, VTT, Aalto University

More information:
Senior Scientist Marko Paakkinen, +358 40 183 0255, marko.paakkinen@vtt.fi