|GE’s WattStation Connect for mobile device users. Click to enlarge.
GE Energy’s Industrial Solutions business unveiled the new WattStation and WattStation Connect software at the SAE 2012 World Congress in Detroit, Mich. (Earlier post.) The solution allows WattStation owners to manage charging stations remotely, giving them the ability to manage and set customer pricing for EV charging, provide access control at their facilities, generate valuable reports and engage with customers in new ways.
The WattStation Connect full-service software platform helps meet a variety needs for providers of EV charging services, whether for a retailer looking to attract new customers, a commercial property manager in need of information on electricity usage or a fleet owner in search of better cost-allocation data. WattStation Connect provides owners a user-friendly method to manage, monitor and maintain their EV charging ecosystem network.
|GE’s Immelt on EVs and the Smart Grid
|In his opening keynote address at SAE 2012 World Congress, GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt said that GE has been investing in EVs in some ways for decades, but has become more aggressive about the sector over the last few years.
|“We only invest in things that we think can be long-term business competitive and long-term pervasive. We think electric vehicles can become that.”
|“...I think every aspect of the electric vehicle can be done; every aspect of a smart grid can be done. This is a business-process issue. This is about incentives for utilities, incentives for consumers, getting things down the cost curve, and the commercialization process.”
Industrial Solutions is forming data acquisition agreements with key navigation companies to share information on the installations and availability of WattStations throughout the US and Canada. This enables EV drivers to view and locate GE’s WattStations, obtain directions to the EV charging stations, access pricing details and determine whether a unit is available for charging. In addition to global positioning systems (GPS), the GE WattStation Connect data will be available through the Internet, mobile app/device and future in-vehicle (built-in navigation) systems.
GE Energy’s Industrial Solutions business is also working with a well-known online payment company to enable drivers safely and conveniently to pay for charging fees through the WattStation Connect mobile app for smartphones. The app will be available for download in the coming weeks. EV drivers can use the mobile app to scan the quick response (QR) barcode on the WattStation charger. The QR code will identify the station and the pricing structure for that individual charger.
GE Energy’s WattStation and WattStation Connect are designed to work within the EV ecosystem, smart electronic commerce and monitoring systems, making it energy efficient and providing customers with a no-hassle experience. The WattStation can be installed into any commercial, public or retail location.
|WattStation pedestal. Click to enlarge.
Combining functionality with a modern design by industrial designer Yves Behar, the Level 2 GE WattStation pedestal uses smart grid technology and enables utility companies to manage the impact of electric vehicles on the local and regional power grids. LED indicator lights help to identify when it’s available for use, charging an EV or if a fault has occurred.
The WattStation’s intelligent self-cleaning cord management system allows for use in a multitude of environments without compromising the life of the product. The cord is self contained within the charger to keep the cord organized and out of the way when the charger is not in use. The cord only retracts when the charger is disconnected from a vehicle, preventing damage when the charger is in use. An automatic electric brake on the cord prevents it from pulling on the vehicle charge socket.
Three modes of communication (cellular 3G, Wi-Fi or Ethernet connections) provide WattStation owners with flexibility for communicating back to the WattStation Connect network. The WattStation Connect software offers the flexibility of different packages (fleet, corporate and commercial) and customizable payment options.
GE’s WattStation Connect mobile app enables EV owners to locate stations, see station availability, pay for charging their vehicle and check the status of the charge while their vehicle is charging. The mobile app will be available at the Apple iTunes Store and Android Market. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology provides secure access to the charging station.
Through the GE EV Certified Installer program, users can tap into GE’s network of service providers for the assistance they need to make their EV charging projects a reality.
Smart grid demo. Keeping with the “Get Connected” theme of the SAE 2012 World Congress, GE and its strategic partner Nissan are showcasing interactive exhibits at the event that demonstrate the integration of electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF into the home with Smart Grid technologies.
Other demonstrations include Nissan’s CHAdeMO-based DC quick charging system and vehicle-to-home, reverse-flow power management with the Nissan LEAF. GE’s display includes the WattStation EV charging station; Nucleus Home Energy Manager, which communicates wirelessly with smart devices in the home to monitor household electricity consumption; and Demand Response Management System (DRMS) software, which can be used by utilities to manage electricity loads.
The Nissan/GE booth is demonstrating:
The EV communicating directly with the utility or with the home energy manager to help manage electricity consumption;
The EV acting as a back-up power source in the event of a power outage;
Time-of-Use demand response scenarios where devices in the home like the refrigerator, washer/dryer and EV charger react to changes in the prices of electricity based upon the time of day.
The booth demonstration builds on the existing R&D agreement that Nissan and GE have in place on smart charging. GE and Nissan have two key areas where they are focusing their research efforts. The first relates to the integration of electric vehicles with homes and buildings. The second looks at electric vehicle charging dynamics and the future impact on the grid once millions of electric cars are on the road.