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Eaton unveils Buildings as a Grid package to boost fleet EV charging

Date: 01 April 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Energy management company Eaton has unveiled a new package of services that it says can transform companies' buildings into 'energy hubs' - with potential advantages for fleet EV charging.

The firm says its Buildings as a Grid approach has been made possible following its acquisition of EV charging firm Green Motion.

According to Eaton, building owners who take a holistic view of their on-site energy system will be well placed to avoid power management difficulties and costly grid upgrades that could be needed if EV chargers are added on an ad-hoc basis.

The first element of Eaton's package is an EV charging system, featuring grid-connected hardware and software that can support dynamic charging and pricing.

Then there's an energy management system, designed to improve the resilience of a building's electrical infrastructure, and support a growing need for EV charging with software that can manage energy flows across different electrical assets, potentially including EV chargers, energy storage systems, solar inverters, and physical controls for heat pumps and boilers.

Finally, a power distribution system manages electrical power distribution and protection.

Eaton says the system can automatically optimise a building's power usage to meet different user-defined goals, for example minimising electricity bills, reducing carbon footprint, and maximising renewable energy use.

According to Eaton, its system can be installed without costly engineering works, and allows organisations to store off-peak energy and any self-generated energy such as from solar panels, which can then be redeployed at peak times when energy from the grid would be more expensive.

By integrating with Green Motion's chargers, the system also allows more power to be made available for EV charging, and also for the available power to be split across more chargers than would otherwise be possible, instead of just sending maximum power to a few and leaving the rest of a company's vehicles unable to charge until the first vehicles have finished.

When asked how Eaton's offering could held companies with charging increasingly electrified fleets, Fabrice Roudet, the company's head of energy storage and EV charging for EMEA, said: "The challenge is that you may have the power distribution available to satisfy the need, or [you may not]. If you don't, you can ask the grid operator for an increase of the power supply - it may happen, it may not. In some countries it may take six months, 12 months or even more. 

"If that is too long, then you have to deal with what you have on site. [If you] have multiple cars to charge, if you have limited power, you need to be able to schedule it, to balance it over time, in order to really be able to maximise the way you use the available connection to the grid, the available local power production. 

"And this is where we are going to help fleet managers and site owners in maximising the number of EV chargers they can have on site, and optimising fleet charging."

Roudet said that the system would allow EVs to help solve problems faced by building owners in getting the most from solar panels they may have previously installed.

He said: "Unfortunately, the production of solar energy peaks around noon, and this is not always the time when buildings are consuming the most energy. So, some buildings are not consuming 100% of the energy they produce. 

"If [owners] want to make the most of their investment [in solar panels] they have to increase their consumption. 

"When building owners are capable of consuming self-generated energy for EV charging, this is where they can stack up more benefits."