While there are some small-scale projects going on around the world, like Nissan and Enel with the LEAF in the UK and BMW with about 100 i3 owners in San Francisco, smart charging and vehicle-to-grid technologies are far from being widely adopted as forms of electric grid services.

But that doesn’t mean that they are not valuable services and the Netherlands sets out to prove it by becoming a large-scale test hub for the technologies with the hope to make them standards around the world.

The idea is quite simple: have “smart” connectivity with electric vehicle charging stations across large networks in order to control the charging load and match it with peak production of renewable energy.That way electric vehicles get the most out of the grid when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing, and peak demand from electric vehicle charging can be reduced.

The project called ‘Living Lab Smart Charging’ is an open platform to support smart charging. EV charging station companies and network operators can join the platform and they will update the stations to be “smart”. Electric vehicle owners using the stations can have access to an app to set their preferences for charging and they can earn money for being more accommodating to the grid requirements.

In a press release this week, the ‘Living Lab Smart Charging’ explains its 3 steps process:

  • Step 1. Make as many charging stations ready for Smart Charging. A huge upgrade operation is now taking place across the country making sure the existing charging stations will be able to technically facilitate Smart Charging. All new stations already are Smart Charging Ready, such as the 2.500 new charging points being rolled out by the Southern provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg.
  • Step 2. Use those innovative stations for research and testing of Smart Charging. Eg. there’s an App (by Jedlix) that allows its users to earn money by using technology to charge the car in the middle of the night when the wind is still producing power but there is little demand for it. In Utrecht ‘vehicle to grid’ is being tested together with Renault: charging the electric car with solar panels and using it as storage to put power back into the grid when the sun is no longer shining.
  • Step 3. Putting all innovation, tests and research findings into international standards so everyone can benefit from the Dutch experience with Smart Charging.

They are having significant participation in the project with now 325 municipalities (including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague) having joined the initiative. The municipalities represent 80% of the public chargers in the Netherlands and now private and semi-private charging station companies such as The New Motion and EV-Box have joined.

The ‘Living Lab Smart Charging’ initiative is still equipping stations with its smart charging tech. Their website says that they are about 47% done.

While the program primarily focuses on controlling the charging load to get the most out of renewable energy, it will also run test with vehicle-to-grid technology for electric vehicle to store energy at low demand and feed it back into the grid at peak demand.

Here’s a quick video about the initiative:

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