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BluWave-ai partners with IESO, OEB, Hydro Ottawa on EV project

BluWave-ai has partnered with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), the Ontario Ene...

IMAGE: the BluWave-ai project partners

The project partners, from left to right: Mostafa Farrokhabadi, BluWave’s vice-president of technology; Devashish Paul, BluWave’s CEO and founder; Gurmesh Sidhu, Moment Energy CEO; Bryce Conrad, Hydro Ottawa CEO; Lesley Gallaghar, IESO CEO; Kelly Daize, AreaXO director; and Todd Smith, Ontario’s Minister of Energy. (Courtesy BluWave-ai)

BluWave-ai has partnered with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), and Hydro Ottawa on an initiative aimed at managing electric vehicle charging during peak demand periods.

The cloud-based, AI software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform EV Everywhere can pool the storage and charging capabilities of electric vehicle (EV) batteries to smooth out demand peaks and take advantage of lower-cost energy at off-peak hours.

The service will allow customers to opt-in and automate their EV charging based on lower-cost times or cleaner energy access, or it can simply alert them to the best charging times during the day. It will be available to customers in Ottawa on desktop apps as well as Android and iOS apps in 2023.

“What’s happening now is with the influx of EVs, the EVs themselves are a type of storage,” said Devashish Paul, BluWave’s CEO. “Here’s the opportunity to put more wind and solar energy into the EVs if you do it at the right time . . . If you do it at the wrong time, there might not be wind and solar energy, prices might be high, or you might be using natural gas or coal to generate that electricity.”

Through the Grid Innovation Fund, the IESO will provide $2.4 million of the funding for the $4.8-million project, in addition to its electricity market knowledge. The OEB, the independent regulator of Ontario’s electricity and natural gas sectors, will provide regulatory support.

The IESO forecasts Ontario’s electricity demand from the electrification of transportation will increase 20 per cent annually.

Hydro Ottawa’s goal is to have net-zero emission operations by 2030.

The EV Everywhere platform

BluWave, founded in 2017, began working on EV Everywhere a year and a half ago. The Ottawa project, which will run until 2025, is utilizing Level 2 and 3 charging systems and network infrastructure at AreaXO, a research and development complex run by economic development agency Invest Ottawa.

Aside from utilizing off-peak hours, EV Everywhere can direct customers to charge at times when more renewables are present in the grid. Those that opt-in to the automated aspect of the platform will still have the ability to override the app to charge when they want.

EV chargers will simply connect to the EV Everywhere platform, and there is no physical alteration to the chargers.

Katherine Sparkes, IESO’s director of innovation, research and development, said the project will help to anticipate the mass EV adoption in the years to come.

“We won’t have everybody coming home from work at six o’clock, plugging in their EV and spiking the demand, but sending them signals, creating incentives, so that they charge at different times to alleviate that pressure on the grid,” Sparkes said. “That’s going to benefit ratepayers in the medium and longer term by deferring the need for new infrastructure in many cases.”

The goal for BluWave is to have at least 50 customers using EV Everywhere in their chargers by October 30, although Paul expects much larger adoption than that.

He also said BluWave is working with the OEB to provide incentives for customers to charge at more optimal times.

Origins of the partnership

Initially, BluWave approached Hydro Ottawa to use its EV Everywhere platform. From there, the other partners joined in and IESO provided funding.

In December, 2021, IESO presented its Enabling Resources Program, a five-year plan to enable emerging resources in electricity markets. Part of that plan includes resources under 1 MW in size, which includes EVs and the storage technology associated with the units.

“This project is about figuring out how we can leverage those growing numbers of small-scale energy resources to participate in our electricity markets and help us meet reliability needs and clean energy goals,” Sparkes said.

Since its inception in 2005, the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund has supported more than 260 projects.

While this is the first project utilizing EV Everywhere announced by BluWave, Paul said the company is talking to other potential Canadian and global customers.

“The ideal scenario for the technology is that it is deployed in basically every city around Canada and around the world,” Paul said. “Everyone’s going to need it, because there’s going to be EVs and every distribution grid is going to have challenges.

“Three to 10 years from now, it’s going to be our biggest-grossing product.”

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