AddÉnergie Driving Electric Vehicle Charging Station Networks
How did you get to work today? Did you walk, take the bus, or did you drive?
Many professionals default to driving, mainly because the other options are either impractical, or limited depending on location. The benefit of those alternatives is that they are eco-friendly solutions. Meanwhile, cars are traditionally seen as the villain in the fight for a greener world.
That doesn’t have to be the case, though. While cars typically cause pollution, many vehicles have gone from villian to hero, joining the fight for a green earth in the form of hybrids and, increasingly, electric vehicles. As of December 2014, more than 712,000 highway-capable plug-in electric passenger cars and utility vans have been sold worldwide.*
If electric vehicles are the hero, AddÉnergie
is the sidekick. AddÉnergie, formed in 2007, designs, develops and operates electric vehicle charging stations.
AddÉnergie develops, manufactures and operates charging solutions for market segments such as the public sector, workplace, multi-residential, fleets, residential and others. The company provides the charging infrastructure for the Electric Circuit and the VERnetwork™, the two largest charging networks in Canada.
A network of charging stations is a group of smart stations connected to a centralized cloud-based management server. This central server, which is the heart of the network, contains the management software, the database and the communication interfaces which enable the operation of the network and support the electric vehicle drivers (EV drivers) as well as the station owners.
AddÉnergie provides the charging stations and software to help the VERnetwork™ and the Electric Circuit serve EV drivers and charging station owners with customer service, access control, payment and energy management.
In order for the electric vehicle adoption to reach its critical mass, it’s crucial that existing drivers and operators have a seamless experience, which can only be accomplished when VERnetwork™ and Electric Circuit have a constant watch on their charging stations at all times.
AddÉnergie designs its networks with Digi’s XBee®, ConnectPort® X4 cellular gateway, and the ConnectCard™ i.MX28. When development first began in 2008, AddÉnergie wanted to create a network that differed from conventional charging stations. Rather than have a master charging station in a parking lot that had its own gateway, they sought to create a system that could cover the entire parking lot.
“Our strategy was to develop an architecture where the gateway is on the building and can cover the whole parking lot, while being able to interface with a third party system in the building (i.e. an energy management system). And, we needed technology that could communicate in a busy, urban environment,” said Louis Tremblay, CEO, AddÉnergie. “We selected ZigBee and found Digi with the ConnectPort X4 and the XBee. Each station has an XBee module and the i.MX is the brain of the charging station.”
With Digi’s products, AddÉnergie rolled out innovative charging infrastructures for the VERnetwork™ and the Electric Circuit. With this innovative model, EV drivers:
- Pass their access card in front of the reader.
- The charging connector unlocks, allowing drivers to plug in their vehicle.
- As soon as the connector is plugged into the vehicle, the charging sequence begins.
- The station notifies the driver when the charging is complete by sending them an email.
- Upon their return, they place the connector back in its designated compartment and close the door.
- An automatic summary of their session is sent by email.
This model not only makes for a seamless driver experience, but it also allows the network providers to easily monitor all activity.
This model enables:
- Preventative Maintenance: Because the stations are cloud-based, they all transmit data back to the providers. This allows them to monitor every charging station, and in some cases, fix problems remotely. AddÉnergie also provides preventative maintenance to operators. The team can identify problems and reach out to providers before they even know there’s an issue.
- Scalability: Using the existing infrastructure to support demand, usage is monitored at one station. If usage is low, it can be redistributed to supply other stations. The smart software automatically manages these power splits and limitations.
- Operational Efficiencies: With its ability to add new charging stations to an existing site for a fraction of the standard costs, the providers minimize operational costs—allowing a fast return on investment. The system includes PowerSharing™ and PowerLimiting™ software, interfaced with Digi products that notifies the charging stations when energy should be lowered.
Today, AddÉnergie has sold over 1,700 charging stations nationwide. VERnetwork™ and the Electric Circuit supply more than 7,000 electric vehicles, thus charging thousands of vehicles per month. And because the network model is demand-based, providers break even on their investment after just three years and see return-on-investment in the fourth year.
With Digi’s help, AddÉnergie continues to be the ultimate sidekick to the heroes that are electric cars in the fight for green earth.