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Evolution of the Charging Infrastructure: An Interview with ChargeNode

Explore how smart charging stations are making electric vehicle charging more efficient and convenient with IoT.

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Göran Näslund, Strategic Segment Manager
August 28, 2023

The Swedish newspaper NyTeknik published an interview with Göran Näslund, Strategic Segment Manager at Telenor IoT and Kristian Sandahl, founder and CEO of ChargeNode. The rapid growth of electric vehicles (EVs) has led to an explosion in demand for charging stations. Kristian Sandahl and Göran Näslund believe that we are already in the next phase of development, and that the increased demand requires smart charging stations with reliable connectivity. This is necessary to meet user expectations and to optimize energy and power needs.

In a short period of time, the vehicle charging industry has evolved significantly. To meet the increasing demand for charging stations at public places and businesses, the discussion has shifted from building simple charging stations to the need for smart, more scalable solutions.

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As reliable and easy to use as a gas station

“Publicly available charging stations have previously been uncommon but have seen a high growth in recent years. However, many private charging stations have been installed to be able to charge your vehicle at home. As EVs become increasingly common, solutions are needed to meet the needs of those who cannot charge at home,” says Göran, Strategic Segment Manager at Telenor IoT, which connects ChargeNode’s charging solutions. While it used to be a challenge to find charging stations, the rapid development of the charging infrastructure has also raised user expectations. To meet them, charging stations need to be not only more numerous, but also virtually 100% reliable and easy to use, just like a regular gas station. “I got an electric car in 2013, and it was difficult to find charging stations. The situation is different now, and the customer has higher expectations for every week that goes by,” says Kristian.

Key takeaways from the article:

  • The rapid growth of electric vehicles (EVs) has led to an explosion in demand for charging stations.
  • Smart charging stations with reliable connectivity are needed to meet user expectations and optimize energy and power needs.
  • IoT is playing a critical role in the development of smart charging infrastructure.
  • ChargeNode’s charging system is an example of how IoT can be used to optimize charging efficiency and provide a better user experience.

IoT plays a critical role through real-time connectivity

As charging solutions become more advanced and contain a broader ecosystem, the demand for constant connectivity is also increasing. This is necessary to enable a constant flow of information in real time between different stakeholders. At the same time, vital functions such as charging planning, load balancing, payment flows, communication with the power grid, various safety features, and user authorization are ensured. The person responsible for the operation also needs to be able to constantly monitor, provide support, and, if necessary, also update with new software.

Here, IoT plays a critical role by ensuring that the different components have access to communication at all times and in all places. A large amount of data needs to be exchanged for this to work. IoT is already an important component for smart power grids, charging infrastructure, connected cars, and electricity generation.

According to Kristian, it will be just as normal within 5 years for the electric car to contribute to a stable power grid as it is today for both the car and the charging station to be connected to the phone.

If we look at the forecast for electricity demand in the future, we need to have smart solutions for the power grid because we will not be able to build it out at the pace that is needed.” Kristian SandahlFounder and CEO of ChargeNode

Kristian explains: “In the near future, consumers (in this case electric cars) will also be able to contribute with power and energy to the power grid through an integration into the power grid where the car becomes a resource. Cars and charging infrastructure are gradually acquiring the necessary technology, and standards and business models are being developed at this time. Over time, all vehicle batteries will participate in the modern energy ecosystem and thus contribute to social welfare. The owner of the vehicle will also be able to benefit from it. For this to be possible, of course, there are requirements that all parking spaces have an outlet to connect to the vehicles.”

ChargeNode's charging system: Optimized power distribution and overall user experience

Kristian emphasizes that it is not only a question of a need for more charging stations, but also of smart charging stations with real-time connectivity.

“Our charging system is based on a central unit that manages and handles connectivity, electricity, load balancing of electricity, and the entire customer experience. ChargeNode’s charging system functions as an intelligent conductor for large-scale vehicle charging. When your vehicle connects to the ChargeNode network, it coordinates the power distribution to optimize charging. It also solves the challenge of overloaded power grids by planning when the vehicle should be charged based on electricity demand. By distributing charging evenly over time, harmony is created in the power grid and enables more vehicle charging without problems.

Here, IoT is the real enabler.”

The interview in Swedish can be found here.

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