Smart grids and home energy management systems will open up a whole new communications and networking infrastructure, so it’s no surprise that Cisco is pushing hard to stay in the loop (see previous posts).
The company has its own own Home Energy Management Solution (HEMS) and on Monday it was announced that electric car company ECOtality had completed integrating it’s Blink Network electronic vehicle (EV) charger interface with Cisco’s HEMS.
It means that the Blink Network charger interface can be accessed through the Cisco Home Energy Controller (HEC), so that those with a Blink EV Home Charging Station can get access to information about their electric vehicles and optimise their charging and energy usage.
An optional set of Cisco compatible peripherals can be wirelessly connected to the HEC to provide monitoring and control of energy loads such as pool pumps, water heaters, appliances, etc. The HEC is controlled from a touch-screen display, which Blink Home Charging Station owners will be able to use to control and monitor their EV charging. The interface will determine which charging times are most cost-effective and the charger can be programmed to start and stop at any time.
The integration also means that Cisco's HEMS technology will be deployed as part of The EV Project in the US, the largest rollout of EV infrastructure to date, of which ECOtality is the project manager. In October 2009 ECOtality was awarded a $99.8m grant from the US Department of Energy to deploy nearly 15,000 charging stations in 16 cities located in six US states.
"Energy management is one of the key smart features of Blink charging stations. By combining Cisco's Home Energy Management solution with our Blink Network charger interface, consumers will now be able to monitor and control their energy use-including EV charging-at home and on the road," said Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOtality. "The Blink interface communicates directly with utilities to determine off-peak and low-cost charging times, and allows consumers to maximize energy usage and reduce costs. Together with Cisco, we are delivering a solution that empowers consumers to adopt renewable energy and promotes energy efficient technology that supports the deployment of the smart grid."
The home energy management market increasingly looks like the new frontier for IT networks and communications, with huge potential for all sorts of services in the future – EV charging is just one (important) aspect. Cisco is trying hard to maintain its place as the network infrastructure provider, but there’s going to be huge competition.