Artificial Intelligence Pilot to Support EV Electricity Demand in Ottawa

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April 20, 2022

To meet growing energy needs created by electric vehicles (EVs) in the Ottawa area, the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) and the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) are supporting a new pilot project by BluWave-ai and Hydro Ottawa that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to manage EV charging during peak demand periods, saving customers money while extending the life of electricity infrastructure.

Through $2.4 million in funding from the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund, as well as regulatory support from the OEB’s Innovation Sandbox, this project will contribute to technical advances that will help realize the potential of these solutions. Project proponents and their partners are investing an additional $2.4 million. Today’s announcement builds upon the support that the Grid Innovation Fund and Innovation Sandbox are providing to four projects announced last month, bringing the total investment to $41.8 million.

The IESO forecasts that electricity demand from the electrification of transportation, which includes EVs, will increase 20 per cent annually. Increased EV adoption introduces challenges for utilities who distribute the energy needed to charge them.

To meet this growing demand in Ottawa, the IESO and the OEB are supporting BluWave-ai, Hydro Ottawa, Moment Energy and Area X.O operated by Invest Ottawa. This pilot, called EV Everywhere will use AI to create an online service for EV owners that will pool the storage and charging capabilities of EV batteries to smooth out demand peaks and take advantage of lower cost energy at off-peak. The automated system will also gauge customer interest and impacts.

“Innovative technologies, like AI, are unlocking the potential for consumers to exert greater control over how they use electricity,” says Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO of the IESO. “By continuing to fund local projects through our Grid Innovation Fund, we are finding new ways to harness the potential of local supply and change the way we think about our electricity grid.”

“Supporting projects such as this gives us insight into emerging challenges in a rapidly changing energy sector, and advances our thinking on solutions that can address those challenges,” says Susanna Zagar, CEO of the OEB. “We are pleased that the OEB Innovation Sandbox can help pave the way for this project to proceed, with the ultimate goals of sector innovation and consumer value.”

This pilot will test an AI software platform that supports utilities in the visibility of and support for the growing numbers of EVs drawing electricity from the local grid. With input from customers, optimized charging times and strategic placement of battery storage, the platform aims to reduce the strain on the local grid, as well as allow EVs to provide services to the broader provincial electricity market. 

“We know that electric vehicles are the cars of the future,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “That’s why our government is building EV charging stations across Ontario’s busiest highway and working to provide an ultra-low overnight electricity rate to reduce EV charging costs when province-wide electricity demand is lower. Projects like EV Everywhere will help further integrate EVs into Ontario’s electricity grid by leveraging AI to shift EV charging to off-peak periods, a win-win that saves customers money, while reducing peak demand on the grid.”

“Distribution utilities in Ontario are faced with the challenges to support increased demand from EV chargers in customers’ homes and businesses,” said Devashish Paul, CEO and Founder of BluWave-ai. “BluWave-ai’s EV Everywhere eases the transition to high EV penetration using real-time network data to predict demand, considering forecasted consumer loads and behind-the-meter renewable generation. Integrated with utility systems, EV Everywhere provides optimal dispatch for intelligent scheduling of EV charging and available battery energy storage. It’s a non-wires alternative solution that can defer or reduce the need for capital infrastructure upgrades.”

“With our company’s goal to have net-zero operations by 2030, and as we continue to support our city’s growing energy needs, and our customers’ transition to a greener future, it’s important for Hydro Ottawa to take part in province-wide initiatives, and projects like BluWave-ai’s EV Everywhere,” says Bryce Conrad, President and CEO of Hydro Ottawa. “These projects not only provide the groundwork for new, innovative technologies, but also help safeguard our electricity grid from the challenges ahead as part of this transition.”

“Working with BluWave-ai and Hydro Ottawa creates an amazing opportunity to increase EV adoption,” says Gurmesh Sidhu, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer of Moment Energy. “By adding energy storage to the grid, we can solve many problems the grid would otherwise experience as EV adoption increases. Working with partners enables us to demonstrate how effective second-life batteries are and the impact they can make to transmission and distribution infrastructure.”

“As part of our partnership in this project, Area X.O operated by Invest Ottawa will be providing our state-of-the-art private R&D facility and technical expertise to collaborate and demonstrate the technology solution before it moves to real-world deployment,” says Kelly Daize, Director, Area X.O. “The project will be utilizing our Level 2 and 3 Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) charging systems, our network infrastructure and electric vehicles to build out a system to test multiple applications to ensure a seamless and secure transition to deployment.”

Since its inception in 2005, the IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund has supported more than 260 projects, taking innovative ideas from partners, and turning them into knowledge that enables the enhanced reliability, sustainability and resilience of the provincial electricity system.

The OEB Innovation Sandbox enables innovators to better understand regulatory requirements. Where necessary, it helps to clear a pathway for projects to proceed on a trial basis where there is potential to provide value to consumers.

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