Focus on eMobility: “The infrastructure must be intelligent”

Oliver Deuschle (r.) and Marco Masur of the EnBW brand SMIGHT.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 50 seconds

In the smart city of tomorrow, networking will play an important role. In the second part of our interview, Oliver Deuschle, Director of the EnBW brand SMIGHT and Marco Masur, Manager for eMobility solutions, talk about challenges and opportunities for energy providers on the electromobility market.

Compass: What role does the topic of electromobility play for EnBW?

Oliver Deuschle: We want to actively help shape the change to eMobility. We don’t just see ourselves as infrastructure provider, but also as solution provider. That means we supply the infrastructure, design its execution and guarantee its operation. EnBW is active in all fields. We want to both sell hardware as well as operate it.

Marco Masur: We want to be situated there where the end consumer has a requirement for eMobility and solutions. The most important question there is: Where can I charge my car and what does it cost? There are various approaches. Firstly, charging when on the go with DC charging points, the direct current fast-charging stations, on cross-country stretches. This makes up only a relatively small percentage. Much more frequent is the so-called destination charging. This is, on the one hand, charging at the workplace, where you normally spend at least eight hours a day and you have sufficient time to recharge. On the other hand, this is charging at home. The last major field is fleet loading, for example at taxi companies. They need a charging hub which allows for simultaneous recharging of 100 vehicles in an as shorter time as possible. That will also be important in future for autonomous fleets.

Compass: So what do I need to charge my electric car at home?

Oliver Deuschle: In principle, you could charge your e-car at a completely normal power socket. I myself have an e-smart at home which is fully charged in six hours and can drive for 140 kilometres on this. It’s faster with a special intelligent power socket, the so-called Wallbox, which enables communication with the car.

Compass: Suppose that everyone suddenly started driving e-cars overnight: would there be enough electricity in Germany?

Oliver Deuschle: That is a hypothetical question. It would never happen in that way. In general, you can say that energy providers react to the scaling of electric vehicles and provide the necessary energy and infrastructure required. In future this will very much take place along with the increasing expansion of renewable energies. In any case, we generally don’t have a power problem in Germany. On such a hot summer’s day like today for example, the old, conventional power plants in Baden-Württemberg are hardly running at all because so much energy is being produced by photovoltaic plants. Renewable energies generally have feed-in priority. This means that when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, all conventional power stations have to be shut down. So these plants don’t run very often any more, and when they do, at a much lower price than in the past.

Compass: A good reason to further expand renewable energies …

Marco Masur: Yes, EnBW is no longer investing in the old plants, it is restructuring its business model to reusable energies.

Oliver Deuschle: But that isn’t the only challenge. The whole dynamic which arises with the many diverse influencing factors in the network is also very interesting. Renewable energies are subject to strong volume and supply fluctuations. This is where smart solutions are needed. It’s all about the questions like when is there how much power? How can it be stored? When is it particularly cheap? Instead of the usual household devices with 1.5 to 2 kilowatts, I now suddenly want to charge my Tesla with 22 kilowatts from the household mains socket. How can that work? In order to manage these dynamics, intelligent systems are required. So it is no longer all about developing the system to a point where there are enough charging points, instead, these have to be controlled according to requirements. We call this the Smart Grid. The car has to communicate with the charging point, the charging point with the network and the network, at some time, with the electricity exchange. Networking all these components, making them controllable and adjustable, these are the actual challenges which are new to the system.

The multifunctional base tower of SMIGHT

Compass: And that’s where the EnBW brand SMIGHT comes into play?

Marco Masur: Yes, SMIGHT is our vision of an intelligently networked infrastructure. This is a term made up from the words smart, city and light. It’s not about individual products, it’s about a new infrastructure solution with which we wish to accompany our customers on the way to infrastructural change.

Compass: And a street lamp is the obvious choice?

Marco Masur: Street lamps are optimal, after all, they are everywhere. The great thing is that we can upgrade any conventional street lamp with our hardware. There are 60 million street lamps in Europe and we can make them all intelligent in this way.

Oliver Deuschle: SMIGHT has been developed as a modular system. The central intelligence is a micro-controller which makes communication with our backend possible. Also, you can connect other components such as a charging controller for eMobility. Or many different sensors or actuators, for example to measure environmental data such as fine dust content, noise, air pressure or temperature. As we communicate via the Internet, a router is also always included. This turns the street lamp into a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Compass: In the case of SMIGHT Traffic, which was created in cooperation with PTV, a traffic sensor is connected …

Olivier Deuschle: Exactly. Traffic data is collected through the traffic sensor and sent to our backend. We then transmit the prepared data through an interface to the PTV system, where they are made use of in the PTV Optima software to optimise traffic flows in real-time. In this way, we are jointly offering cities and municipalities an attractive tool to analyse traffic flows, plan ahead and reduce traffic load. The perfect tool for the smart city of tomorrow.

More about this topic:

The first part of the interview: Focus on eMobility: “Infrastructure for e-cars isn’t the problem.”

and Intelligent street lighting provides traffic information