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Electric vehicle charging: the winning formula
Viva Technology 06/06/2023

Electric vehicle charging: the winning formula

Electric mobility is booming, and the SMATCH application, certified a few months ago as an “Efficient Solution” by the Solar Impulse Foundation, aims to optimise the charging of electric vehicles. It was developed at Laborelec, one of the ENGIE group’s four R&D centres responsible for electrical technology and supporting the energy transition. Before presenting SMATCH on the ENGIE stand at the Viva Technology trade fair being held from 14-17 June 2023, Frédéric China, its Product Manager, agreed to answer a few questions. 

Our cloud software connects data about users’ needs with data from the network operator to intelligently manage supply and demand.

Our experts are the real magicians. They are able to perform miracles!

Can you tell us about your technology? 

SMATCH is a “smart charging” tool. It manages the charging speed of each electric vehicle to comply with the physical constraints and priority rules specific to each site, while taking into account the needs of each user. In a company car park equipped with a hundred charge stations, for example, we can reserve charging zones for delivery vehicles that have to charge very quickly because they make a lot of round trips; for management; or for users who are only there for half a day and want to charge as much as they can in four hours. There are places for other users who park there all day long, and can therefore charge more slowly. SMATCH also manages electric charging according to market prices: it restricts charging when prices soar. 

In practical terms, our cloud software, which is interfaced with the charging stations, connects data about users’ needs, configured within the system itself, with data from the network operator (network power, electricity prices at a given time). This allows it to intelligently manage supply and demand. 

Who is SMATCH aimed at?

Our solution is intended for private settings, regions or companies. SMATCH currently operates more than 2,000 charging stations in Rotterdam, which it can optimise simultaneously. In the coming months, it will be rolled out in public and semi-public environments, particularly in Belgium and France.

How is your solution innovative? 

SMATCH’s distinctive feature is that it adds a lot of value to “Front-of-the-Meter” charging. Its strong point is the way it interacts with the energy markets to limit network congestion and manage the financial risk inherent in high charge volumes and electricity price volatility. If electricity is too expensive during the next fifteen minutes, our software reduces the charge by limiting the current sent to the site, without impacting user comfort. Users will not even realise this is happening, as the application supports prioritisation criteria that allocate the minimum charges. So it can share charging reductions intelligently.

What are you going to present at VivaTech?

We will be presenting a model that shows how SMATCH is used and the way that it fits into the mobility ecosystem. 

What do you hope to achieve from your participation? 

We hope to put our application, and Energy Management Systems (EMS) more generally, under the spotlight. And to promote ENGIE’s expertise in this area. 

What would you invent if you had one magic power?

I would give our experts the credit they deserve by pointing out that they create tremendous value every day in the field of energy management optimisation. For me, these are the real magicians. They are able to perform miracles!

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