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Ireland Gets Single Payment System for EV Charging

John Gartner — October 11, 2012

Anyone taking a road trip in a plug-in electric vehicle in the United States will likely encounter charging stations from multiple vendors, which require either signing up for several payment cards or paying higher rates to use a credit card.  Drivers in Ireland don’t have this hassle anymore, as the country now has a single payment system.

Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board (ESB), which oversees the power grid, has teamed with IBM to implement a smart charging platform that enables drivers to roam across utility service territories and pay for electricity using one card.  IBM manages the IT infrastructure for Ireland, which provides data to grid operators about the impact of EV power consumption.  Sharing this data benefits consumers by simplifying the payment for and monitoring of EV charging, and helps utilities by anticipating potential pain points in the distribution grid where frequent daytime charging could add to peak energy demand.

IBM’s cloud-based Intelligent Electric Vehicle Enablement Platform is built on the company’s Smart Cities technologies and will manage the data flow from the nearly 1,000 charging spots currently installed in Ireland.  By 2020 Ireland is expected to have nearly 40,000 charging locations in public and residential locations, according to Pike Research’s recently published report, Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment Europe.  Ireland will have greater penetration of PEVs than the United States, thanks in part to this streamlined system.

Annual EV Supply Equipment and PEV Sales in Ireland, 2012-2020

(Source: Pike Research)

Ireland is part of the European Union’s Green eMotion project for insuring interoperability of PEVs, charging equipment, and the grid.  Ireland has ambitious goals for integrating both electric vehicles and renewable energy as part of the country’s emissions reduction strategy.  Like Ireland, the government of Portugal has also established a single payment system for EV charging.

Many of the large cloud computing companies, including IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Oracle, see harvesting and managing data from PEVs and charging infrastructure as a considerable revenue opportunity.  The charging of electric vehicles has the potential to overload transformers or extend peak demand, and utilities are beginning to take an interest in acquiring this data.  Spending on managing electric vehicle data across Western Europe could reach $297 million by 2015, according to Pike Research’s report, Electric Vehicle Information Technology Systems.

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