June 22, 2021

Balancing the grid with virtual batteries

Charlotte Kosche

Sr. Content Writer

The U.S. and Sweden-based energy storage company Emulate Energy is partnering with Smartcar to integrate EVs into Emulate’s demand response solutions for retail electricity providers (REPs). Emulate has developed a virtual battery technology that allows REPs to manage demand from electric cars and other devices, enabling cleaner and more affordable energy. Emulate uses Smartcar to let REPs connect, locate, and charge EVs at optimal times.

Emulate’s virtual batteries promote cleaner, cheaper energy

Emulate’s mission is to help retail energy providers master the current energy transition and provide affordable, clean energy to their customers while increasing their margins. REPs are responsible for predicting and purchasing precisely the amount of electricity that their customers will use. When customers use more than the purchased amount of electricity, REPs need to buy more expensive, often non-renewable energy or—in some cases—resort to rolling blackouts.

Emulate helps REPs solve this challenge. The company has developed a software solution that allows REPs to precisely control aggregate demand and ensure cleaner, cheaper electricity for residential customers.

Emulate’s virtual battery technology aggregates electricity from electric cars, thermostats, and other smart devices and packages it as an intuitive energy storage instrument—a virtual battery that can be docked into automated trading platforms. REPs can then “discharge” that battery by delaying or slowing down the electricity consumption of these devices and “charge” the battery by starting or speeding up their electricity consumption. All of this happens without compromising the electricity customer’s comfort—Emulate’s algorithms ensure that the REP can derive maximal value from the aggregated flexibility while respecting customer needs at all times.

Illustration on a green background showing an energy trading platform in the front, then a virtual battery behind it, then a car, an energy generator, and a solar panel behind it, and then multiple wind turbines, houses, and a car behind that. The houses and the car have WiFi signals above them.

“We want to empower every citizen to become an active player in the energy transition by enabling every device in their home or office to facilitate renewable energy integration,” said  Emulate CEO Shwan Lamei.

Smartcar allows Emulate to manage EV charging

Before using Smartcar, Emulate built integrations with a dozen different air conditioners, heat pumps, and water heaters. When the company wanted to add electric cars to its software solution, Emulate decided to use the Smartcar API instead of building integrations for different EV makes and models.

“Without Smartcar, the process of integrating with electric cars would have been long, cumbersome, and resource-intensive,” Lamei said. “A small team like ours wouldn’t be able to achieve this on their own.”

When using the Smartcar-powered solution, electricity customers give REPs access to their EV with just four clicks from their electric utility account. Emulate then uses Smartcar’s location, EV battery, and start/stop charge APIs to check whether the vehicle is at home or work, know what the state of charge (SoC) and the charging status are, and start and stop charging the car at optimal times.

Two smartphone screens showing an interface that prompt the user to log in with their Tesla account and to give Emulate access to read the charging status, read the EV battery capacity, read the EV battery level, read the location, and start and stop charging the user's vehicle.

“Emulate is solving an important problem for both retail electricity providers and the overall energy market,” said Smartcar CEO Sahas Katta. “Integrating and managing EVs in the electric grid is an important milestone on the road to cleaner transportation and cleaner energy. We’re excited that Emulate is using Smartcar to achieve this milestone.”

Retail electricity providers in North America and Europe can now contact Emulate Energy to start using the Smartcar-powered solution.

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