Driving Low-Carbon Transformation with Smart Charging: Insights from 2023 Chinese EV Forum

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Hosted by the China Electric Vehicle 100 People Conference,and co-organized by Tsinghua University, China Society of Automotive Engineering, China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, China Automotive Technology and Research Center, and China National Automotive Engineering Research Institute, the China Electric Vehicle 100 People Conference Forum (2023) kicked off in Beijing.

The forum has invited representatives from relevant government departments as well as leading institutions and companies in the automotive, energy, transportation, urban, and communication industries, to have in-depth discussions on a range of topics, including the global automotive industry development landscape, the high-quality development path of new energy vehicles, China’s intelligent connected vehicle development strategy, development trends of core industry and supply chains such as power batteries, new generation car consumption change trends, automotive and energy co-development strategies, new types of transportation energy security systems, commercial vehicle transformation directions, automotive aftermarket innovation paths, and digital and intelligent manufacturing models for automobiles.

At the 2023 China Electric Vehicle 100 People Conference Forum, Jie Jingjing addressed the following key points in her speech:

  1. The future development of power systems follows a three-step approach: achieving low-carbon energy use and increasing the flexibility of electricity consumption adjustment; making new energy sources the main installed capacity of power supply; and turning power users into producers and consumers of electricity.

  2. How charging operators can support the industry’s low-carbon transformation: a ground-based network (upgraded to an integrated intelligent fast-charging station with photovoltaic storage); an online digital brain (achieving an effective balance between supply and demand); and a virtual power plant (achieving peak shaving and valley filling).

  3. Lixiaojucharging’s development: Established in 2017, it has over 100 cities with more than 5,000 charging stations, over 90,000 fast-charging guns, and has provided over 400 million charging sessions.

  4. Low-carbon community project: Encouraging users to charge during off-peak hours and move to the valley during peak hours through economic incentives and low-carbon culture promotion; the total number of participant sessions has exceeded 20,000, with a response time of over 2,000 hours.

  5. Technical considerations: First-level management system (optimal energy control at the plant and station level); second-level management system (effective spatiotemporal matching at the street, city, or regional level); third-level management system (self-balancing of the entire urban power grid system).

  6. Future development: Lixiaoju Energy has contributed to a carbon emission reduction of over 4.4 million tons and will continue to uphold the spirit of long-termism to support the dual-carbon strategy and the blue-sky defense battle.

Here is the original text of the speech:

Respected leaders, colleagues, good morning to you all! I am very grateful for the invitation from the China Electric Vehicle 100 People Conference and feel privileged to share and discuss some perspectives with you today. The topic of my talk today is “Dual Carbon Strategy Drives the Intelligent Transformation of Charging Infrastructure.”You might have paid attention to the bluebook on the development of new power systems released by the National Energy Administration not long ago, which mentioned that the future development of power systems may follow a three-step development model. In my understanding, the first step is to gradually achieve the decarbonization of energy consumption and enhance the flexibility of power usage. The second part is gradually making new energy the main power source in power generation. The third part is enabling today’s power consumers to become both producers and consumers of electricity under a gradually open grid system. I believe the future is promising. As charging operators, Xiaoju Charging is considering how to help the industry’s low-carbon transformation in this context.

I focus on three main aspects. The first aspect I call it the web on the ground, meaning that while there are many offline charging stations today, can they be upgraded to integrated intelligent fast charging stations with photovoltaics and energy storage systems? That is the first step. The second step, I understand, is called the digital brain online, which is to better manage the power management at the station, city, and regional level through this digital brain and achieve an effective balance between supply and demand. That is the second aspect. The third step, as several experts have mentioned earlier, involves the concept of virtual power plants. In the future, after new energy is connected to the grid, there will be many issues regarding the supply and demand sides. As a highly elastic and adjustable power user, we are indeed considering connecting charging stations to the ancillary market. We can effectively change online users’ charging behavior and help the grid achieve peak shaving and valley filling.

This slightly expanded report and discussion of the three parts are made for your reference. Xiaoju Charging, established in 2017, now has more than 5,000 charging stations and 90,000 fast-charging guns in more than 100 cities, with over 400 million cumulative charges. Most of these charging stations are quite large, and a typical charging station has over 20 guns, some even as large as 200 or 300.

Installing photovoltaics is being tested at our stations in Huizhou and Shenzhen. More charging stations can also install energy storage systems. As Mr. Yang mentioned earlier, energy storage has good economic benefits in areas like Zhejiang and Shenzhen, so we have deployed energy storage facilities at these charging stations. Each charging station also has an EMS microgrid system that calculates the most advantageous power source at different times, better planning the power and duration of EV charging. After implementing these initiatives, on the one hand, it makes it possible for charging facilities to obtain electricity locally, and on the other hand, it gradually realizes decarbonization.Secondly, let’s discuss the practice of virtual power plants. As we know, the parent company of Xiaoju Charging is DiDi Chuxing. Currently, there are over 2 million electric vehicles operating on DiDi Chuxing’s platform daily. Generally, drivers operate their vehicles for 6-8 hours per day, with the rest of the time being rest periods. These rest periods create flexible charging opportunities, such as pilot demand-side response projects we launched in some cities last year. For instance, we experimented with valley filling in North China and Shaanxi power grids during winter, while peak shaving in southern regions, especially Guangdong, during summer, leveraging the adjustable charging behaviors for carbon reduction.

During this process, we had some interesting attempts, such as our product called Low Carbon Community, an operational tool for demand-side response. Simply put, if a user accepts a demand-side response offer, we reward them with low carbon credits, which can be exchanged for physical items or charging coupons, encouraging users to charge during off-peak hours and avoid peak hours. In addition to financial incentives, it also promotes low carbon culture, as we award users with low carbon medals for participating in environmentally friendly behaviors.

Another aspect is V2G charging and discharging. As some experts have mentioned, the policy for this area has not yet fully opened, but the technology is relatively mature. We have conducted related tests and pilots in some factories and stations in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, and the prospects for this sector are vast. Imagine in the future, when the technology, market, and policies are relatively mature, millions of electric vehicles on the road will essentially function as mobile energy storage modules. With the expansion of battery capacity, such as 80kWh or 100kWh, redundancy will emerge. Coupled with sound economic policies, V2G charging and discharging could greatly benefit the overall power grid. We are actively promoting research in this area, having perceived potential business opportunities.

To give you a brief update, after more than a year of trials, over 20,000 participants have taken part in demand-side response through the Xiaoju platform, with a cumulative response time exceeding 2,000 hours.

Thirdly, let’s briefly discuss the underlying technical backbone – the digital energy management center. We’ve categorized it into three levels of management capability. The first level refers to optimal energy control at a factory or station level. The future power intake points for charging stations will be diverse, featuring photovoltaic, energy storage, and power grid sources, while charging modes could also be diversified, including orderly charging or fast charging at certain time points. Effective power management is vital in this process, which we call the first-level management system.The secondary management refers to the ability to achieve efficient temporal and spatial matching within a neighborhood, a city, or even a larger region. This is derived from our ability to dispatch vehicle capacity, addressing the shortage of electricity in certain neighborhoods or during specific time periods by either avoiding electric vehicle charging or allowing slow charging. If necessary, we can allocate additional resources to facilitate more charging activities. Through this management system, orderly temporal and spatial matching of factories can be achieved to some extent.

The tertiary level is a relatively macroscopic and broader concept. We believe that the flexibility of the charging sector is considerably large, and in the future, treating it as a subset could indeed assist in balancing a city’s entire power grid system. Consequently, this is a relatively long-term topic.

I personally think that to implement the above applications and deployments, many technological developments are still needed. Examples include V2G charging pile technology, digital network technology, orderly charging, capacity management, energy storage, and more. This is a substantial industry, and I hope to make friends here to explore future collaboration opportunities. Encouragingly, over the past five years, we have been practicing dual carbon strategies, and Xiaojue Energy reduced carbon emissions by more than 4.4 million tons. Of course, we also believe this to be a long and arduous journey, and we will uphold the spirit of long-termism and forge ahead, hoping to contribute to our country’s blue sky and take responsibility for the development of the dual carbon cause.

That’s the end of my speech. Thank you, everyone!

This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email bd@42how.com.