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Utilities can address Electric Vehicle Challenges with SAP Solutions

Electric Vehicle adoption is becoming a reality worldwide and it is growing at an accelerated pace. Automobile manufacturers across the globe are focusing on developing electric vehicles for mass consumption. The developed nations specifically are seeing this growth which is fueled by numerous factors like:

  • Electric vehicles are becoming more and more affordable. Coupled with innovative buying campaigns, it is driving purchasing
  • Lower cost of ownership of electric vehicles since these are not dependent of traditional fuels and simpler mechanical technology translates into lesser maintenance and failures
  • Increasing cost of fossil fuels since most nations are dependent on imports for such fuels and hence often consumers are opting for their small vehicle as an electric vehicle
  • Environmental concerns caused by use of traditional vehicles with some nations having high taxation on these
  • Rebates and concessions offered by governments in use of electric vehicles either directly or indirectly
While all this growth of electric vehicles is good for the economy, good for the environment and of course translates into additional revenue stream for automobile manufacturers, electric utilities are really concerned on how they can address the impact to their business, planning and supply of electricity by this increasing use of electric vehicles.

Charging an Electric Vehicle consumes and demands significant electricity when compared to the overall household consumption and average demand in a billing period. Hence increase in use of electric vehicle creates additional consumption and demand requirements. Some of the challenges that electric utilities are facing with the use of electric vehicles are:
  • Utilities are unable to plan additional consumption or demand from use of Electric vehicles  because utilities have no knowledge of number of such vehicles in a particular geography and at what time of the day these will be charged
  • Spikes in electricity demand can result due to concurrent charging patterns, sometimes leading to neighborhood blackouts
  • Meeting unplanned demand will require increase in financial, operational, field and planning resources
  • New services have to be introduced like public charging outlets and may have to be tied back to billing systems
  • Extra meters with line infrastructure and field personal may have be deployed to install dedicated meters in garage / parking areas
  • Standard household rates may not be valid for Electric Vehicles charging. Higher or different rates for Electric Vehicles may be required by some utilities or regulations
  • Changes may be required in bill print to show separate consumption for Electric Vehicles charging from regular household use
While the above are significant challenges posed by growing use of electric vehicles, there are possible solutions for utilities that are running SAP or planning to implement SAP based solutions.
  • Identifying additional demand and consumption requirements due to Electric vehicle use is important. Utilities can reach out to customers to understand their interest in Electric Vehicles and whether they are planning to purchase an electric vehicle in near future. The earlier the customers notify the utility, the more effective demand planning would be possible. This solution can be achieved in SAP in multiple ways:
  1. This communication can be created as a campaign in SAP Customer Relationship Management with a preselected target group. Based on the response the campaign effectiveness can be analyzed and reported. Further campaigns can then be modified accordingly.
  2. Bill Inserts via SAP Print Workbench or SAP certified products like StreamServe can help reach out to customers to gauge their interest in Electric Vehicles
  3. With SAP UCES, customer feedback can be recorded when the customer logs into the online portal
  • Utilities can tie up with Electric Vehicle dealers/sellers in their geography to notify the utility on sale of Electric Vehicles per geography. Using SAP, an Idoc based integration can be achieved with the Electric Vehicles dealer/Seller sending out a message with details of customer who has purchased the vehicle and his address . The same customer's details can be updated with relevant information in the SAP Master Data if it is also the utility's end customer.
  • Some utilities may want to have differential rates and tariff for Electric Vehicle charging. Using SAP's IS-Utilities Billing module will allow to setup differential tariff for such cases. SAP IS-Utilities Work Management and Device Management modules will allow a separate meter installation and dedicated meter reading management. Utilities may recover the costs involved in additional meter installation from the customer. This cost can be integrated into the regular periodic bill by using SAP's Sales and Distribution Module and IS-Utilities Invoicing.
  • Customer awareness campaigns can be executed to educate customers on charging their Electric Vehicles at off-peak hours. This can again be achieved using SAP CRM Campaign Management, Bill Inserts via SAP Print Workbench or StreamServe and SAP UCES.
  • Electric Vehicles can also be integrated into the Smart Grid. With this integration, utilities will have the ability to remotely disconnect Electric Vehicle charging to reduce peak load on the local distribution infrastructure. This solution can be achieved with SAP IS-Utilities AMI integration pack of AMI where remote disconnection services are provided.
  • Increasing outlets for public charging of electric vehicles will allow utilities to closely track and monitor growth and usage of electric vehicles in a geography. With SAP's Enterprise Asset Management modules, utilities can perform the entire blueprint to construction to maintenance of such charging outlets.
  • A customer using a charging outlet can input his Customer or Account Number prior to charging. With SAP Mobility solutions these charging outlets can be integrated to SAP IS-Utilities Device Management modules to capture consumption and the same can be billed and included in the periodic bill of that customer.
  • SAP Print Workbench and StreamServe can be used to enhance customer bill print by showing separate consumption and billing line items for electric vehicle usage.
  • SAP BI can be used to generate business reporting for electric vehicles. Some of relevant reports can provide insights into revenue by EV consumption, penetration of Electric Vehicles, forecast in growth of Electric Vehicles, Charging station utilization etc.
While Electric Vehicle challenges will continue to grow, with SAP based solutions, utilities should be able to address these challenges in a more effective and organized way and for a much longer term without having to incur significant significantly or bringing in 3rd party solutions.

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