One concern that came up repeatedly at VentureBeat’s GreenBeat conference this week was the coming wave of electric cars. Those cars are rare now, but what happens when everyone on your block plugs in at the same time? Will the electrical grid get overwhelmed?
An Austin company called Gridbot, which participated in the GreenBeat startup competition, is trying to tackle the problem with a smart electric charging station. When someone pulls up to the charger, they can see how much electricity costs at the moment. If there’s a heavy load on the grid, electricity will be more expensive, and drivers might decide to put off their charge.
And if drivers do plug-in, they enter exactly how long they plan to charge. President and “chief acceleration officer” Richard Donnelly said that this data gets sent to the electricity provider, so they have a sense of “how much is going to be drawn and when it’s going to be drawn.”
Gridbot will be selling its chargers under both a “fleet” model, where an organization buys the outlets to keep all its EVs charged up, and a “vending” model, where anyone with an electric car will be able to plug-in and buy electricity. The chargers are being deployed in a pilot program with 60 outlets at Houston City Hall.