Electric Vehicles

NREL tests adaptive EV chargers

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s incubator program is testing a large-scale electric vehicle charging station system that adapts to changing electrical conditions.

Startup company PowerFlex uses an adaptive load management system to monitor a building’s available electricity and load. The system adjusts the charging rate of a building’s EV charging stations, reducing the building’s peak power while charging up to 100 vehicles, according to a PowerFlex presentation.

Earlier this year, NREL installed 16 PowerFlex charging stations at its National Wind Technology Center to validate the stations’ smart charging control capability, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory.

PowerFlex’s adaptive technology allows for a 50 percent cut in the electrical service needed to power the stations by sharing the charging power between stations, according to NREL. The lab is also evaluating the ability of the charging station’s load management system to reduce charging during a building’s peak demand.

PowerFlex, based in Los Altos, Calif., is part of NREL’s $30 million Innovation Incubator program, which aims to bring emerging technologies to commercialization. So far, 20 companies are part of the program.

PowerFlex contends its systems save building owners money because less electric service capacity is required. Also, with full installation, a PowerFlex system costs 35 percent less than competing chargers, according to the company.

PowerFlex is targeting offices, apartments, and condominiums for its chargers.