By Fabienne Guildhary, IBM Communications, Energy & Utilities/Media & Entertainment
Often, history serves as a tool to teach us valuable lessons and help us avoid repeating the same mistakes. As Chief Architect of the IBM Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities, Charles Vincent is leveraging his considerable knowledge of Electric Vehicles (EVs) to better shape the future of transportation.
Charles’ passion for EVs was sparked long before his career in electronic transportation took off. Fascinated by the technology at an early age, Charles devoted a lot of time poring over vintage publications on the subject, such as American Electric Vehicle Association newsletters from the early 1900’s. Then in the 1980’s, Charles got the opportunity to put his knowledge and passion to work.
Today, as an IBMer for 26 years and counting, Charles is a key contributor in the development of smart grid technology. Originally dubbed “intelligent grids,” Charles recognized early on the potential for these systems to adapt and respond to fluctuating energy needs. Even at the beginning stages, Charles and his team had a clear focus: work towards building a “Smarter Energy” infrastructure, one that could support increasing populations, new technologies and other unpredictable circumstances, such as extreme weather. The more the development evolved, Charles began to realize the crucial role the smart grid could play in creating a more EV-friendly environment.
Since then, Charles has seen the general public’s interest in EVs wax and wane, depending largely on fluctuating fuel prices. However, he believes the industry has a strong future.
“I think it’s obvious that plug-in electric vehicles will have a significant presence over the next 10 to 15 years,” he said. “Customers are becoming more aware of the benefits, utility companies are implementing new business strategies that will help support growing EV adoption, and even cities are taking the necessary steps to become “EV friendly.”
To help spur that future on, Charles and his team have developed IBM’s Intelligent Electric Vehicle Enablement Platform, a cloud-based energy solution that streamlines the charging process for utilities and consumers. The platform allows utilities to collect energy data via the EV charge-posts, and as a result, accurately measure energy needs and keep the power grid balanced. While, for consumers, the platform provides flexible payment options in the form of pre-paid billing and pay-per-use accounts – all key aspects in driving EV adoption.
Charles says the EV Enablement Platform is the most challenging project he has undertaken thus far and he’s pleased to see it being applied to smarter EV infrastructures across many countries around the world – including Ireland and in the U.S.
What’s next? Charles hopes to increase EV momentum by working closely with all sectors such as consumers, utilities, automakers and stakeholders, to ensure the EV transition is as smooth as possible. With continued advancements, Charles and his team are preparing to harness smarter energy and leave their mark on transportation history.