New SWTCH Control energy management system, which has spent six years in “stealth” testing, uses existing building infrastructure to expand EV charging capacity
SWTCH Energy, a Toronto-based EV charging and energy management company, has officially unveiled a new energy management system for multi-tenant buildings that allows property owners to install and manage up to a 10-fold increase in EV chargers using the building’s existing infrastructure.
The system, called SWTCH Control, has been piloted in cities including Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Test clients include real estate development company Onni Group and real estate investment manager Skyline Group, headquartered in Toronto and Guelph, Ont., respectively.
Now, following that “stealth” testing, the system is getting a mass release, in a marketing push that targets both old and newly built multi-tenant buildings across Canada and the U.S.
“More than one-third of all North Americans live in multi-tenant properties, and most still can’t charge at home,” said Carter Li, CEO of SWTCH, in a press release. “This bottleneck is only going to get tighter as more people choose to drive EVs.
“Our solution provides unmatched visibility into building electrical loads and available capacity, and early adopters have been able to instantly expand their charging options and/or make EV charging possible for the first time.”
SWTCH Control is an extension of the company’s work developing EV charging systems. At its core is a smart sensor that tracks energy usage in a building and allocates energy to EV chargers with vehicles connected to them, based on available power.
“Our software, SWTCH Control, will take these inputs of what the sensor is telling me what’s happening in the building, what the demand is for cars in the parking lot,” said Samuel Bordenave, head of finance and strategy at SWTCH, in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada.
“It’s going to optimize that and make a decision for much to allocate for charging.”
Specifically, the software recognizes points during the day — such as overnight hours — when people may not be using as much electricity in the building. The technology then works out the space on the energy grid that could be allocated to EV chargers.
“When everyone comes home, maybe they turn the lights on, the oven on, and you have a big spike in demand for electricity from all those different loads,” Bordenave said.
“You don’t want to add EV charging to that, so our software calculates the added capacity that you can add for EV charging and redistributes that to the chargers.”
A gap in the system
SWTCH Energy believes its mass market launch of the new system comes at a critical time.
EV adoption is rising and will continue to do so. On top of that, two provinces (B.C. and Quebec) and a growing number of municipalities have EV-charging readiness mandates in places for new multi-tenant buildings.
More jurisdictions are likely to follow suit. But a big roadblock remains with aging multi-tenant buildings. They were never designed for EV infrastructure and must be retrofit to handle charging stations.
Bordenave said the new system integrates equally well with new builds and existing buildings, and therefore allows the latter to scale up charging installation without requiring as much investment in new electrical infrastructure.
Skyline is a case in point. It is using the system as part of a plan to retrofit over 200 older buildings across Canada (built from the 1960s to 1990s) with EV charging.
“We’re future-proofing our buildings to benefit our tenants and incorporate clean energy alternatives that reduce our carbon footprint,” said Rob Stein, president of Skyline Energy, in the press release. “SWTCH’s software takes the electrical load management off our hands while providing a solution that makes financial sense.”
On average, according to Bordenave, SWTCH Control saves a building close to $40,000 in infrastructure upgrades.
“What SWTCH Control does is that it enables building owners to kick start their EV journey,” he said.