Interview to Dr. Josh Eichman - IREC

Josh Eichman is the group lead for Energy Systems Analytics at the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research in Barcelona and the project manager of FLOW. In this article we interview him covering questions on technical and non-technical aspects.

Q1: What are FLOW aims, objectives and approach?

R1: FLOW aims to deliver technologies and platforms that allow EV flexibility valorisation via smart charging and V2X that can alleviate some of the challenges faced by the electricity grids. To achieve this, it focuses on several pillars including user-centric design, interoperability, smart charging technologies, platforms for planning, assessment and operation, integration and coordination along the entire value chain as well as scalability and replication across the EU.


Q2: What problems and challenges does FLOW tackle and how does it overcome them?

R2: There are several issues that are preventing the widespread valorization of EV flexibility including the harmonisation of solutions and services, user-centric solutions and the coordination among the many different actors engaged along the EV and flexibility value chain. Understanding users' requirements and needs is a key step to ensure that the solutions are used and meet their expectations. Different platforms for a variety of actors and purposes are defined that can facilitate the planning, design, assessment and operation from the perspective of different users. These are coordinated by an Orchestrator that allows data and information exchange as well the synchronisation of command and service offerings.  


Q3: What makes FLOW special and unique?

R3: The breadth of activities covering a wide range of technical and non-technical aspects and needs that can unlock the potential, as well as the focus on scalability, and mass market deployment as seen in FLOW’s demonstrations.  


Q4: Can you please describe the demonstration and their unique characteristics?

R4: FLOW has 3 very exciting and ambitious demo sites in Spain, Italy and Denmark and 2 test beds in Ireland and Czech Republic where components/elements of the overall concepts are validated and ambitious large-scale demos where system-level solutions covering the entire value chain are demonstrated. These testbeds and demos cover a comprehensive range of scenarios, including 5 countries in south, north and eastern Europe, contexts (urban, semi-urban, rural, and touristic), EV (cars, rental fleet, vans and light commercial vehicles), configurations (V1G, V2H, V2B, V2G; slow, medium and fast), typologies (shared public parking, semi-public office parking, residential, on-road parking) with impressive engagement of users and actors (TSO, DSO, aggregators, CPO, technology providers, OEM) along the value chain.


Q5: Can you please briefly describe your organisation and its role in the project?

R5: The Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (IREC) is the project coordinator for the FLOW project and participates in many activities within the project including, most notably, the development of open solutions for optimal EV system design and operation, scenario and use case development, component testing and validation in IREC's SmartLab, support for the Spanish demo and project management. IREC is a publicly funded institution created in 2009 based in Barcelona and Tarragona that conducts research and innovation over a wide range of disciplines within the science and technology energy field. IREC contributes to sustainability by developing technological solutions, promoting scientific and technological know-how related to clean energy and its efficient use as well transferring solutions and expertise to market actors. Activities include regional, national and international projects as well as direct cooperation with leading industrial partners. The institute supports the promotion of renewable energy technologies and assists political decision-makers. IREC belongs to the CERCA and TECNIO networks of research and technologic centres of the Generalitat of Catalunya as well as EERA Joint Programmes on Smart Grids and Smart Cities to name a few.


Q6: What are your expectations with the flow project?

R6: We expect to push the deployment of EVs by providing users and operators with additional benefits and values that promote the valorization of the built-in flexibility of EV via both smart charging and bi-directional charging. We expect that the technologies and solutions developed and demonstrated will support this, provide confidence and contribute to the decarbonisation of transport and economy. This is most evident through the development and deployment of innovative technologies in the demos and testbeds. By bringing together the research and academia with industry, the goal is to address current challenges hindering broader adoption of EVs, validate these solutions against user requirements, and pave the way for large-scale deployment in the project demos.


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Dr. Josh Eichman

Josh Eichman is the group lead for Energy Systems Analytics at the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research (IREC) in Barcelona. His group focuses on better understanding and optimising the use of current and emerging energy technologies to support the clean energy transition. This includes activities in energy systems integration, energy economics, social and regulatory impact assessment, LCA and Sustainability. Prior to his position at IREC, Josh was an adjunct professor at Stanford University in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and a senior researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.