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January 29, 2024

SynopLink: our newest product to improve onsite charging operations

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SynopLink: The IOT for DERs

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of our latest product: SynopLink, which will enable streamlined, automated and seamless management of local devices such as distributed energy resources (DERs) at onsite commercial EV fleet charging stations. The solution ensures site-level connectivity and maintains operational resilience even in the face of outages. Discover how this new system will address complex challenges in the commercial EV space, as well as enabling greater sustainability.

The challenge with DERs

As more commercial trucking companies make the switch to electric vehicles (EV), many have been building onsite DERs — that is, power generators, large-scale batteries, and solar arrays — to meet the enormous electricity demands of operating large fleets of heavy-duty EVs. 

While these onsite solutions ease the strain on the wider power grid, they are prone to faults and power outages if all local generators and batteries aren’t functioning optimally at all times. For example, if one or more batteries are at a lower state of charge during a peak vehicle charging period, the generators alone cannot handle the full load of all vehicle chargers. In this case, the entire microgrid site would shut down as a protection mechanism. To get the site up and running again requires personnel to go onsite to reset the microgrid manually. 

Adding to the challenge, these generators and batteries are not connected to the internet. They only 'speak' to a local network through a protocol called MODBUS which is ubiquitous for industrial machines to communicate with each other over a local network.

How Synop connects the unconnected

SynopLink provides a cellular-enabled local controller which is installed on existing DER devices. Our system integrates cloud-based technology and a local hardware interface to connect the microgrid to the internet. This ensures connectivity to the cloud for real-time two-way communication. Essentially, this enhances operational reliability by safeguarding against faults and site-wide shutdowns at the charging depot.

SynopLink automatically collects, analyzes, contextualizes and communicates MODBUS data from each onsite DER device in real-time. With this information, it adjusts the amount of power that EVs can pull from the microgrid, preventing vehicles from drawing more power than is currently available in onsite batteries. This prevents system overloads and eliminates the need for in-person manual resets of 'faulted out' microgrids, ultimately maximizing uptime.

Synop’s system regulates charging rates under specific conditions that are likely to provoke microgrid shut down, such as battery charge falling below 5%, a lack of communication from the battery for more than 10 seconds, and inaccurate or stale data transmission. Once these issues are resolved, SynopLink automatically removes the curtailment, allowing the site to resume full-capacity operations. This enables real-time control, fast-response decision making and advanced optimizations.

Overall, SynopLink ensures smooth and continuous operation of onsite charging stations for commercial fleets, even under suboptimal conditions. It gives fleet operators full control of all devices on the microgrid to manage energy use and prevent shutdowns. This will ultimately enable a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable commercial transport sector.

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