Guide to EVs part three: EV infrastructure technology is quickly maturing
EV infrastructure is developing rapidly in the UK, reaching maturity in business models and technology.
EVs are increasing in availability and range, and with costs reducing, they are move from early-adopters to mass-market uptake. However, would-be EV buyers can be put-off by worries about where to charge their vehicle, or how to manage longer journeys.
There are four types of EV charging:
- Domestic: charging at home on a driveway or parked on the street
- Destination: charging at the office, supermarket, leisure centre
- En route: rapid charging similar to a petrol station
- Depots: charging fleets of vehicles in a depot, e.g. logistics
Domestic charging is relatively easy if you have off-street parking, but smart-charging is essential to ensure mass-market adoption can be reached safely at minimum cost. For those without a driveway, solutions such as on-street lamp-post charge points are being installed. Power from lamp-posts is constrained, and they will not always be in suitable locations, so en route and destination charging will be essential for households without off-street parking.
Destination charging offers a potential win-win for drivers and car-park operators including supermarkets, leisure centres and offices. There are a set of revenue streams available for car-park operators, in addition to EV charging revenue that could ultimately reduce charging costs and improve convenience for drivers.
En route charging replicates the traditional petrol/diesel filling station – vehicles drive up and recharge as quickly as possible. For traditional vehicles this is the only way to fill up; but EVs can charge at home or at destinations. Hence, en route is particularly applicable for households without off-street parking, or where daily mileage increases, such as taxis. Rapid-chargers charge at 50kW (around three miles additional range for each minute charging), up to 350kW (increasing rates to 21 miles/minute or a 15 minute break for 4 hours of motorway driving).
Depots for buses, logistics, utilities and public services will all have to change significantly to support their fleet’s transition to EVs. With local authorities and transport operators targeting electric buses to clean up city-centre air quality and electric vans expected to become cost-comparative with traditional vans – electric vehicle depots will grow dramatically over the next few years.
Depot, destination and en route charging can increase electrical demand and this may bring challenges when connecting to the grid. To provide enough power, the local Distribution Network Operator (DNO) may use flexibility services or traditional network reinforcement, and national electricity regulations require that the customer requiring this reinforcement pay for a part of the costs. This could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds for enough power to charge 50 vehicles a day. Smart charging and energy storage are essential technologies to reduce costs of install but also to improve resilience and reliability, ensuring charging demands are met.
Authored by Jonathan Bassett, Technology and Innovation Consultant