While carmakers are constantly improving electric vehicles, most eyes are turning to EV charging and its infrastructure, the crucial part of e-mobility that is still trailing behind.
The e-mobility revolution is coming fast.
Will it succeed or fail?
To make this great switch from petrol to electric cars, EV owners must be able to charge their vehicles conveniently and quickly.
For this, the world needs an efficient EV charging infrastructure.
To achieve this, we face quite a few challenges.
Table of contents
- What is the Electric Vehicle or EV Charging Infrastructure?
- EV Owners and Range Anxiety
- Home Charging will still be Nbr 1.
- How to Develop the EV Charging Infrastructure?
- The Lack of EV Charging Points
- How many Charging Stations do we need?
- Can the Electric Grid Support the EV Revolution?
- Smart EV Charging Management to the Rescue
- Vehicle To Grid (V2G) Technology
- About Tridens Smart EV Charge Software
What is the Electric Vehicle or EV Charging Infrastructure?
The electric vehicle or short EV charging infrastructure includes all infrastructure and Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) required to deliver energy and charge electric vehicles.
The central point is the charging station, also called an EV Charging Point or EV Charger. A charging point is connected to the electric grid, consisting of power generation, high-voltage transmission to load centers, and distribution to consumers, aka charging points.
An EV charging infrastructure should not be mistaken for a charging network, which is a term that describes a group of charging stations in an area managed by EV CPO or EMSP.
Two main challenges for future-ready EV charging infrastructure are building enough charging stations in the right places and having the electric grid to support its trouble-free operation.
The existing infrastructure can’t support the number of charging stations needed in the future, so smart EV charging software will play a crucial role in supporting the electric grid response to growing numbers of charging stations.
EV Owners and Range Anxiety
The main reason against electric vehicles that everybody uses is concern about recharging. The term used is EV range anxiety. It describes the fear of a car having insufficient energy storage to cover the planned distance to the intended destination.
As we already described in our blog on EV charging station solutions, it’s not the cars. EV users mostly have lousy experiences with electric vehicles because of problems with EV charging infrastructure.
So to eliminate range anxiety as the main reason against electric vehicles, the focus must be on building an appropriate and efficient EV charging infrastructure.
Home Charging will still be Nbr 1.
The USA and Europe research show that about 80% of daily driving is done over short distances. The average drive to work and back in Germany is 32 km long. It’s about the same everywhere, in the rest of the EU, other countries worldwide, and even in the USA.
Even if we double this number, with practically every electric car having an actual range of at least 100 kilometers, home charging can satisfy the needs of the vast majority of EV users.
With home charging and many workplaces also offering charging for employees, it would be simple to assume that installing a few chargers along highways would be enough to have an efficient EV charging infrastructure.
But thinking like this is, in reality, very wrong and discriminatory. Home charging goes hand in hand with higher-income people – homeowners. But what about all that don’t have a private parking space? Or a garage or easy access to a charger?
Home or work chargers are typically slow chargers useful only for charging overnight. If e-mobility wants to adapt fully, it’s crucial to focus on making the home and public charging more accessible to the general public, not homeowners.
For that, you must have a mix of home, workplace, and public charging, with public charging, also offering a chance of charging at the same low cost that homeowners get.
How to Develop the EV Charging Infrastructure?
It can take a long time to charge EVs!
That is why we can’t compare EV charging infrastructure and refueling “normal” ICE cars.
Charging EVs is different and requires a different mindset and geography of “refueling” electric vehicles.
Electric vehicles adoption will fully succeed when EV charging infrastructure meets the following criteria:
- all homeowners will have the possibility to install home chargers for charging their electric cars for daily use
- all workplaces will have EV chargers. This will ensure employees can easily recharge and drive to work and back with no range anxiety
- all people in residential areas will have access to public chargers where they can charge overnight at a low cost
- all places where people stay longer, like shopping centers, restaurants, or city centers, will enable drivers to charge an EV
- on all major routes, there will be a possibility for fast or super-fast charging for travelers on longer trips.
As seen above, there isn’t just one strategy for developing EV charging infrastructure or a single solution.
The development will go in different directions but with a single goal. That is the creation of an effective EV charging infrastructure with Smart EV Charging and Smart power grids.
The Lack of EV Charging Points
Home charging and workplace charging are two challenges that are pretty easy to solve. Charging stations must become affordable, and governments must offer subsidies or tax benefits. Then homeowners and companies will have no reason not to install EV chargers.
As explained in our blog on investing in EV charging and EV Charging business models, shopping centers, restaurants, and hotels will also recognize the added value EV chargers can bring in improving the customer experience. It is pretty reasonable to assume they will also increase the number of their EV charging points.
So for governments and industries, the main focus will be building more public charging stations or charging networks in areas where the general public can use them instead of home charging.
One way is to include charging stations in real estate development. We have already seen laws for mandatory charging stations in new developments being put in place.
According to various sources, most governments will step in this direction.
With the number of EVs rising, EV Charging is also becoming interesting for investors. Therefore new public networks are emerging everywhere. However, one thing that must be considered when planning! That is the current gap in charging station density between urban and rural areas.
The most likely solution for longer trips is to plan a trip using fast public chargers at restaurants and hotels. If that is not possible, drivers can use superchargers placed strategically along highways, mostly at existing gas stations.
How many Charging Stations do we need?
On the surface, it all looks pretty good for the e-mobility revolution!
According to recent Electric car sales statistics and statistics on the growth of public EV charging stations, the numbers are rising. But are they rising fast enough?
The homeowners and workplaces will build their charging stations. The different commercial businesses will also build them to attract more customers.
The gas stations will also install chargers to deal with the lower gasoline demand.
Governments will make founding plans with EV infrastructure bills to expand public charging networks.
So it looks like nothing can stand in the way of electric vehicle adoption.
As it usually happens, if we dive deeper under the surface, it’s not that simple, and some of the numbers that project how many charging stations we will need in the future are truly mind-blowing.
Numerous reports already show that the congestion around EV charging stations is bad in areas with high EV adoption. But it’s nothing compared to what we could see in the future.
The Public EV Charging Stations demand in Numbers
A US study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that to support 1000 EVs, 3,4 fast and 40 Level 2 charging stations are needed.
The Brattle Group is an economics consulting firm. They project that there could be 35 million EVs alone in the US by 2030. What is the number of public charging stations needed to support this? Close to 2 million public chargers. This means that 380 EV chargers must be installed daily over the next nine years!
The situation in Europe is even more alarming!
A study by EY-Eurelectric shows that by 2035 we could have 130 million electric vehicles on the streets of Europe. Consequently, we will need 65 million chargers to support them!
Around 85 percent will be installed in residential areas and 4 percent on public highways.
The newest European Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Masterplan shows that in the EU alone, up to 6,8 million public charging points will be required by 2030.
When looking at numbers from this point of view, we can quickly see that the current rate of EV charging infrastructure development is not nearly fast enough to support this growth of electric vehicles.
Can the Electric Grid Support the EV Revolution?
The hot debate when talking about the EV revolution is whether the existing electric grids can support this growth of electric vehicles?
The short answer is “not without investing in electric grid infrastructure.”
Smart EV Charging: Unlocking Its Full Potential
Charging stations, especially fast chargers, can consume large amounts of power. Therefore, the grid with transformers, substations, and transmission lines will need upgrades in many cases.
The Brattle Group concludes that by 2030 the US must invest around $75 to $125 billion to serve its 20 million EVs.
EY-Eurelectric states that the European power network can support about 100 million electric vehicles. At the same time, the projection is that by 2035, there will be 130 million EVs in the EU.
But who will pay for these upgrades? The simplest solution would be to increase the overall price of electricity. Still, it would also be a very unfair move since everybody would pay the cost of the “EV revolution.”
If the upgrades are calculated into the charging price, it will also be a step in the opposite direction. The higher charging cost will make switching from ICE to EVs less attractive.
So if not before, it’s clear now that developing the EV charging infrastructure and the whole EV revolution faces important challenges that need to be addressed.
Smart EV Charging Management to the Rescue
The key to making the power grid more stable is Smart EV Charging. It stands for intelligent management of EV charging that doesn’t destabilize the power grid or overload it.
If an electric vehicle is plugged into a standard charger, it will take the energy needed to charge from the grid until it’s fully charged. If all EV owners do that, let’s say in the evening, it will almost certainly overload the power network.
Smart charging management instead communicates with the grid (utility company), charging point operator (CPO), and car battery.
This communication enables optimized charging in terms of EV Grid balancing with peak shaving, EV charging load balancing, and dynamic EV Charging load management.
The result is that CPOs and utility providers can satisfy the energy demands without investing in the electric network’s installation or components.
Smart Charging in Praxis
Let’s illustrate it with a practical case. In a residential area, 100 users start to charge their electric cars in the evening. If they don’t have smart charging, they will all charge at full power until they all have a full battery. The charging will only happen in the first few hours of the night.
With smart charging, the users can set that they need the cars charged till 7 AM. The cloud-based smart EV charging station management system will automatically and in real-time distribute the charging power between the vehicles. It will do it according to peaks and lows in energy demand and the state of the electrical network.
All the cars will be fully charged in the morning without putting too much strain on the network.
In connection with the Electro Mobility Service Providers EV billing system, the users can select variable billing plans for charging.
If they need to charge quickly, they will pay more. However, if they use optimized smart charging, they can charge at a cheaper price.
Smart charging management answers critics who state that electric grids will need significant investments to adopt the EV revolution or face doomsday scenarios.
Vehicle To Grid (V2G) Technology
Electric vehicles have capable batteries. If we multiply this by the predicted more than 100 million EVs in the future, these batteries present a considerable power storage capability. Storage compatibility is crucial for future electrical power networks since renewable energy is extremely volatile and has many peaks and lows in production.
This is where a new concept of V2G (Vehicle To Grid) technology promises great potential and an opportunity for EVs to participate in helping balance the system.
It is a concept that predicts users will charge their cars when there is a lot of energy available and return it from the battery when the supply is low.
It’s a “charge cheap and sell expensive” concept, to put it very simply.
We discussed V2G technology, the concept, its potential, and users’ concerns in our blog on EV charging industry trends.
About Tridens Smart EV Charge Software
The future of electric vehicles and e-mobility is challenging, but we at Tridens are confident these challenges are solvable. That is why Tridens has developed Smart EV Charging software. It can stand up to these challenges and provide a bright future for the EV revolution.
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