Plug-in vehicles represent over 20% of new car sales, and this trend is only going to accelerate. In addition, all-electric vans are becoming more widely adopted, typically with bigger battery packs than cars, which brings its own unique demands on charging infrastructure for a fleet scenario. The first fully electric trucks are also now available from traditional OEMs like Volvo Trucks and Scania, as well as challenger brands like Tevva, raising the bar once again in terms of charging needs.
It is easy to see that the transition to EV will bring incrementally increasing demands for EV charging infrastructure, both in terms of more charging points and also the need for a quick turn-around of vehicles that only rapid charging can provide. In the first phase of EV adoption, almost all organisations required only a handful of EV chargers, meaning most sites could handle the extra energy requirements.
However, we are now at a pinch point in our EV transition, where sites require many more chargers, including chargers with higher capabilities. Currently, supply constraints are restricting the ability to meet demand.
Fundamentally, EV charging at scale creates spikes in power demand, on sites with limited capacity. There are currently three options to address this:
1. Load balancing
Smart chargers can be networked to ensure that all vehicles plugged into that network will still receive some charge, albeit much more slowly than expected. For example, if four EVs are connected to 7kW charging points, but there is only 10kW of power available, the EVs will charge at 2.5kW each. In this way they still all receive a fair share of the available energy but are charging at a much-reduced rate.
Whilst load balancing provides a low-cost, interim solution, it does have a major drawback. Vehicles do not charge at the expected rate, which can create problems for drivers who expect a certain percentage of battery power to be replenished within a given time frame.