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Partner spotlight: Simon Kendrew - EV Solutions at Equans

We spoke to Simon Kendrew, Marketing and Commercial Director – EV Solutions at Equans about some of the key challenges organisations are facing.


As businesses move from early-stage deployment of electric vehicles to mass adoption, many are finding their plans constrained by electricity supply issues. We spoke to Simon Kendrew, Marketing and Commercial Director – EV Solutions at Equans about some of the key challenges organisations are facing when it comes to rolling out EV charging at scale.

Equans owns and operates the GeniePoint network – the third-largest rapid electric vehicle charging network in the UK. The network offers public charging, partnering with names such as Morrisons and Whitbread. The company also supports businesses with workplace and fleet charging solutions operating over 3,000 EV chargers at customers’ offices, depots and sites across the UK.

Growth of the EV charging market

“The uptake of electric vehicles continues to grow at a rapid pace, driven by the availability of vehicles and ongoing investment, and we’re seeing the most significant growth in the business market. Over 50% of new cars coming onto the market are through business fleets and what’s important to this market is that charging needs to fit seamlessly into their operations. Having the right infrastructure in place is essential.

The market started off with businesses installing small numbers of charge points, starting slowly as they tested the feasibility of electric vehicles. That meant that their current electrical supply could cope with just a few vehicles charging. The phase we’re now entering, for cars and commercial vehicles, is larger installations, with many more vehicles charging at once.

As businesses move towards commercial electric vehicles, the electrical demand to charge will increase. And the infrastructure is critical – companies need to get those vehicles charged and back onto the road. The ability to bring other energy innovations, such as battery storage, into a depot environment is critical and will become more so as the market grows.

Simon Kendrew , Marketing and Commercial Director – EV Solutions at Equans

Energy requirements

“When planning any charging scheme, it all starts with energy. From a cost perspective, the grid connections and the physical groundwork required to get the energy to the charge points can be a significant part of the project cost – sometimes over 50% of overall costs.

That’s true on the public charging networks with higher power chargers but also true of private networks where the available power is a critical consideration in the location and type of charge points.

We’ve found many businesses have a strong motivation to transition to electric, to meet organisational objectives and support their sustainability credentials. However, the cost of energy upgrades and energy works haven’t been fully understood. Once you get into a requirement for a substation, the costs really escalate even further. There have been projects, particularly on the commercial side, that have not progressed because of the cost of the energy works.

Another huge challenge we’re facing is in rural areas. There is typically a correlation between grid availability and charger availability in more remote areas. This is where we would see opportunities for more innovative energy solutions, a mixture of energy generation and storage capability on sites to help manage these grid issues.”


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The options

“As the market evolves, customers need more charge points, and the more chargers on site, the more demand for power. There are, of course, load-balancing solutions but you get to a point where you need the charger to be able to dispense a reasonable amount of energy to charge the cars within a limited timeframe. Load balancing can’t support that.

Grid upgrades or a new substation is the next step for a company. But it isn’t just the cost that can be prohibitive, it’s also the timescales and complexities. We’ve seen projects that extend significantly due to the need for additional energy works.

This is where a battery as a potential solution for the customer certainly comes into play.”

Decentralisation and local energy management

“We’re at a point now where organisations are looking for more innovative energy management solutions. Some exciting changes are on the horizon with energy systems becoming much more integrated and dynamic.

Currently, vehicles are largely a drain on the grid but we’re seeing an increased focus on smart charging, bi-directional charging and measures that can reduce the impact of charging. Smart charging regulations were introduced in 2022  around defaulting workplace chargers to off-peak time settings and building in a randomised delay, to flatten potential peaks. Where I believe this will go in future will be the ability to harness more dynamic grid signals to enable vehicles to become part of a dynamic grid management platform.

Rising energy prices have also led to more business awareness in managing their energy efficiently. We’re seeing more companies investing in on-site energy generation as a step towards self-sufficiency.

The problem with this is that electricity is often not needed at the time of generation. When it’s sunny, it doesn’t mean that everyone will want to charge their car, so energy storage is a necessary part of the jigsaw.

Simon Kendrew , Marketing and Commercial Director – EV Solutions at Equans

Another key benefit of battery storage is that although the installation of storage comes at a cost, it also provides an opportunity to build revenue by providing grid services – that’s the future we’re heading towards where batteries, charging and generation all become part of a dynamic energy solution.

The electrification of transport enables much more dynamic management of energy, and it’s not just one way. It’s bi-directional: with generation and storage assets all part of the solution.”

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