9 December 2020

STAGE | Operations and Maintenance

TECHNOLOGIES | Electric Vehicles (EV); Charging technologies; AI and applications for demand assessment

SUMMARY

Many governments are supporting measures to encourage the uptake of Electric Vehicles (EVs) as they can contribute to a wide range of transport policy goals, including improvements in air quality and noise pollution. Governments have an important role in leading the pathway towards a zero-greenhouse gas emission target (see also the Transition to Electric Vehicle Transport Networks use case).

An increasing number of EVs on roads will require corresponding charging infrastructure in line with that growth: transport authorities have a crucial role to play in ensuring this need is met.  This includes installing charge points, partnering with charge point operators to gain additional investment, and updating planning policies to ensure new developments include charge points and infrastructure.Current and prospective EV drivers must be able to easily locate and access charging infrastructure that is affordable, reliable, convenient and secure.

The electric charging infrastructure must be set up in a way that considers power rating, connector type, cabling requirements and vehicle specification. There are three types of electric charging infrastructure:

  • Rapid chargers are the fastest way to charge an EV and are mainly DC charging; they can charge at 100 kW – often 150 kW – and up to 350 kW. They can usually charge an EV in 2 hours.
  • Fast chargers provide power from 7 kW to 22 kW, which typically fully charge an EV in 3-4 hours.
  • Slow chargers (3 kW to 6 kW) are used for overnight charging, usually taking between 8-12 hours.

EVs are an alternative to traditional petroleum-based vehicles and a shift towards them is taking place in response to the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. With increasing numbers of EVs on the road, the availability of electric charging infrastructure is still very limited compare to the number of petrol stations. To ensure the availability of the adequate electric charging infrastructure for EVs, the existing infrastructure (stations, carparks, etc.) can be upgraded to include electric chargers. For new infrastructure, electric charging facilities can be included as a part of the infrastructure.

Key mechanisms to plan, design, develop and operate the electric charging infrastructure should focus on:

  • Planning the location of charge points according to the demand and adapt parking policies for EV
  • Minimising the cost of infrastructure works and grid connections for charging infrastructure
  • Procuring electric vehicle charging infrastructure with public funds but also with private sector investment
  • Integrating EV charge points into national and local planning policies for new developments.

Governments will need to be adaptive in their planning for electric vehicle implementation and development of the supporting infrastructure. The requirements for which will vary by country in response to the local electric vehicle uptake rate and the ongoing and rapid development of electric vehicle and charging technologies. Well planned and implemented charging infrastructure will provide benefits to the wider electricity grid via Vehicle to Grid (V2G) technology in which electric vehicles connected to the grid can act collectively like a Virtual Power Plant (see Virtual Power Plant use case). Where there is high electricity demand, the energy contained within the electric vehicles can be discharged to the wider grid. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can assist in adjusting this charging demand by monitoring and coordinating availability. In addition, AI can stabilize the power grid by detecting anomalies in generation, consumption, or transmission in near real time, and then develop suitable solutions in response.

The key outcome expected by the introduction of relevant, well-planned electric charging infrastructure is to encourage sales of electric cars (up to achieve 100% of new sales by 2035 in the UK) and to increase the rate of reduction of emissions from the transport sector. In the long term, EVs and their charging infrastructure are key elements of a shared economy of transport and energy, making local resources more efficiently created and distributed.

VALUE CREATED

Improving efficiency and reducing costs:

  • Reduce operational and maintenance costs for the operator compared to petrol stations. The operator does not need to install large fuel tanks at depots, and have those tanks refilled frequently. Equally, vehicles do not need to undertake dead-running trips back to the depot to refill their tanks. Where fuel requires centralised and discrete refill stations, the electricity network is connected and can be accessed from multiple locations. Charging infrastructure can be roadside, easily scaled up, more easily placed along transport routes and in more built-up areas.

Enhancing economic, social and environmental value:

  • Contribute to reducing greenhouse gases emissions and improve air quality particularly when coupled with renewable energy sources.
  • Contribute to improving the accessibility for end users to charging points as they will be available in more locations (carpark, depot, warehouse, etc.), unlike petrol stations which require larger physical areas, and are spread over urban areas.
  • Increase uptake of EVs for private vehicles as users will perceive better and more widespread access to essential charging infrastructure. This will have further environmental benefits as more people move away from vehicles with internal combustion engines.

POLICY TOOLS AND LEVERS

Legislation and regulation: Governments can develop requirements for building and parking regulations for EVs. London, for example, requires new residential developments to have active charge points for EVs in 20% of parking spaces[2]. Government support must be extended to stimulate growth by modifying vehicle emission standards and establishing national targets for EV uptake: they should evaluate the performance of the charging strategies, as controlled charging will demonstrate advantages in mitigating the peak from EV charging and reducing power generation costs. Policy/tax incentives can be implemented coherently across sectors to drive the necessary innovation, market development and user uptake of low-carbon technologies, in order to positively influence societal change.

Effective institutions: The energy and transport sectors should collaborate to ensure the right development and availability of the electric charging infrastructure for EV users. Clear leadership is needed in the government in partnership with businesses and communities. It must be a whole of government approach (not only the energy and environment departments).

Transition of workforce capabilities: Electric charging infrastructure economists and modellers would need to work on developing the right electric charging infrastructure, from a government perspective, to help set the performance requirements of the electric grid. Additionally, power suppliers should be involved in the development of electric charging solutions and their integration into infrastructure to ensure the continuous availability of the power supply.

Funding and financing: Implementation of the technology can be in both public and private sectors. Investment should come from both sectors. Governments are currently investing in EVs by providing financial incentives to EV owners (through taxes), providing grant programs for private sector investment, and investing in EVs as part of the government vehicle fleet (See also the Transition to Electric Vehicle Transport Networks Use Case).

Procurement and contract management: The implementation of the charging technology will be different for each location in response to the demand and electric supply of the area. Authorities must set criteria to choose operators and suppliers who meet the regulations and demand requirements, as well as the charging performance: they should set outcome-based contract terms.

 

 

RISKS AND MITIGATIONS

Implementation risk

Risk: To power the growing number of electric vehicles, additional electricity sources will be required. The cost to invest in this infrastructure could be high, and the source may not be sustainable in the long term. Therefore, the initial investment in charging infrastructure would not deliver long term sustainability benefits and new electricity sources may then need to be developed.

Mitigation: Planning strategies should be tailored to specific projects in line with local conditions and requirements. Governments should focus on assessing the origin of the electricity, to make sure it is ‘clean’ and sustainable over the long-term. They can also promote initiatives such as accreditation for charger installation, charger rebates, and building codes to make new constructions EV-compliant, and regulations for utilities to assist in providing charging infrastructure.

Social risk

Risk: Users may be reluctant to shift to EVs due to the perceived unreliability of batteries. The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory has indicated that current batteries can last between 12 and 15 years in moderate climates (8 to 12 years in extreme climates).

Mitigation: Governments must promote the benefits of the technology as well as invest to foster the improvement of the technology to encourage the transition. Strategies such as tax incentives for EV charging can also be implemented.

Safety and (Cyber)security risk

Risk: Electric charging infrastructure poses safety risks related to the potentially dangerous voltages and human exposure to conductive parts. If demand and supply are not well managed, there is a risk of dangerous voltage and power failure. Such a failure could have a knock-on safety risk for assets in the wider electricity network.

Mitigation: This risk can be managed through the right modelling of the required power supply and through the implementation of safety precautions including providing isolation between both sides of the circuit, preventing contact with live parts etc.

Environmental risk

Risk: The energy used to produce the batteries of EVs and to support the power supply of the electric charging infrastructure, have often been controversial, as sourcing the minerals used for batteries, dismantling batteries which have deteriorated, and building and delivering vehicles to customers worldwide all involve substantial carbon emissions.

Mitigation: To achieve greater environmental benefits, durable, green energy should be used to produce the electricity supply for EV charging infrastructure, and a large shift away from motorised vehicles is the only way to fundamentally reduce transport's contribution to climate change.

 

EXAMPLES

Example: Volkswagen, Rwanda

Implementation: This pilot project is part of the Moving Rwanda Initiative. Volkswagen and Siemens will conduct an electric mobility feasibility project focussed on a fleet of 50 e-Golf vehicles and 15 charging stations.

Cost: Investment costs in the pilot are high. If the pilot proves its benefits, those costs would decrease over time.

Timeframe: Pilot launched in October 2019.

Example: Costa Rica

Implementation: Costa Rica has more than 100 electric car charging stations within its national territory.

Cost: A USD 50,000 fast charger has 8 years of economic life.

Timeframe: Costa Rica’s National Decarbonization Plan of 2017 aims to decarbonize the country’s economy by 2050. The country generated 98% of its power through renewable resources between 2013-2018.

Example: National Ultrafast, Australia

Implementation: Construction of at least 42 charging sites across Australia.

Cost: The total project cost was AUD 50.2 million.

Timeframe: The project started in May 2019.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Marc Boudier

SYSTRA

mboudier@systra.com

Transition to and operations of electric charging infrastructure

Subscribe