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EV Market

Have grid interconnections become a hurdle for EV charging projects?


November 11, 2021

Companies involved in the installation of electric vehicle charging stations are facing a challenge.

Similar to the installation of solar panels, EV charging points often need to be approved by local utility managers in order to connect to the grid.

And guess what? It isn’t always an easy or rapid process. In fact, the best laid plans for EV charging networks can be thwarted at the approval stage or horrendously slowed down while making the infrastructure ready.
The good news is - there are steps you can take to make it more likely you will gain approval, and speed up the process.

Unmanaged EV’s = Cost for EV Owners

If you’re responsible for a charging station project, you’ll know that the approximate calculation used is around $1,000 per connected kW. Therefore, installing 10 charging stations supplying 22kW, can lead to investments over $200k to $300k, even before purchasing any charging equipment.

This estimate is particularly true if the location has poor existing grid interconnections or was planned with connections that only supply buildings.

Another, sometimes more critical problem, is the time taken for local utility providers to build and commission new infrastructure to accommodate the new grid connections. Often, they will need to install new grid lines or transformers, leading to underground construction. Breaking ground requires consent from the city or local authorities, as well as lengthy bidding and procurement stages. This can stretch the overall construction time to one or two years.

Some projects have resulted in charging stations that are fully set up and ready-to-use, but EV owners have to wait for local bureaucratic processes to finish their course or grid commissioning to complete.

Overall, this state of affairs increasingly creates a hurdle for EV owners and charging providers, especially as we see more companies providing employee charging and swapping their company fleet from combustion to electric vehicles.

The following example shows an office site with seven charging stations with employee charging. The two DC fast chargers and five level 2 chargers are increasing the total peak (kW) by 50% during one day.

unmanaged electric vehicle charging without ampcontrol

Smart Charging — The Solution to Grid Connection Costs and Delays

Smart Charging technology reduces the investment cost in grid connections and avoids the possible delays associated with building new utility infrastructure, when planning new charging stations.

How does Smart Charging achieve this?

Smart Charging:

  • Identifies ideal charging profiles for each charging event
  • Takes into account the building load
  • Makes allowance for other EV charging events that have already started
  • Takes into account other available information and data (e.g. weather or traffic).

If you look at the example graph above, then compare it with the one below that applies Smart Charging, you can see that’s algorithm-based optimization has reduced the additional peak by 80%.

The optimization even took into account when and how long the electric vehicle remains connected for, and ensured that the vehicle is fully charged on subsequent charges.

Another major benefit for charging point operators is that with mature Smart Charging technology, it’s far easier to add extra charging stations later on. Therefore, operators get the quick win of avoiding grid connections, as well as longer-term savings when it comes to extending the EV charging infrastructure.

smart charging electric vehicle charging with ampcontrol

Planning and Implementing Smart Charging Technology

The first step towards applying Smart Charging technology is to discuss the possibility with your local utility company or supplier. If you get them on board right at the beginning, things are likely to run smoother later on.

The next step is to simulate or calculate the achievable peak energy usage reduction when Smart Charging is applied. This process is similar to the one shown above, where two graphs are generated to show the difference.

Next week, we’ll show how the charging point operator can actively integrate the EV driver in the Smart Charging tool, to ensure high customer satisfaction and a seamless charging experience. Follow us here to automatically receive the next article.

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