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Fleets

Planning EV Fleet Charging: How to Overcome Grid Constraints When Installing Electric Truck Depots?

By

Joachim Lohse

December 18, 2023

Trucks and Logistic Centers Need Fast Charging Stations

In the rapidly evolving landscape of electric trucks, the need for efficient and reliable charging infrastructure is paramount. Electric trucks equipped with large batteries typically rely on fast charging stations (DCFC) to minimize downtime and keep operations running smoothly. For businesses engaged in middle-mile logistics, where trucks operate in multiple shifts per day, the demand for charging cycles becomes even more pronounced. Ports, as bustling hubs of activity, exemplify the continuous operation of electric trucks from dawn to dusk. 

To establish a dependable charging infrastructure at your truck depot, ensuring a high uptime of chargers is crucial. The linchpin for achieving fast charging and reliability lies in the grid capacity at your site. To estimate the required grid capacity, it's imperative to assess the operational demands of your electric truck fleet, taking into consideration factors such as charging frequency and the specific energy needs of your vehicles. By addressing grid capacity needs strategically, businesses can pave the way for a seamless transition to electric truck fleets while optimizing overall operational efficiency.

Insufficient Grid Capacity is a Major Hurdle for EV Trucks

Understanding and managing grid capacity is a critical aspect of transitioning to electric fleets. Grid capacity defines the available power at a fleet site and can range from around 100 Kilowatts (kW) to multiple Megawatts (MW). However, this power is constrained by the utility, which supplies electricity through complex networks of cables and transmission lines. 

Expanding capacity often involves complicated grid projects that can cost several million dollars, require months or even years to complete, and, in some cases, may not be feasible. This limitation on grid capacity emerges as an essential challenge for distribution centers, warehouses, and ports, particularly as they seek to purchase a growing number of electric trucks and deploy numerous DCFCs. The challenge is substantial, even for facilities with just a handful of electric trucks, underscoring the need for strategic planning and infrastructure upgrades, especially for older sites grappling with these emerging demands.

How Do We Overcome Grid Constraints for Electric Fleet Charging Depots?

Overcoming grid constraints is a difficult problem for fleet operators. When establishing EV charging sites, careful consideration of the existing grid infrastructure and utilization is essential (e.g., how much power is already used by buildings, cooling houses, etc.). Since, in most cases, waiting for grid upgrades is not an option for logistic centers, a strategic solution lies in the concept of oversubscription. By installing more chargers than the grid can fully support, projects can move forward without waiting for utilities to upgrade the infrastructure. 

While oversubscription may limit the simultaneous use of all chargers at maximum capacity, effective load management becomes instrumental in optimizing the charging of your trucks. For instance, an EV depot could install 10 DC chargers with 200 kW each. But instead of having a 2 MW grid connection, you use a 1 MW grid connection. This would reduce the required capacity by 50%. Even if your site doesn’t have 1 MW and would need an upgrade, it is typically faster to add a smaller additional capacity to the existing connection.

Use Certified Load Management to Balance the Power

When oversubscribing a grid connection, you’ll need a very reliable load management system or energy management for your EV chargers. This means, a software with algorithms connects to your charging stations and dynamically balances the power output.

For safe and reliable load management, you can select a provider that is certified for UL 60730-1. This certification is specifically focused on automatic electrical controls for electric applications. UL 60730-1 for EV charging ensures that the load management (automatic controls) meets high safety criteria. The standard covers a broad spectrum of devices, emphasizing their safe and reliable operation. 

Ampcontrol is the first-ever software company to be recognized with the UL 60730-1 certification for EV chargers (AC and DC). With the UL 60730-1 certification, EV fleet operators can use Ampcontrol’s software to oversubscribe breakers, transformers, and beyond, and install more chargers without grid upgrades.

To learn more about how fleets are optimizing their charging management, check out our case study on WattEV using Ampcontrol at its Port of Long Beach electric trucking sites. Ihor Starepravo, Head of Software at WattEV says, “We believe Ampcontrol's innovative AI-driven platform offers the tools we need to optimize and monitor our EV charge points”.

Read UL Certification Announcement
Tags:
EV fleet charging grid constraints oversubscription
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