Scalability Is a Leading Challenge Facing the EV Charging Ecosystem Today
Over the next few years, as automakers produce increasing numbers of EV models for consumer and fleet adoption, the EV charging ecosystem will need to scale accordingly to meet demand. Speaking from the main stage at the Hubject Intercharge Network Conference 2021 in Berlin, Driivz’s Product Director, Oren Halevy, told the audience that achieving this scalability is a leading challenge facing the EV charging industry today.
In making his remarks, Oren drew from Driivz’s extensive experience with large-scale network deployments numbering tens of thousands of chargers. Here are some top considerations from his presentation on how EV charging service providers (EVSPs) and other ecosystem players can realize business flexibility, operational excellence, proven scalability, and more.
Exponential EV Market Growth
Scalability is a leading challenge facing the EV charging industry today. The EV charging infrastructure needs to accommodate exponential market growth and a wide range of charging use-cases, which means EVSPs must be able to up-scale their networks while broadening their offerings and providing a seamless charging experience to drivers. This will require a back-end system that can increase charger availability by remotely analyzing problems and fixing them.
That same system should include flexible billing options to support growth and new business models. Every type of charging location – homes, multiple dwelling units, workplaces, commercial and industrial sites, gas stations, retail sites, municipalities, and public charging – has its own requirements. With a flexible back-end system that also supports open standards for grid and intra-network connectivity and APIs for integrating with legacy applications, EVSPs can support multiple types of locations and business models.
A Word About EV Charger Uptime
The worst driver experience begins with pulling up to a non-functioning charger. A physically damaged charger of course requires a site visit to fix. Chargers can also fault for software-related reasons. In that case, EVSPs can provide a better driver experience with a back-end system that can communicate with chargers, detect and diagnose problems in real time, and enable remote actions to return the charger to a functioning state. Even better is a system with “self-healing” capabilities that handles these tasks through automation.
Multiple Platform Implementation Options
When choosing an EV charging platform, operators may face a range of challenges, from resource limitations within their IT operations and the need to support chargers from multiple vendors to integrating networks from acquired companies and pressures for rapid time to market. The answer lies in a platform that supports flexible implementation options so you can “buy some, develop some, expand as you grow” as your needs dictate.
Out-of-the-box solutions can support speed to market requirements and at the same time enable future growth by letting you buy only the modules you need. The system should be configurable to meet your business requirements, such as supporting multiple countries and their different languages, tax and billing requirements. It should be customizable so your own brand can shine. And it should support your own applications and custom development, either on the platform itself or via API services to existing apps.
Addressing the EV Fleet Market
Electric fleets – buses, taxis, delivery vehicles – are experiencing rapid growth because electrification offers fleet owners fast return on investment and enables them to meet sustainability goals. They also represent a significant market for EVSPs that can meet owner requirements, most significant of which is the ability to manage energy at the depot to ensure that vehicles will all be charged within the allotted time and at the lowest cost. Depots may even have their own micro-grids with renewable energy sources and battery storage that need to be managed as well as energy coming from the grid.
Other requirements specific to EV fleet operators include providing drivers the ability to reserve chargers and adjust if the driver is late; managing facility parking lot chargers; supporting “fuel” cards and roaming for charging in-transit; and supporting at-home charging for fleet vehicles that go home with their drivers at night. The benefits for fleet managers include integration of charging into a seamless vehicle journey, a controlled and stable charging environment, optimized energy management, improved utilization, and reduced TCO.
Wrapping Things Up: Addressing Grid Challenges with Energy Management
With the exponential growth of EVs and their power requirements for charging, it’s inevitable that grid operators will have to deal with site-level limitations. The larger challenge is to find ways to flatten the demand curve, so that more consumption takes place at off-peak times – effectively lowering the peak load that utilities must meet. This can be accomplished in part by spot pricing or time-based pricing on the part of utilities to encourage off-peak consumption (and discourage peak consumption).
EVSPs can take advantage of these utility incentives if the back-end system supports smart EV charging and smart energy management. Driivz also believes that one solution to meeting EV energy requirements is through Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) opportunities, where EVs not in use sell stored power back to the grid via two-way connections. In this way we can transform the EV charging energy challenge into a solution to a bigger problem by using EVs as a balancing tool for the grid.