By Maria Guerra, Contributing Editor
It seems like every major automotive brand is entering the electric vehicle (EV) market. Some countries are even planning to abandon fossil-fuel cars completely. According to Bloomberg, China will soon set a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles. This move is expected to produce a significant amount of investment around the infrastructure surrounding EVs, including batteries and chargers. The Chinese government is still working on a date, but it is estimated that it will follow the UK and France by setting a deadline of 2040 for both diesel-powered and gas-powered autos. Recognizing the business potential and benefits of EVs, companies and governmental organizations across the globe are working on developing and expanding the much-needed EV infrastructure. Here are two of the latest applications and their accompanying solutions:
A Helsinki-based company called Parking Energy is touting an EV charging system for residential and commercial buildings that it claims is scalable and cost-effective (Fig. 1). Parking Energy’s solution separates EV chargers from cabling and other electrical infrastructure improvements, which are long-term investments in stable technology. Building EV-readiness for a whole parking garage begins by upgrading the electrical distribution center if needed. Cabling is then brought to every parking spot via the Quick Connectors. After this one-time investment, the parking area is ready for the rapid installation of EV chargers of various types, thereby fitting the particular needs of the tenants. The solution can be installed in both new and old properties with indoor and outdoor parking.
The system enables up to 44 kW output per Quick Connector. Parking users can choose a charging unit depending of their own needs; these range from 3.7 to 22 kW. The system will enable all future charging technologies, such as inductive and vehicle-to-grid charging. All chargers are installed with the same one-minute process. The chargers are sold as a service, which makes it easy to change the composition and number of chargers.
The first system using this technology has been installed in the headquarters of a leading pension insurance company, which has 238 parking spaces ready for EV charging. The property has multiple tenants, whose charging needs are met by Parking Energy charging service. This reduces the need for the property owner to invest time or money into the process.
According to Jiri Räsänen, Parking Energy’s CEO, “This is more than just introducing new charging equipment to the market. This is an open technology platform, which any EV charger manufacturer, charging operator, or car manufacturer can utilize from now on. It’s like the USB port for electric vehicle chargers, enabling compatibility throughout the industry. This will speed up the adoption of electric vehicles on a global scale.”
Gas Stations and Rest Stops
The Royal Dutch Oil Company, Shell, is now offering charging solutions in the EV market. Shell began by rolling out EV fast chargers at three Shell gas stations near London and in northern England (Fig. 2). Shell’s charging points are 50-kW dc rapid chargers. They are able to charge an empty battery to 80% of its capacity within 30 minutes. The fast chargers are designed to be compatible with most vehicles. They provide connections for combined charging system (CCS), Chademo, and AC Type 2 (43 kW).
As noted by Jane Lindsay-Green, Shell’s UK future fuels manager, “Shell believes electric vehicles will form a material part of the transport network going forward.” Shell is not the only oil company entering the charging market; BP is in talks with EV manufacturers to partner to offer EV chargers at gas stations. Shell is also looking to provide Tesla adapters in the near future at all Shell Recharge locations.
Meanwhile, at the last food-service technology conference and trade show (FSTEC), Tesla’s CTO Jeffrey Brian Straubel talked about the possibility of having Tesla superchargers at rest stops. Straubel says, “People are coming and spending 20 to 30 minutes at these stops. They want to eat, they want to have a cup of coffee, and they want to use the bathroom.” Tesla superchargers are already found in some Ruby Tuesday restaurants to enable free long-distance travel for drivers. The idea of having superchargers at rest-stops sounds like the next logical step to give EV drivers a better experience on the roads.
Highway rest stops—together with gas stations—also are being targeted by ABB, which just launched its new High Power Charge system at the Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exhibition (EVS30) in Stuttgart (Fig. 3). The charger boasts a 375-A-output single power cabinet, which can charge a 400-V car at full 150 kW continuously. The addition of the Dynamic DC power-sharing technology allows a two-power-cabinet charging system, which can simultaneously charge a couple of EVs with up to 350 kW and 500 A. This approach optimizes both the available grid connection and the power delivery to the two vehicles.
Because EV charger stations are critical to enabling the growth of electric vehicle sales, this market is expected to rise steeply. We are seeing a wide range of possibilities in terms of solutions, business cases, user scenarios, and more. It’s amazing to think that a decade ago, nobody imagined having EV chargers at gas stations.