The new long-range EVs hitting the streets these days need electricity, and a lot of it. There is talk about how the grid will cope, and although it might not be as big a problem as some may think, there is nothing wrong with taking grid stability into account. Tesla has battery buffers at some (all?) of their supercharger sites, but up until now Tesla only offers up to 150 kW charge rates.
It is still a bit unclear what kind of battery buffers the new 350 kW networks popping up around Europe will have — based on hardware from the likes of ABB and Porsche — or if they can sustain full charge of multiple vehicles at a time. The Danish company Nerve Smart Systems claims they can.
The company is about to launch the first version of a new type of battery high power charger that support 350 kW sustained charging without overloading the power grid.
The company calls its battery buffer solution Nerve Switch, and the key advantage is that the connection to the grid can be of a lower standard and thus much cheaper than it would otherwise be, making the solution interesting for service stations, logistics centers, shopping malls, hotels, airports and other service providers wishing to offer their customers a quick charge of their electric vehicles.
I think it is very likely that 350 kW will be a sensible standard for mainstream EVs. Charging your car at 350 kW translates to adding about 20 miles of range, every minute! Add to that the fact that you can walk away from your car and do other things while charging, or just take a quick 10-minute nap, before your next 200-mile stretch. On the Nerve Smart Systems website, CEO Jesper Boie Rasmussen explains:
“Most people talk about the range of electric vehicles, but in fact it’s the charging time that should worry future car owners when choosing between an electric and a conventional car. Towards 2020, the charger market is expected to grow by 30 percent annually, and by 2030, 30 percent of the European car fleet will consist of electric vehicles. It provides a great perspective for our solution because it both ensures fast charging for the car owners and solves the capacity problems on the power grid, which occur when more and more people are charging.”
The company has received a €2.4 million grant from the EU Horizon 2020 program, and a total of €5.5 million has now been raised for the development of the patent-pending Nerve Switch battery solution.
The secret sauce behind solutions like this one is that electronic power control hardware is getting cheaper by the day. Remember the problems with the 2-speed transmission of the original Tesla Roadster? Before they had fixed the mechanics of that system, the electronics of the power delivery system to the motor had evolved beyond the need of multi-speed transmission. Today all conventional EVs have single-speed transmissions.
Switch mode power converters were invented in the 1970s and the frequency at which these components operate keep rising, resulting in higher efficiency and lesser heat waste.
Tesla has the advantage of having more experience in the field of EV efficiency and battery storage as in actually bringing products to market, but when power electronics get cheaper, everyone benefits. Tesla did not invent all these technologies, they just started the party. Now, everybody joins in, and this is going to be a long party!