CleanTechnica and EV charging leader GreenWay last year led a working group of EV charging leaders — EVBox, Fortum, the Norwegian EV Association, and approximately a dozen others — to create EV charging guidelines for cities. CleanTechnica Director and Chief Editor Zachary Shahan presented a 10 key tips included in the report at a conference in the UAE in January.
Before that part of the presentation, though, were highlights of another recent CleanTechnica report on EV charging. The state of EV charging report included insights into electric drivers and charging infrastructure today, which leads into EV charging needs.
A video of the presentation, the slides, and a summary of the presentation are both below.
Home Charging — Bulk of Charging is Done at Home
The bulk of EV charging till now (and surely going forward) is home charging. That’s the convenience, one of the great benefits, of electric vehicles — as you come home, you plug in and you’re good. You don’t have to go find charging. You don’t have to fill up at a gas station once a week. You don’t have to keep an eye on the gas meter. So, that is a benefit of EVs and that is where much charging is done, but not all charging.
The Early EV Driver & EV Charging Market
Yet again, CleanTechnica surveyed EVs drivers and soon-to-be EV drivers and found that, indeed, a lot of them have EV charging access at home. A lot of them live in single-family homes. In fact, 85% percent of the respondents were in single-family homes. This is the early market for electric vehicles.
Overall, 65% of people in the US own their homes and 37% of people rent. Generally speaking, the 37% who rent are much less likely to have home charging access, but even many of those who own their home may live in condos with no home charging.
The challenge for charging station leaders is that if they are building expensive fast-charging stations, and EV drivers seldom need fast charging, and there still aren’t large numbers of EV drivers on the road, it can be hard to make a profit on the business. However, if you want to be a leader, you have to go in early and eat cash for a while.
Critical Second-Tier Charging Stations — Quick Charging or Semi-Quick Charging at Shopping Centers, Work, Other Destinations
You’re much less likely to put an EV charging station in at home you’re renting. You can, especially if you get a portable EV station that you can take with you. Regardless, since a lot of people also live in multi-family homes, there is a need for a quick charging or semi-quick charging at shopping centers, at workplaces, or at other destinations. This is the critical second-tier charging component necessary to enable convenient EV charging for basically everybody.
Zach tells his own home charging story: “I live in a three-story block with a parking garage and I can’t find the right person at the parking garage to talk to in order to put in [a charging station]. I picked a parking space between 3 walls so I could easily get an electrical outlet and charging station in. But I can’t get through to the right person. So, right now, we rely on charging stations at an office park and at a shopping center down the street.”
Third Component — Long Distance Charging
There’s a third component to EV charging — charging on long-distance trips. Long-distant trips need not simply fast charging, but super-fast charging. That means something over 100 kW. As noted above, this is a hard business model. If people only need fast charging 3% of the time, how do you make a business model of expensive high-powered fast-charging stations?
Some companies are leading in this space, though, because they see that the market is about to change rapidly as EVs hit an inflection point. And just because it’s needed.
The quicker we can solve these EV charging bottlenecks, the better, because this market is quite limited. Recent surveys found 32% of EV drivers had solar power, home rooftop solar. The actual percentage of the population that has rooftop solar is more like 1%. It is not typical. EV drivers currently aren’t typical. They are people with income, with houses, who put solar on their roofs. This is the market today, but this is not going to be the market tomorrow.
Leaders in the EV charging market will be rewarded, though, just as leaders in the mobile phone sector and the smartphone sector have been rewarded. It’s going to be one of those sectors where you think it’s going to be 20 years out, but it’s actually going to be 3–5 years out.
The Benefits of Smart Charging
There’s a tendency to say let’s get cheaper “dumb” charging, but there are so many benefits to smart charging that dumb/unconnected charging doesn’t seem sensible in the long run.
The Next Electric Car — People Want Range
When surveyed about which electric car people will get next and how much range it will have, it was clear that people want cars with a lot of range, and are going to get them. Tesla has three models with long range and most respondents were planning to get a Tesla next. The next was Chevrolet with the Bolt, and the next was Nissan, which now has a 150 mile Leaf. The range is pulling people upward and it’s pulling in a whole new market of buyers as well.
The Power Needs of Fast Chargers & Energy Storage
The next thing is the power needs of fast chargers. The need for super-fast chargers is serious, but they pull a large amount of power all at once, which puts strain on the grid. We are just starting to see EV charging stations with stationary storage built in, which can protect them from high grid fees for quick usage. That also provides a value to the grid that possibly provides an economic source of revenue for EV chargers beyond just the customers. It is actually working with utilities. Energy storage providers will get paid by utilities to help balance the grid.
EV Charging Guidelines For Cities — 10 Tips
The second report about EV charging outlines guidelines for cities — it’s all about putting good policies into practice.
#1 — Be A Champion
We need a champions at every level. You need a champion at the level of big corporations like Engie, which see this as the future and are investing large amounts of money into it. You need champions at the small and medium enterprise startup level as well, champions that say, “hey, everybody says this is ridiculous to put EV charging stations all over the UAE. It’s not.” That’s key.
There is a need for leaders in the consumer awareness field, we need leaders in the regulatory field.
We need leaders at every step. And everyone reading this can be a leader in some way or another.
In your own circle, in your own work, you can break down barriers of awareness, and/or regulatory barriers.
#2 — Have A Plan!
If a city wants to help advance electric vehicles, it should develop an EV charging plan. The city should have a vision, a way to get there, and a way of evaluating the results along the way and recalibrating if necessary.
#3 — Charging Stations Need To Be Conspicuous & Ubiquitous
Charging stations need to be highly visible and all over the place.
Tesla does a wonderful job because you can easily spot its beautiful stations with bright red lights.
In our report, we get into details like colors, lighting, and scale. But the key is simply that charging stations be everything and the design be nice.
Zach told a story of a new neighborhood he was living in, that he was walking by an EV charging station for a year (going to the shopping center next to it), just a five-minute walk from home, and he never noticed the station.
Charging stations need to be highly visible. And not only is it about practicality, but stations are also a top marketing angle for EVs.
#4 — Atmosphere Matters A Lot
Make charging stations in nice places where it’s attractive to be charging. That pulls people to the station. That pulls people to electric vehicles.
#5 — Super Easy To Use & Extremely Reliable
This is no surprise. Charging stations have to be easy for consumers to use and extremely reliable so that they are working when people need to charge their cars.
#6 — Charging Stations Should Be Smart, Connected
We talked about that above a bit. Smart chargers allow drivers to see availability, see if the station is working, reserve a time to charge, pay for charging, and much more. You just have to go smart.
#7 — Cities Can Procure EVs
The total cost of ownership of EVs is amazing already. One of the most powerful and personally helpful things cities can do is buy electric vehicles themselves. Cities can procure them for fleets for all sorts of purposes and actually save money while driving EV growth and consumer adoption. Dubai has set a good example by procuring 50 Tesla EVs for taxi service, with a plan to raise that number to 200.
#8 — Put In Stations For Any Residents Who Ask For Them
This is a simple but highly effective policy. Amsterdam does this for people with on-street parking, and it’s highly effective.
“Here is my wife and my first daughter in Amsterdam, enjoying the first benefits of on-street parking. If you want a charging station on your street in Amsterdam, you just tell the city and they put it in”
#9 — Charging Stations Need To Have Many Ports, and/or A Reservation System
Without one or both of these things, EV drivers don’t know if a charging point is really going to be available at the station they are planning to charge at.
“You can’t have just 2, 3, 4 charging ports at a stations. Because when a driver goes to it, they have to know they have a port. If a port is down, if it’s blocked, that’s going to kill the market. So you have to have enough ports that you can rely on the charging stations.”
#10 — Multiple Charging Speeds
For long-distance travel, we need healthy networks of super-fast or ultra-fast charging stations. Without such stations, drivers just have to wait too long at stops on a road trip.
At destinations, we need fast chargers and “level 2” chargers. And at homes and workplaces, we need level 2 chargers.
For much more, get our free EV charging guidelines for cities report.