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ELECTRIC TRANSPORT FEATURE The charging challenge


Electric vehicles (EVs) have been a buzzword and the darling topic at conferences and industry events for a while, but as we enter this new decade there are increasing signs that we’re reaching a turning point, says Philip Valarino, EV lead at EDF


automatically controlling the flow of energy depending on demand. This system not only helps to manage capacity for the premises, but it also protects the local grid, mitigating against the risk of overloading when multiple cars are charging. If one is close to hitting capacity and


T


he number of EVs on the road is growing at a rapid pace and many


organisations are beginning to commit to the movement. This follows a trend among consumers


which has seen the registration of EVs increase by 900 per cent in four years, between 2014 and 2018. Driving fleets towards electrification is an essential part of reaching net zero carbon emissions, as the transportation sector is currently the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. Companies such as Royal Mail Group have recently announced plans to introduce more EVs into their fleets, and the government has brought forward the ban on petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035. This all puts pressure on companies to act, meaning we will see demand for charging infrastructure increase. Together this poses a new challenge for


energy managers, as they look at how their infrastructure can support this change. Replacing all the UK’s petrol and diesel cars with EVs would create huge new demand for power, as much as a 30 per cent increase from today’s peak demand according to National Grid (Future Energy Scenarios 2018). For individual energy managers, it is crucial to ensure that they have the available network capacity on their site to match their organisation’s commitments to de-carbonise its transport, as well as the changing habits of employees who are increasingly adopting EVs and expecting to be able to charge them at work. Energy managers can do a number of things to prepare for any extra capacity


requirements, based on the number of vehicles and charging points needed. First and foremost, it’s imperative that energy managers engage with stakeholders across the organisation to ensure there is joined up thinking across the business around future vehicle electrification. Those who look after fleets, HR and employee engagement, as well as finance and sustainability personnel will all need to work together with energy and facilities managers in order to deliver workable plans around EV infrastructure deployment. As a start, any plan to introduce multiple


charge points should include a load management system. This ensures that electricity is evenly distributed to a group of EVs that need to be charged at the same time, regulating the charging patterns of vehicles to ensure capacity is never breached, whilst protecting the existing site infrastructure from outages caused by diverting power to the EVs. The technology is capable of managing


the levels of charge that each plugged in vehicle receives, or can even switch the charge off completely. While this failsafe is extremely beneficial, and gives energy managers the confidence that capacity limits won’t be breached, the system needs to be programmed for sufficient flexibility to ensure that all vehicles are charged to required levels within a set timeframe. This is especially important for organisations that rely on fleet vehicles to deliver its goods and services – and get their employees back to base. It also allows charging to happen at full volume when there is enough capacity,


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the current physical network will not allow an increase in capacity any further without risking equipment failures and trips, then the next option to consider would be to apply to the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) for the network to be reinforced with extra energy supply capacity. However, this option can be costly and managers should be prepared to invest; depending on location and requirement, the associated costs can amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. Alternatively, if one is fortunate enough


to be situated close to a local energy generator, then a more cost-effective option may be to consider a private wire arrangement with that producer. Whilst this will mean initial outlay for civil works, it will negate any future transmission and network operator costs. These can seem like costly changes to


make, however, there are options available to reduce the cost for organisations making the switch. Vehicle to grid chargers (V2G), for example, provide the possibility for businesses to make extra revenue from their fleet. This technology allows EVs to release stored electricity back to the grid during peak times when there is high demand, and to be paid for this service. Not only is this an economical solution, it is a sustainable one as it helps to balance out the grid when more low carbon generations, which tends to be intermittent, is introduced into the mix. The rise of EVs will continue to create


challenges for businesses and their energy managers as they look to develop the infrastructure solutions needed to support the change to decarbonised transport. However, addressing this challenge is crucial if the UK is to reach a low carbon future, and there are numerous opportunities for businesses to benefit.


EDF Energy edfenergy.com ENERGY MANAGEMENT | SPRING 2020 19


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