Electric Vehicles at the Workplace
With he total number of electric vehicles on Irish roads almost doubling in just 12 months and an increase of 680% in the number of registrations in January 2019 over the same month the previous year, it is just about impossible to deny that electric vehicles are here for the long haul.
Technology advances now mean that EVs can allow us to travel between most major urban centres on a single battery charge. Moreover charging speeds are increasing, meaning that when we do need to charge, it is not such an inconvenience.
So whether your organization has fleet vehicles or simply has staff car parking, you will be faced with the prospect of installing charging infrastructure. Minimize cost and maximize benefits are pillars on which clever installation of charge points should be based.
Warning: Persons viewing this article should be aware that the author advocates the installation of Electric Vehicle charging facilities at workplaces.
One of the newest members of the A-list of must have facilities is Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). Whether you are responsible for staff facilities at a company or for customer facilities at a commercial development, you are likely to have been asked to look into EV charging.
The first time you are asked to consider EV charging facilities in a car park, the probability is that you will think of this as a marginal service that will cost more than it’s worth in good will. In the early days of EV’s you would probably be correct. However the view should be more medium term.
Why should you install charge points?
- It helps promote sustainable transport
- It can improve the carbon profile of your organisation
- It keeps staff and users happy
- It can pay for itself
- It can facilitate a significant reduction in fleet costs
When deciding to install chargers there are a couple of rules to remember.
Bigger is not always better
The tendency of the eager is to install a fast charger or at least a 22kW charger similar to those on the streets around the country. In truth, for many applications these are not ultimately the best solution. In the case of staff parking most commercial or industrial companies work to an 8-hour shift, therefore the consideration should be the amount of energy which can be loaded into the vehicle over this time period. A 7kW charger can load 56kWh’s of energy over the standard 8-hour shift if the vehicle battery is large enough to accept it. To put this in perspective, the vehicle can be expected to achieve over 300km of real driving. This is more than a reasonable expectation for commuting drivers. There is an additional significant benefit of sticking with a 7kW charge point; it means you can install three of these for each 22kW charge point.
Cheaper is sometimes more expensive
Having just encouraged you to think of limiting the power of the charge point and therefore the cost, I am now going to suggest that cheaper is not always better. Apart from build quality, there are hidden factors that affect the list price of the charge point. The first is circuit protection; many of the cheaper units on the market do not include internal circuit breakers, which should be considered for equipment such as this. The second item is open protocol communications. This is an extremely important item as it opens the charge point up to energy management, usage & environmental reporting as well as cost recovery. Some units have closed protocol, which means, you will only be able to use the makers software with their charge points, thus limiting your options when the time comes to install additional facilities. I strongly advocate sticking with an Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) unit, which will allow your charge point to work with a selection of back-office systems, managing energy and payments as well as gathering usage data.
What works for One doesn’t always work for Many
When you start with the first charge point, you need to be considering the future. This means considering the scope for expansion, maybe installing additional ductwork when ground works are taking place, maybe installing a local distribution board and a reasonable size feeder cable. However it also ties in with the two previous topics. If you install large charge points you are likely to run out of capacity on your distribution boards and possibly even increase the Maximum Import Capacity (MIC) for the site. To complement your choice of a 7kW charge, back office management systems can offer energy management and scheduling services that can further reduce the drain on energy resources. I should point out that these back office or charge point management systems are still evolving, providing yet another reason to stick with OCPP compatible hardware.
Most companies were comfortable with the idea of providing free power to those brave early adopters. After all, if it’s only a couple of hundred Euro’s a year, then its cheap PR. But experience shows that where one comes, more follow. By this point you will have two considerations, how do we pass the cost through to the user and probably how do we manage Benefit in Kind reporting. The latter is not guaranteed to be an issue, however if you are giving energy to your staff free of charge, then it is likely to be a future focus of attention. On the other hand, if the energy costs the consumer a fair rate, then BIK is not relevant.
By charging the user a fair rate for the energy used, the customer is accessing energy at a time of high convenience and probably for a similar cost to what they would pay at home. For the host, the cost of the charge point as well as the consumed energy and O&M can all be recouped.
In summary, I believe you should consider installing charge points for staff or clients, particularly if you are undergoing any construction projects on site. I also believe you should install a solution which is sustainable in the long-term. This means, linking with a manufacturer who can offer OCPP and a back office solution.
About Mark Daly:
Mark Daly, qualified in Electronic Engineering. His early experience was in manufacturing and production, later moving into wider electro-mechanical roles. Mark first came to the Energy Industry in 1998 on the commissioning of a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine. With considerable expertise in control systems as well as O&M for ESB at one of Ireland’s largest generator sets he has taken his experiences into the next generation of challenges to hit the energy business. 2011 saw him transfer to ESB ecars where his multi-discipline background was used to find close fits between the energy sector and other industries such as ICT, Automotive and Telecoms. His stakeholder management skills were honed during this time while leading ESB’s input into a number of EU funded projects as well as working with state agencies towards the development of policies and the support of Irish industry in an emerging market sector. Mark has been a key player in ESB’s engagement with one of the energy industries most disruptive and exciting technologies.
In 2016 Mark established Eninserv Limited, providing technical and commercial consultancy in domains of energy and e-mobility. Eninserv assist public and private sector organisations in Ireland and across Europe.