Inadequate charging infrastructure remains a major adoption barrier for electric vehicles (EVs). Patchy availability of charging stations is the reason for range anxiety. Diversity in terms of technology, architecture, number of chargers and their varieties, connectors, charging methods, and then significant investments and planning for each configuration, add to complexities in setting up charging stations. An effective configurator can offer an optimal configuration of EV charging stations with accurate cost and price estimates.
The challenge in setting up charging stations is the initial investment and the diversity in their standards. A charging station setup needs the following considerations: number of charging points, mix of ports, charging level (from 1 to 4, based on charging speed), power source (renewable vs. traditional, grid vs. local), and pricing. A charging station configurator platform (CSCP) can optimize the charging station configuration and accurately estimates the final cost. It is a decision tool for experts to simulate and assess multiple configurations, their predicted specifications and costs and accordingly recommend the best option. Such configurator platform will help many businesses to come forward to setup infrastructure and win-win for both business and EV adoption.
Market size and Challenges in setting up charging stations
The appetite for charging station investments directly correlates with the EV adoption rate and the utilization of public stations. Level 1 and 2 charging stations are for domestic and commercial applications, while level 3 and 4 are fast charging stations. According to PwC, for an average utilization of 10% of charging stations and 5% of EV adoption, US will need 235,000 charging stations by 2030. However, if EV users mostly use their home or workplace charging stations, level 3 and 4 charging station operators are prone to low utilization risks and in turn low returns.
At a macro level, the number of charging stations, their category, location, and ability to scale up are important. Once these inputs are decided, CSCP optimizes individual charging station specifications at a micro level. Several challenges come up in setting up an EV charging station – huge investments, lack of standards for interoperability between multiple vehicles, accurate demand forecasting, etc. All these together translate into capacity utilization, grid load, and charging time, leading to queue management at a station. Also a CSCP resolves investment and load forecasting challenges with accurate cost and demand estimates.
On the interoperability standards side, EV charging station infrastructure should follow geo-specific standards, regulations, and compliance requirements. The evolving standards, connector types, and multiple ecosystem players in the EV space add to challenges in setting up EV charging stations.
The selection of the most optimized combination of connector types, chargers, and charge management platforms requires due diligence before investments. This requires EV charging stations to stay optimally connected from its source, ie, from grids to end consumers.
Charging station configurator platform solution (CSCP):
CSCP aims to address these challenges through a service platform approach, where it analyzes core requirements for the most optimal recommended recipe. It leverages algorithms to assess a suitable charger for a particular use case that encompasses hardware and software elements. It houses a set of libraries to precisely estimate cost and suggested bill-of-material to set up cost-effective charging stations.
CSCP lets users virtually visualize and assemble multiple combinations of systems and subsystems to arrive at a finished product. The simulator module helps users select a specific configuration among many options. It estimates specifications for each configuration along with a bill-of-material and accordingly provides a cost estimate. The charging station estimation and design process involves the following steps (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Charging station demand estimation and design
Charging stations are the last mile in the EV infrastructure and play a key role in overall accomplishment. CSCP simplifies complex processes such as configuration design and cost estimation to help charging station operators decide on pay-per-use charges and establish a profitable and sustainable business. Charging stations should closely monitor charging time, charging type, and the right proportion of renewable energy to keep charging costs and grid loads at reasonable levels to achieve the desired success.
“Configurators simplify complex design processes to help charging station operators run a profitable business”
By: sreekanta_gupthabp , ramachandran.s , venkateswaran.vinod , lakshminarayanan_c