Unleashing Workplace EV Charging: Navigating Potential Power Obstacles for Employers
As the world embraces sustainable transportation, electric vehicles (EVs) have gained widespread popularity. According to the Bloomberg Electric Vehicle Outlook, 2020, by 2025, it is projected that 10% of global passenger vehicle sales will be EVs, and by 2040, an estimated 290 million charging stations will be needed to support the growing EV fleet. This threshold seems challenging when we note that to date the current availability of public charging stations in the United States and Europe is estimated at 116,000 according to the U.S. Alternative Fuels Data Center, and 479,000, according to Statzon, respectively.
Ensuring continued growth in EV adoption relies heavily on ready access to charging ports. In fact, range anxiety, or the uncertainty of being able to charge the vehicle, is one of EV owners and potential owners’ top concerns. While many EV drivers have installed residential chargers at home, to feel confident that their vehicles can stay charged wherever they are, drivers still need broad access to distributed chargers. This concern is largely warranted as currently the availability of charging stations at preferrable locations, namely on highways and in public spaces, is limited.
Employers play a prominent role in widespread EV adoption
That’s where employers step into the picture. Currently, home and office charging make up the largest areas for EV infrastructure investment, accounting for 78% of all investments in charging stations according to the Bloomberg Electric Vehicle Outlook, 2020. Research by Wood Mackenzie shows that the number of workplace chargers is increasing rapidly around the world, with the largest growth in in Europe and North America. For reasons of convenience, EV owners are most likely to charge their vehicles either at home during the nighttime or at the office in the daytime. Furthermore, studies show that the ability to charge at work can potentially double a Plug-In EV (PEV) driver’s all-electric daily driving range, especially if the owner of the EV has a long commute to work or is required to use their vehicle for work-related travel.
However, and despite the demand from employees for EV charging facilities and the clear benefits for efficiently and economically managing a company fleet, many employers are bewildered by the operational aspects involved in the deployment of a successful EV charging solution. Employers face various challenges and addressing power limitations at workplace charging sites is a prominent concern.
Employers can build confidence in their steps towards implementing EV charging solutions and overcoming potential power limitations at workplace charging sites by adopting these straightforward strategies.
Conduct a thorough power infrastructure assessment
Conducting a power infrastructure assessment is essential, and employers should establish a collaborative relationship with local utility companies to complete the task accurately. Utility companies possess extensive knowledge about the power grid and can provide valuable insights into potential upgrades or modifications needed to support EV charging infrastructure. They can also guide employers through the process of obtaining the necessary permits and approvals, in addition to providing information on potential upgrade opportunities, available incentives or rebates for EV infrastructure installations.
Understand how to effectively meter energy usage
Metering capabilities play a crucial role in power infrastructure assessments. Accurate metering data ensures proper tracking of energy usage and facilitates billing or reimbursement processes between employers and employees for EV charging. It involves evaluating the ability of metering systems to accurately measure and record the electricity consumption of EV charging stations to understand the load and how it can best be managed for long-term stability.
Consider total load management strategies
Total load management strategies are another methodology to avoid overloading the grid or compromising power supply stability. Techniques like load balancing and charging during off-peak hours help distribute power optimally and prevent excessive demand charges. Also, integrating smart grid technologies could help further enhance management and efficiency. Nevertheless, these “quick fixes” fail to meet the primary requirement of employees from an efficient EV charging solution: reliable and accessible daytime charging options for their vehicles at the workplace.
Explore distributed generation and storage capabilities to ensure reliability and scalability
In scenarios where employers want to effectively manage their loads to ensure constantly available power, whether in rural areas where the grid is absent or in densely populated urban areas where the grid is at capacity, distributed generation and storage capacities provide effective solutions. By installing on-site renewable energy generation systems like solar or wind energy, employers can offset the power demand of EV charging stations while also enabling the integration of renewable energy sources. Distributed generation helps manage grid load and reduce strain during peak charging times, creating conditions for dependable power availability in daytime hours, while also enabling the use of renewable energy sources which grant employers eligibility for a wide variety of incentives, tax credits and other benefits aimed at encouraging employers to go green. This of course goes hand-in-hand with employers’ efforts to attract environmentally conscious talent and customers; proprietary EV charging accessibility certainly gives employers added value in this regard.
Grid-independent energy generation and storage systems, like GenCell’s EVOX™ off-grid hydrogen fuel cell solution, can serve this purpose and by enhancing workplace EV charging capabilities, addressing various workplace power limitations. EVOX™ utilizes hydrogen refueling to keep EV charging stations at maximum charge capacity, ready and able to charge any number of vehicles visiting the station anytime, enabling uninterrupted three-phase power availability at the charging stations. EVOX™ combines alkaline fuel cell technology with battery storage, hydrogen fueling, and energy management software to ensure the 24/7 availability of green, grid-independent power wherever EVs need to travel. EVOX™ suits fast, super, and turbo DC charging types and multiple car charging. It is zero-emission and compliant with renewable energy initiatives, is modular and scalable with low maintenance requirements, and can be rapidly deployed in remote locations or densely populated areas to participate in demand response programs, also providing backup power during grid outages. Furthermore, sustainability-oriented employers can effectively showcase their commitment to environmental initiatives, strive towards attaining pertinent ESG objectives, and manifest their endorsement of clean energy values through the provision of advanced clean tech solutions such as EVOX™ for workplace EV charging.
Explore avenues for cost savings and revenue generation from EV charging infrastructure
In addition, distributed generation and energy storage options like EVOX™ offer employers access to cost savings in the long run, reducing reliance on grid power and optimizing charging processes to avoid peak demand charges. Employers can explore various ways to generate revenue from their EV charging infrastructure, such as power purchasing agreements (PPAs) with local utilities, carbon credits – up to 4 carbon credits per year in the U.S., depending on the intensity of the state’s electricity portfolio, according to the Connecticut Green Bank, and by offering paid charging services to the local community in cases of excess capacity.
EV charging infrastructure in the workplace: A step in the right direction
Once an employer has addressed the various power infrastructure challenges that are unique to their company and have successfully implemented an EV charging solution, scalability and future-proofing are important considerations that companies should take into account, especially as EV charging demand increases. Employers can expand renewable energy generation systems and increase storage capacities to accommodate the growing load, avoiding costly grid infrastructure upgrades in the future. Partnerships with charging network operators or energy companies provide additional opportunities for employers to enhance their EV charging offerings, with the potential for significant financial benefit from such initiatives.
In addition, employers who own their facilities can benefit from increased property value by adding EV charging infrastructure; deploying workplace charging stations supported by green building standards like LEED, ENERGYSTAR, and STARS, further highlight the organization’s commitment to sustainability.
By integrating distributed generation, energy storage, and EV charging, employers can make meaningful progress towards their sustainability initiatives. The use of renewable energy minimizes greenhouse gas emissions associated with traditional grid power, aligning with emissions targets and as mentioned, attracting the attention of carbon footprint-minded employees. Furthermore, workplace EV charging programs complement an organization’s portfolio of sustainability practices, potentially leading to Scope 3 emissions reductions and positively impacting long-term profitability.
The ‘triple bottom line’ of EV charging in the workplace
There are various power infrastructure obstacles to installing EV charging infrastructure at the workplace. However, these challenges can be overcome through collaboration with utility companies in conducting detailed power infrastructure assessments, by implementing effective metering practices, and by distributing generation and storing renewable energy with solutions like GenCell’s EVOX™ hydrogen-based EV charging solution. Once an employer has addressed these challenges and successfully implemented an EV charging solution, they can reach “triple bottom line” – environmental, social, and economic – benefits that go hand-in-hand with such an initiative, namely improved sustainability performance, the ability to attract high-quality talent, and the economic benefits inherent to participation in a global network of EV charging solutions.
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