From petrol pumps to EV chargers: preparing for the future of transport
The transition to e-mobility is gaining pace. As countries around the world sharpen their focus on lowering carbon emissions, there are more electric vehicles (EVs) on the road than ever before.
We therefore need to ensure that the availability of high-power charging points keeps pace with the rising adoption of EVs in order to prevent congestion and delays for vehicle owners. High-power charging points are especially beneficial as EVs become more popular and are driven for longer distances. This presents a great opportunity for petrol station operators to step in.
Over half of all passenger vehicles sold will be electric by 2040, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance1. As concerns around climate change heighten, there are strong governmental efforts around the world to lower carbon emissions. Several countries have plans to phase out internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the near future, which will lead to fewer vehicles requiring fossil fuels.
The transport sector accounts for a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, with potential to increase further, according to The World Bank2. Not surprisingly, an increasing number of standalone firms are now entering the EV charging market. Last year, the number of publicly accessible chargers increased by 60 percent globally compared with the previous year, according to the International Energy Agency3.
Effective deployment of charging infrastructure is perhaps the most important factor in the mass adoption of EVs. Petrol stations present in every town and city across the globe, can play a key role in achieving this goal. By stepping up now, station owners can make their business future-proof, gain first mover advantage in the fast-growing EV charging market, and increase their customers’ loyalty.
How to start the transition to electric
Petrol stations are already strategically placed in locations according to driving patterns. The installation of EV chargers at these locations will create a network that will be convenient for drivers, no matter where they are. Often, there is no need for major changes in layout and customers are likely to spend more time at the station when charging EVs than when filling petrol. This allows owners to add additional streams of revenue by introducing lounges or restaurants where EV owners can relax while their car charges.
One of the ways to gauge EV demand is to look at car registrations in a certain area. Based on this da-ta, station owners can determine the number of charging points they need to deploy, and the power required for those chargers. EV owners typically charge at their homes or offices over long periods– petrol stations can offer high-power charging for quick charge ups. In some instances, this high-power charging requirement may mean upgrades are needed to the power infrastructure near the petrol station in terms of grid capacity and grid interconnection.
Preparing for a cost-efficient transition
It is essential to utilize equipment that is modular, scalable and future proof as the EV landscape continues to rapidly evolve over time. For example, if a petrol station installs three chargers and builds the power grid connection accordingly, it will be difficult to scale up when demand for charging grows. An alternative is to install a modular and relocatable solution, that can be expanded as needed. The solution can be relocated, allowing station owners to move it to newer high-demand locations if there is a shift in demand and provide charging support without the need for changing the layout of an existing site while evaluating potential grid upgrades.
After determining charging and power needs, the next step is to discuss some key factors with the local utility to enable an effective power connection. Owners can start with evaluating the available programs that the utility offers and their existing grid capacity. The next step is to evaluate charging time, peak power demand and rates.
One of the ways to enable cost efficiency is to install energy storage, which reduces the need to draw energy from the grid during peak hours, incentivizing more station owners to make the transition to EV charging. In areas with renewable power or fuel cells, storing energy and transferring surplus back to the grid makes the charging process both sustainable and economically advantageous.
Energy storage may also allow station owners to utilize their existing grid interconnection without up-grades. If the increase in demand will be minimal, the energy storage system can support the additional power needs. It can also allow station owners to test the site by providing high power charging for EVs without the need for a total grid upgrade. These plug-and-play solutions are relocatable, ensuring that the transition to charging vehicles remains smooth.
At the initial stage, owners can experiment with and evaluate different charging models once the chargers are deployed. They can learn from consumer behavior and apply the findings to the next phase of expansion. Digitally connected solutions can also optimize e-mobility charging operations. There are several new technologies that are helping optimize charging and load management. For example, ABB’s Energy Storage Module features a proprietary technology offering synchronized charging between battery energy storage systems (BESS) and EV chargers. ABB’s EV Site Solution (EVSS) Site Controller provides load management and intelligent connectivity.
Let’s write the future of e-mobility
The electric transformation in the transport sector has arrived and is here to stay. ABB has laid the foundation of this change with more than 17,000 direct current (DC) fast chargers sold in more than 80 countries around the world.
The key to maximizing the benefits of this transition lies in managing energy efficiently by keeping track of unused capacity and utilizing it to generate more revenue. Both the usage of EVs and a reliable charging infrastructure are inter-connected in the process of expanding the adoption of e-mobility.
With EVs rising in number, there is a need for effective and reliable charging. Simultaneously, more charging stations deployed globally will encourage organizations and people to switch to e-mobility. Several automakers have already released or are in the process of launching new models of EVs, indicating further growth in demand in the coming years.
Entering this market early can give petrol station owners a solid head start because they:
- have several profitable locations to choose from;
- have an early advantage to predict consumer behavior in terms of EV charging; and
- have ample time to discover innovative charging models that are future proof and ready to tackle the requirements of newer EVs with longer battery ranges and high-power requirements.
Visit solutions.abb/e-mobility for more about ABB Electrification solutions for the future of emissions-free transportation.