Takeaways and Insights from 2023 EV Charging Infrastructure Summit | Henderson Engineers Takeaways and Insights from 2023 EV Charging Infrastructure Summit | Henderson Engineers

Takeaways and Insights from 2023 EV Charging Infrastructure Summit

Jeremy Treat, client sector practice manager, recently represented Henderson Engineers at the 2023 EV Charging Infrastructure Summit. The event focused on utility programs and deployments with an eye toward refining strategies, identifying technologies, and implementing business models that will ensure widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption is optimized for all parties involved. Jeremy returned from the event with the following key takeaways:

 

EV Adoption Hesitancy

Still in its infancy, the EV industry is currently experiencing its “gold rush” phase with many uncertainties ahead. With a mass market transition to EVs forecasted, analysts estimate that EV sales could reach 30-50% of total vehicle sales by 2030. Many existing concerns for EVs center around battery life and replacement concerns. With new battery technologies being introduced, some of these concerns should diminish.

 

Other concerns include the waste produced by EV batteries and the overall cost of EVs. The recycling of used EV batteries for use in storage banks is an emerging application currently under research to ease concerns of waste produced by the batteries. Additionally, EV prices are expected to decline in price to combat cost barriers.

 

New technological improvements will reduce range anxiety, which is the leading concern among potential buyers. For the large-scale adoption of EVs to be successful, the public and private sectors will be required to invest in infrastructure.

 

EV Infrastructure Challenges

There have been two predominant challenges when it comes to EV infrastructure. While EV adoption has been limited by EV infrastructure, the infrastructure has been hindered by the lack of demand or the ability to see where revenue opportunities exist. Public funding initiatives such as the NEVI Formula Program and huge investments from private sector movers and shakers like Walmart will be a catalyst to get the necessary infrastructure to spur more widespread adoption.

 

DCFC (DC Fast Charging) and large-scale fleet charging operations require a massive amount of electricity. The existing infrastructure for these additions is generally inadequate and requires infrastructure upgrades. This adds a significant cost to these projects. Site design, subsurface damage prevention, and site selection due diligence are all key components that must be evaluated. Although an owner may have a specific site in mind with an attractive location for their chargers, there could be potential pitfalls that may spoil those plans. Engineering and technology consultation from subject matter experts is crucial in helping owners evaluate costs and successfully navigate their investments.

 

Electrical Grid Impact

It remains uncertain whether the U.S. grid infrastructure will be able to serve the increased electrical demand of widespread fleet electrification. EV charging can present unique factors that need to be considered when dealing with high volumes of nonlinear Level 2 and DCFC loads; harmonics, load imbalance, total demand distortion, and rapid voltage change, just to name a few. Engaging an engineer to perform a proper power quality analysis becomes crucial at this scale to increase reliability, improve efficiency, reduce downtime, and avoid utility penalties.

 

Looking Forward

As the EV industry continues to grow, it is expected that 90% of charging will occur at home or at work with Level 2 (L2) charging. DC fast charging is all the buzz right now; however, the reality is that L2 charging will be the dominant charging speed. Over time, EV technology will improve thus lessening the frequency of charging required. The big push for public installation of DCFC will taper off over time once EV drivers become more educated and realize they can charge at home or work and have plenty of range. Long trips and emergency charging will become the primary use of DCFCs.

 

Wireless charging (which in actuality is not exactly wireless, just cableless) could gain traction over time if vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) get on board and partner with wireless charging vendors to factory install docking receivers under EVs. History has shown us that all things that can go wireless do so.

 

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) is another trend that could emerge. Since 95% of automobiles are parked at any given moment, electric vehicle batteries are seen as a potentially vast source of energy for the grid. V2G can potentially lower grid operational costs by reducing peak demand, shifting load to off-peak times, and providing ancillary services. Energy demand response will play a large role in grid management, renewable integration, and cost optimization.

 

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to engrain itself into more of our daily lives, AI-driven energy management will be an attractive solution to maximize the efficiency between energy generation and electricity usage on sites with distributed energy resources (DERs) that are interconnected with the grid. The expected massive increase in EV charging infrastructure will have important implications for the grid, and present stakeholders with significant challenges as the volume continues to grow. Knowledgeable engineers who stay on top of industry trends and incentives will continue to be the voice of reason for owners as they embark on their EV infrastructure journey.

 

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Written By
JEREMY TREAT

Practice Manager

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