In this blog, we talk to Mer EV charging experts about the topic of energy demand management and how your sites can cope with the increased demand for power.
In this article
With the transition to electric vehicles now well underway, charging infrastructure will become a standard feature in workplace car parks. But can your sites cope with the increased demand for power needed to recharge multiple EVs? Or are you restricted in your fleet electrification plans by grid constraints?
Supply and demand
Stevie Jones, Associate Consultant at Mer believes that EV charging en masse is going to require some careful planning and a detailed understanding of each location’s power supply as well as the forecast demand.
“As you would expect, an office building was constructed with the power needs of its occupants in mind, so centred around lighting, heating, and running IT equipment,” he says.
“As the use of electric vehicles grows, so does the expectation that these buildings will also provide EV charging, but that is not what they were designed to do.
“At Mer, when we are talking to a potential new customer, the first step is to establish what supply is available and therefore how many charging points it could support. We provide the client with clear analysis on what infrastructure they can install without jeopardising the integrity of the power supply to the building itself.”
In a commercial setting, it’s inevitable that you will have a number of vehicles charging at the same time, so you need to think carefully about how many charge points you need and make your decision based on how quickly you require your vehicles to be charged. Take a look at our guide on the right chargers for the right locations.
At Mer, we are experts in load balancing and smart charging and can support you with your energy demand management. Load balancing essentially shares out the available energy between all the EVs plugged in for a charge. If vehicles are going to be plugged in overnight, smart charging enables you to only draw power from the grid during off-peak times.
“One of the biggest challenges that businesses face is getting the right power in the right place at the right time. EV chargers account for a lot of energy usage and that can be a big cost to a business. However, we can work around it with our active load balancing and smart charging technology, making the most effective use of whatever available power there is at a site. This helps delay further investment until a business gets to phase two or three of their electrification journey, when they will need to bring in more power with a new DNO connection.”
The cost of bringing in additional power to the site can far outweigh the cost of the charging stations themselves. This can create a real headache for businesses who have not planned this into their upfront costs of transitioning to electric.
For large charging infrastructure roll-outs, to adequately meet the needs of a growing fleet, it will almost certainly be necessary to upgrade the power supply and it may even be necessary to upgrade the grid feeder and the substation at a site.
If the number of EVs you want to charge exceeds the available power, the obvious step would be to upgrade the local grid infrastructure. In the UK, a District Network Operator (DNO) is responsible for the power supply to your sites. But you must also keep in mind that if you lease your workspace rather than own it, you are probably not in a position to make that decision – so an early conversation with your landlord would be necessary to gain all the necessary permissions.
If you do go down this route, we can liaise with your DNO provider to provide up-front costs and, if you’re ready to go ahead, co-ordinate the new connection.
With the rise of cost-effective renewable energy there are now ways to generate your own energy on site and store it for when it is needed. Our engineering expertise means that we can survey each site and advise you on the best combination of technologies for any situation. This expertise also ensures that we have the right skills to project manage the installation of energy storage systems to integrate with EV charge point operation.
However, your workplace is very often not the only building connected to the local grid. When planning today’s EV charging infrastructure, also think about what you will need tomorrow.
“You may come into this process thinking that you need one or two charge points. However, as things evolve it’s virtually guaranteed that you will need more charging – and with that comes the need for more power. There will be a power grab by your neighbours as they look to get more supply into their depots and workplaces. A lot of businesses start their charge point roll-out quite small, but the speed of electrification is accelerating, so don’t get left behind.”
If all this sounds daunting, don’t be put off! We have become energy experts so you don’t have to – talk to one of our team to find out more about how we can help.
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