Predicting a Surge in Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

(DGIwire) – Along with the increasingly larger number of electric vehicles (EVs) on U.S. roads has come a sharp rise in the number of charging stations. As recently reported in Commercial Property Executive, this trend has significant implications for property owners and managers—as the demand for stations from their customers and employees may rise as well. There is one issue sure to challenge owners debating whether to install EV chargers on their properties: How fast can charging ultimately get?

“What is needed is to get to the same fill-up speed as is currently possible with gasoline-powered vehicles: five minutes,” says Stephen Voller, CEO of ZapGo Ltd, the developer of Carbon-Ion™ (C-Ion®) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries. “Increase the chargers to one megawatt, and a vehicle can be filled up in that period of time. The hitch, of course, is the surge in demand for power this entails.”

As the article notes, an average house uses 30 kilowatts of electricity a day, and the scenario Voller describes would be 30 times that. If everyone on an apartment block were to switch to such fast-charging chargers, and they left for work and came home at approximately the same time, it would be a massive problem for the grid.

ZapGo has developed a technology centered on storage batteries that can be installed beneath commercial buildings and recharged at night, when the cost of electricity declines, the article further observes. EV owners could then charge their vehicles from these underground batteries, rather than from the grid. The special property of these batteries is they don’t catch fire—in contrast to lithium-ion batteries that do in fact hold the risk of catching fire.

Voller additionally believes the EV segment’s transformation can be compared to that of mobile phone technology. Twenty years ago, Voller says, mobile phones were as unwieldy as bricks; he predicts that the coming years will witness a transformation as EVs become more like the smartphones of today in terms of customer satisfaction. This includes a transformation in how quickly those vehicles can be recharged at public stations.

One potential solution is to utilize C-Ion cells, which allow energy to be safely transferred to EVs using extremely fast charging rates. Banks of C-Ion cells can be used to buffer the grid, and very-high-rate direct current chargers could then be connected to the C-Ion banks operating at 350kW, 450kW or even as high as 1,000kW. These DC chargers could be installed at filling stations without the need to install new grid infrastructure.

“The technology that can allow EV charging stations to provide convenience for EV owners is already under development, and its potential offers a bright future for the industry as a whole—a fact that property managers and owners should be keenly aware of,” Voller adds.