Electric grid limitations are the most significant roadblock to rolling out electric vehicle charging infrastructure for commercial EVs, according to Xendee Chief Business Officer Aks Gulhati, and he came to Microgrid 2023 with the data to prove it.
Xendee, an EV charging and microgrid design services provider, conducted a survey of leaders involved in the development, construction, operation or use of commercial EV charging projects. Gulhati shared the results this week on the panel How to Build a Nationwide EV Network with Microgrids.
The research uncovered three prominent themes:
1. The EV charging industry still needs external support to overcome cost challenges, such as the federal government incentives made available through the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
2. The industry faces structural electric grid-related hurdles that hamper the development and operation of EV charging infrastructure.
3. Microgrids can help on both fronts as potential solutions to both cost and electric grid challenges.
“Over 80 percent said grid readiness” was one of their top considerations when deciding where to locate a potential EV charging project,” Gulhati said. “So power access is probably the most important thing. And that brings us to microgrids.”
Xendee asked leaders to name the three biggest game-changing technologies to stimulate the transition to commercial EVs and EV fleets, and 72% said microgrids and DERs co-located with EV chargers. “By far and away, microgrids were at the top of the list,” Gulhati said.
Gulhati said that 69% of respondents plan to incorporate generation from company-owned microgrids or distributed energy resources (DERs) to power their EV charging infrastructure, with 46% planning to use third-party-owned microgrids or DERs.
Survey respondents were also asked to identify which specific DERs were most important to co-locate with their EV chargers. Microgrids topped the list by far (84%), followed by solar plus battery energy storage systems (BESS) at 69%, then a steep drop to standalone BESS (35%) and finally another steep drop to additional forms of DERs. Interestingly, a lower percentage of survey respondents said they were planning to co-locate microgrids and DERs with their EV chargers.
“This means that the aspiration is for folks to start work on associating more microgrids and solar PV plus BESS with EV charging,” Gulhati said, “But what they’re currently doing is much more of a single-technology solution and combining that with EV charging. So perhaps in the future, we’re going to start to see more complex DERs and microgrids supporting EV charging.”
The survey revealed a clear desire for a range of tools available during the project engineering and design phase to help companies:
· Optimize charging infrastructure with DER technologies
· Evaluate utility support and electric grid constraints
· Evaluate potential cost savings or revenue generation
Gulhati also described a challenge related to site analysis for commercial EV charging stakeholders: How can they evaluate all of their potential charger sites?
“They’ve got 300 sites and they’re saying, ‘Which of these sites should I start first?’ It’s a lot of analysis,” Gulhati said. “[Xendee has] been able to crunch those 300-site portfolios for companies in 30 minutes, and we can do site-specific analysis.”
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