Looking to electrify your car fleet or install charging points for staff?

Adam Pigott.jpg

Adam Pigott heads up the engineering arm of Kinect Energy Group’s sustainability team, delivering physical energy, cost and carbon reductions to Kinect Energy’s customers. Adam works across a wide variety of sectors including industrial, commercial and public sector and owns an electric vehicle.

Vehicle electrification is gaining prevalence in the minds of both the wider public and business. There is a sense that a change is coming, but few have a tangible view of what it means and what it will practically require. Much of the current push-back against electric vehicles (EVs) relates to lack of public charging infrastructure. Whilst national and local government are seeking to address public charging, businesses need to consider the issue of EV charging on their own premises via infrastructure they own and are responsible for, frequently termed ‘private charging’.

Should I be integrating EVs into my business strategy?

Whether a business installs private EV charging facilities on their premises is entirely optional but may be advantageous or even necessary if that business intends to electrify, its own fleet. Furthermore, providing EV charging may be valuable in attracting customers and staff or may even provide new revenue sources in its own right.

It is recommended that any business contemplating the installation of EV charging engages external expertise. This will enable an assessment of the current electrical infrastructure, the business’s EV charging needs and aspirations, if the two are compatible or whether infrastructure will require an upgrade. Furthermore, it will allow for a balance between numbers of charges and charging speed to be established, set against potential cost to increase supply capacity.

How much power will I need and how much will it cost?

Whilst installing one or two ‘slow’ charging points is unlikely to have much impact on a business’s electrical infrastructure, installing multiple ‘slow’ (3kW) or even a few ‘fast’ (7 – 22kW) or ‘rapid’ (>43kW) changing points most likely will.

Kinect Energy Group is already encountering situations in which supply capacity upgrades are necessary to satisfy EV charging requirements. In one extreme example, an upgrade to 35 times the existing capacity is required. Even modest upgrades can incur significant cost, with costs largely dependent upon how far back it is necessary to go to source the capacity on the electrical network.

In addition to physical capacity, any business contemplating EV changing infrastructure must also be mindful of additional energy costs. Kinect Energy is aware of some organisations that have installed one or two slow EV charging points and are currently absorbing the associated electricity cost.

For two 3kW chargers, this may amount to £6 per day or £1,350 a year. However, if two charging points swells to fifty over time, that annual electricity cost becomes £34,000. Not only is this much more significant, a business must ask whether it is justified in providing some employees ‘free’ fuel, when others who do not have an EV must continue to purchase their own fuel. Such a setup may invite some interesting staff discussions and may also stray into ‘benefit in kind territory’ in the future.

Concerns around capacity and the impact of EV charging are just as applicable to the national and local grid operators as they are to a business contemplating the installation of EV charging in a company car park. Consequently, ‘smart charging’ is being touted as a solution. At car park level, this would allow a number of chargers to restrict their combined output where restrained by a business’s electrical capacity, and at national level allowing for modulation of all EV charging depending on national electricity demand.

How do I regulate charging points on site?

For businesses preferring to pass-through electricity costs, or even apply a margin, many EV chargers can be programmed to link an RFID card or smartphone app with an employee. The owner of the EV charger and buyer of the power can then instigate a financial re-charge to that employee or utilize a third party to manage the process.

A number of businesses are also considering the possibility of allowing the public or other companies access to charging points on their premises, outside of business hours, to allow EV charging for those who have no ability to charge at home. Again, this would use a recognition mechanism that allows for electricity costs to be passed on, along with an addition margin or service charge, thereby generating additional income.

In the fullness of time it is likely that bidirectional charging or Vehicle to Grid (V2G), will allow for some power flow from the EV back to the grid as an addition to existing Demand Response services. Such services are becoming increasingly important to stabilize the grid as more variable-output renewable generation is added. The provision of such services is handsomely recompensed, and it will be the owner of the EV and charging infrastructure who will likely be remunerated.

What are the next steps?

Any forward-looking business with car parking for employees and customers should be considering EV charging. Whilst there are cost implications – equipment, installation and possible supply upgrade - government subsidies are available to help with charger and installation costs. Furthermore, the benefits include attraction of customers and staff, differentiation from the competition, increased environmental reputation and the ability to generate new revenue streams.

Given the myriad of EV charging considerations, it’s crucial that a business seeks expert advice before embarking on its EV journey.

At Kinect Energy we help customers integrate EVs into their business strategy, as well as ensuring electricity contracts and purchasing strategy are appropriately suited.

To find out how we can help, drop us a line at info@kinectenergy.com