Although 2020 started with an unexpected economic downturn, it was a great success for the European EV market. Compared to 2019, the number of registered BEVs and PHEVs has increased by 137% and now accounts for 1.4 million registered vehicles of this type. The intense promotion of the new, attractive EVs, the support from the green recovery funds and the 95g CO2 mandate have given a big boost to the EV market, even though the vehicle market has declined by 20% (EV Volumes, 2021). In the light of EU’s goals of clime neutrality by 2050, EU Commission is estimating that by 2030, there will be at least 30 million zero-emission vehicles (Electrive).
According to Statista, there are about 285,800 charging stations (AC and DC) installed in Europe (including Turkey) in 2020. At first glance, it looks like the supply of charging stations is meeting the demand of the growing number of EVs. However, the number of EVs per charging station has increased from two per station in 2010 to eleven in 2020. In 2019, there were eight EVs per charging station in Europe, compared to three more in just one year (Statista).
The number of charging stations available will be closely linked to grid capacity, but the momentum provides an ideal opportunity to build new sustainable mobility services. Since not all EV owners have access to convenient and secure charging options at home or work, there is a strong tendency to provide ample charging options at everyday touchpoints that individuals encounter while running errands, such as gyms, retail stores, restaurants, etc. According to Deloitte, the latter charging options are needed for the 40-50% of households in the UK, that don’t have the option of off-street parking, or for EV drivers who simply want to top up when they’re out and about. Commercial, tourism and entertainment facilities are therefore motivated to offer charging stations as an amenity, as they are likely to attract EV drivers and generate profit while they charge their EVs.
What are the independent charging hubs?
The eMobility ecosystem offers a variety of charging options. Some are quite simple, such as charging at home with abundant available power, while others become more complex as the number of users (identifiers), limited power, and/or the implementation of payment services increases. To better explain what a charging hub is, let’s take a look at the charging hub within the entire e-mobility ecosystem.
On the image above, you can see charging stations installed in front of a building or inside a building, and an EV charging at one of the charging stations. The charging stations are of course connected to the electrical grid. The location owner is usually the building owner or property manager who also owns the charging stations. The circle of an independent charging hub closes with the final user of the charging stations – an EV driver. These are usually the users of the building – employees working there or guests.
If the owner of the charging stations wants to expand the use of the charging stations beyond the independent charging hub and make the charging stations public and chargeable, then users will need an app to authorize and pay for a charging session. This app is usually provided by the e-mobility service providers (EMPs), which use a back-office system to manage users, billing and payment. The EMP is usually connected to other charge point operators (CPOs) and EMPs via roaming. If you do not want to make the charging stations publicly available or avoid the cost of integrating a EMP, an independent charging hub or in other words a stand-alone charging hub is a good option to start.
Who are the independent charging hubs designed for?
Independent charging hubs represent any moderately complex charging location where there may be multiple users (identifications), limited available power, need for basic management, but no need for financial reimbursement or cost sharing. Therefore, they are perfect for promoting hospitality to your business. Either you run a retail store, a hotel, or you want to offer e-mobility in an apartment building or to your employees.
Here are some examples of independent charging hubs in different locations:
What are the benefits of independent charging hubs?
- Lower initial investment costs and operating cost with installation of smart chargers
When you take away the cost of the EMP, with the expensive back office and the mobile app that comes with it, you save a quite a sum of money already. In addition, you will also cut back on the extra time needed for the possible integrations.
- Lower operating expenses due to possibilities of integration into existing building management/smart systems
By installing smart chargers, you can reduce charger operating costs. You can connect the smart chargers to the existing building energy management system (BEMS) or smart system. Let’s take a hotel as an example. In a hotel, there are other controllable loads besides the charging stations, such as a heat pump. If this is the case, it is best to connect the electric vehicle power supply (EVSE) to the BEMS. This is usually done via the protocol called Modbus. So make sure that your charging stations support the Modbus protocol.
- Plug & Play set up
If you are considering installing a smaller location of chargers, there is no need for (an immediate) connection to an external network. Also, if you are in a hurry to set up the chargers, excluding or postponing the inclusion of one EMP can save you a lot of time. When including an EMP, you need to keep in mind the time required for possible integrations as well as some administrative delays.
- Locally managed power clusters for maximisation of existing power supply
Power management can be done at the local level, machine-to-machine communication. In other words, without having to connect the chargers to a back-office or cloud system, one can connect the cluster of charging stations and have the maximum power changed dynamically. This is called dynamic load management. In this way, you can also rely on the locally generated solar energy (photovoltaic). And last but not least, you can connect this locally managed cluster to an external system and thus take advantage of a smart energy building system.
- Easy access management
Even if you have a hundred charging stations installed in a cluster and a hundred EV drivers using them, you can still manage everything locally. Local independent hubs are also able to provide charging data information that you can use for cost sharing among your EV drivers. Note here that you need charging stations that support such a feature. In addition, you can also take advantage of on-screen advertising of your local offerings, for example in the building. You can also offer your users different identification options (eg PIN code or RFID card) and upload a user whitelist to the charging stations.
Beyond independent charging hubs
What if you connected your system to an external player, such as EMP, which covers paid public charging? Essentially, not only will you attract EV drivers to your location, but you will also be able to monetize your infrastructure to a greater degree.
Etrel’s interactive charging stations offer:
- Dynamic load management with real-time data
- Smart clustering solutions for large clusters
- Acceptance of external digital signals to balance the grid
In addition, Etrel INCH chargers are open to smart building integration via Modbus protocol. They are fully configurable, including user whitelist and access to charging data for reimbursement or cost sharing. This means you can see who and how much has charged. The charging stations can also be connected to an external system via the OCPP protocol.
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