Key considerations for building an EV infrastructure strategy

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When making the switch to an Electric Vehicle (EV) fleet, planning for the necessary charging infrastructure is vital to ensure a successful transition. Choosing the wrong chargers, underestimating your power needs or choosing the wrong power supply can all lead to future issues.

The EV chargepoints are only one part of the charging infrastructure: From the point of supply, be that the distribution grid or your existing supply, there will potentially be High Voltage (HV) or Low Voltage (LV) switchgear, distribution panels, earthing, cabling and even additional cabinets related to the chargers for communications or to convert the supply from AC to DC.

Here are some of the things to consider when building a successful EV charging infrastructure:

Defining your charging strategy

It may sound obvious, but fundamental to the charging infrastructure you need is the type and number of chargers you need. Determining a clear EV charging strategy is the pivotal first step. This will effectively consist of the type, rating and number of EV chargers you need and when they will be used.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where will the EVs be charged? Is your fleet parked at depots or employee’s homes?
  • When will the EVs be charged? Overnight charging or will the vehicles need quick top-ups during the day?
  • What percentage of their battery will the EV be left with every day? This leads to…
  • What is your likely future use? Whilst you do not want to knowingly oversize your connection, if you have a plans to increase your EV fleet in the coming years, it is wise to

Calculating you required load

If you add together the maximum load of each EV charger you plan to install, you may calculate a very large load requirement. Ask yourself whether this is realistic. Overestimating your load requirements may require a costly electrical infrastructure, which is oversized. Key points to consider are:

  • What is the battery charging capability of your fleet? Your EV will only charger as fast as the battery will let it, regardless of EV charger rating.
  • Can you use load management software to share the available load across EVs charging at the same time?
  • If you already have a big energy demand during the day, but not overnight, will your EVs be able to charge within your existing supply agreement?
  • Could you operate on a timed connection? For example, the DNO may be able to offer you a cheaper connection if you agree to only use the load between certain times, for example 19:00 to 05:00.
  • What is your likely future use? Whilst you do not want to knowingly oversize your connection, if you have a plans to increase your EV fleet in the coming years, it is wise to secure the load at the outset to avoid additional installation costs in the future.

Determining the power supply

With the information gathered from determining the number and type of EV chargers needed, you can understand whether or not you have enough spare load available through your existing Power Supply Agreement with your Distribution Network Operator (DNO). If you are installing a few slow chargers, you may have the spare load already available.

If you do have the spare capacity, do you have spare ways on your distribution board? This work is all after the meter so can be undertaken by an electrician, someone with NICEIC accreditation.

However, if your existing spare capacity is too low, you will need to ask your Distribution Network Operator where the load is available on their network by applying for a ‘point of connection’. They will assess whether the load is available locally and whether the network can take the harmonics from the chargers. The Distribution Network Operator (DNO) will then supply you with a quote summarising the costs. You can get a competitive quotation for these works from an Independent Connections Provider (ICP) such as Rock Power Connections.

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