When investing in EV charging infrastructure, take an ecosystem approach
As sales of electric vehicles (EVs) accelerate, we can now imagine EVs overtaking conventionally powered vehicles within a few years. To support those vehicles, large businesses will need to change the way they think about EV charging infrastructure: from planning around responding to demand, to anticipating demand.
In fact, the need for charging capacity, which can scale with the growth of EV adoption is now so urgent that in December, the European Commission published an action plan for transport including a clear direction for the future of Europe’s infrastructure. Among this is a requirement for infrastructure to be interoperable, more transparency around pricing and payments, and intelligent recharging which provides additional flexibility to the grid.
Ecosystems, not just devices
In short, the Commission is saying that the future of charging infrastructure is about more than putting physical devices in the ground. The most successful charging initiatives will be those that take this big picture into account, seeing charging as an ecosystem of technologies and services that support each other to produce a cost-effective, easy-to-manage, future-ready outcome.
When we think about charging as an ecosystem, we’re thinking about the software that is used to manage it, about how users can access it simply and intuitively, about long-term support for maintenance and upgrades, about the broad range of business models which charging can operate within, about how the system can scale up to greater demand in the future, and about how the charging solution interacts with the grid.
That’s a lot to grapple with, especially for businesses that are scaling up from a handful of charge points or are offering charging for the first time. By focusing on designing for future growth, implementing smart approaches to charging, and managing energy usage requirements, businesses can build a clear vision that makes the task less daunting. We are no longer in the early days of EV charging, and there’s a wealth of information out there.
The benefits of ecosystem thinking
The consultancy group McKinsey, for example, recently published a report outlining how tens of millions of charge points and hundreds of billions of dollars in investment will be needed by 2030 to meet the demand for charging. Businesses have a vital role in this, and have a lot to gain from EV charging. Charging can provide corporate EV fleets a lower total cost of ownership than the fossil fuel powered alternative, attract customers with on-site charging, and reinforce a company’s green brand image by supporting the EV revolution.
With that level of investment, we need to make sure that we build solutions for the long term, as retrofitting systems (as McKinsey highlights) is significantly more expensive than planning ahead. To do that planning with confidence requires deep experience and thinking that’s one step ahead of today. Shell Recharge Solutions is here to provide that consultative approach.
By focusing on data, we can deliver real-time insights through our Business Hub to make charging easier to manage. With integrated onboarding and customer service, we can help create a great driver experience. Businesses need to be ready for growth in EV drivers, so we make sure that their infrastructure is scalable and adaptable, and our open platform connects to other back-end systems to offer adaptability as needs change. From commissioning sites to preparing for growth, we’re here to help.
The way forward for business charging
Planning for a manageable, flexible, scalable charging ecosystem means that businesses will be able to not just keep up with, but get the most out of the EV revolution. In the future, as EV usage grows, we will need smarter charging solutions that can adapt to the power available in a building, and support the grid as it shifts towards renewable energy. Shell Recharge Solutions provides solutions like Dynamic Power Sharing and over-the-air updates which will expand what the charging ecosystem is capable of.
Installing charge points as though they are isolated devices will not meet the needs of businesses or drivers in our EV future; if we plan them as an ecosystem, we can create a smarter, cleaner energy future.
If you would like to learn more about charging for businesses - from basic principles to maximising return on investment - reach out to us today.