Simplicity and integration: Growing the EV charging network

The UK EV market is booming, with more electric cars registered in 2021 than in the previous five years combined, and with an estimated 1 million EVs and plug-in hybrids now driving on Britain’s roads. The roll-out of a robust EV charging infrastructure is vital to support this rapid EV growth and, as such, is an important component in the transition to a fossil-free society. Equally important though is how these charging points operate, and how they integrate into the society we live in.
Here are some predictions from CTEK about what they think will happen, as we strive to meet Government targets.

1. Open standards and load balancing are becoming increasingly important

The connection of the charging points is one of the most important aspects for building stable electrical systems and overcoming possible power problems in urban areas. Open protocols like OCPP (open charge point protocol) should be standard. All charging points and networks should also be able to balance loads, which means optimising charging based on the needs and capacity of the grid, individual households and properties. Smart and safe charging benefits society at large.

2. EV roaming to make an entrance

In mainland Europe, a number of operators like E.ON drive and Vattenfall inCharge have now entered into ‘EV roaming’ agreements that will open up the EV charging infrastructure for drivers, giving them access to thousands of charging locations worldwide, in much the same way as data roaming agreements work for mobile phones. This is a really positive development for EV drivers, and one that we would expect to see making its way to the UK fairly soon. EV roaming also fits well with the UK’s environmental goals, and wider global sustainability goals.

3. Payment solutions will be simplified

When it comes to payment solutions, there are many players in the market today  which is a good thing, but it has also led to a plethora of different payment methods at charging stations. As an EV owner, you may need to carry several RFID tags in the glove box to charge on the roads. If you come to a new charging post, you may also need to scan a QR code and register on a website, or in an app, to charge your vehicle. Work is underway on EU legislation which would require operators to open their chargers to everyone in a non-discriminatory and transparent way, and allow debit card payments. Whether the UK Government decides to follow this legislation is yet to be seen, but hopefully 2022 will be the year when we exchange RFID tags, QR codes and apps for the ability to easily tap our mobile phones, and use our debit cards, when we need to top up our car batteries.

The evolving international ISO 15118 standard for ‘vehicle to grid’ communications is a real game changer, as it will enable an EV to simply ‘plug and charge’. You don’t need all the different RFID tags and payments cards, the car automatically identifies itself to the charging station, and the cost of the charging session is then automatically taken from your debit or credit card – as simple as that!

4. Areas of growth

Although home chargers will remain the biggest market in real terms (around 74%), we predict that chargers for commercial fleet will see the fastest growth, followed by destination, workplace and roadside charging.

Many companies are already realising the benefits of fleet electrification. As well as the clear environmental benefits, the cost of running an EV are considerably lower than a petrol or diesel vehicle, and there are significant tax benefits for the company, and employees personally. The Government offers grants of 35% (up to £3,500) off the price of an electric car and up to 20% (up to £8,000) off an electric van. We can expect to see increasing Government pressure on businesses to make more environmentally sound choices about the vehicles they provide for staff, so installing EV chargers now is a smart futureproofing move.

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