Navigant Research Blog

The Door to Sharing EV Charging Data Is Now Open

— January 30, 2018

Industry players agree that understanding the interaction between plug-in EVs (PEVs) and the grid is critical to growing the PEV market. Utilities are interested in the analysis of charging behaviors and their impact on the daily load cycles so that they can plan for the additional load. In the US, with the exception of government-funded enterprises such as the EV Project, charging data collected by utilities, automakers, and charging service providers (CSPs) has remained proprietary to their organizations.

Electrify America Leading the Way

However, in the foreseeable future, investments by the likely largest funder of EV charging infrastructure in the US will spur greater openness by CSPs on charging data. Electrify America, the Volkswagen (VW) company that was created to comply with the terms of the diesel settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency, has been selecting CSPs that support open standards to enable the sharing of charging data.

On January 23, Electrify America, which will spend $2 billion over 10 years on charging infrastructure, awarded a contract to Greenlots to be the operating platform for an upcoming network of high power DC fast chargers. According to the press release, “Greenlots’ technology will enable Electrify America to effectively build, operate, and manage its high power charging network by providing real-time charger health status, utilization data, dynamic pricing capabilities, and predictive analytics.” In addition, Greenlots’ CEO Brett Hauser said that the company’s SKY platform will roll up data from all of the charging hardware, regardless of the vendor.

Installing Chargers

In December 2017, Electrify America announced that it would install 2,800 Level 2 chargers in workplace and residential locations in 17 of the biggest metropolitan areas across the US. For the project, which also includes multifamily and designated low income and disadvantaged community areas, Electrify America selected Greenlots, EV Connect, and SemaConnect as its CSP partners.

Both Greenlots and SemaConnect are participants in the Alliance for Transportation Electrification, a group that launched in November 2017 to promote open standards, help shape state policies and rate structures, and facilitate expansion of EV infrastructure. The open standard that the group supports is the open charge point protocol (OCPP), an international standard with origins in Europe that is gaining momentum in the US. OCPP is supported by Greenlots, EV Connect, and many of the largest global CSPs, as well as BMW.

Observing Results and Driving Adoption

By selecting vendors focused on storing and sharing data in a standard format, Electrify America will be able to see what is happening across its network, regardless of which vendor’s equipment is being used or which CSP is managing the equipment. For example, it will be able to track patterns of how electricity consumption from PEVs is influenced by weather, how the hourly load impact differs by region, or how charger utilization in different geographies can inform future investments in charging infrastructure.

While not all EV CSPs have embraced the notion of standardizing and sharing data, the size of Electrify America’s investment will likely encourage greater adoption of this notion from charging companies looking to get in on the action of VW’s substantial investments. The next formidable hurdle is for automotive manufacturers to also embrace open charging data. It is an encouraging step that Britta Gross of GM is among the participants in the Alliance for Transportation Electrification. Industry observers will be watching to see who joins this movement next.

 

Costa Rica Plans for Sustainable EV Future

— January 4, 2018

Up until now, plug-in EVs (PEVs) have been about as popular as snowshoes in Latin America due to the higher cost of the vehicles and lack of governmental focus on reducing transportation carbon emissions. However, in Costa Rica, government agencies are developing policies and infrastructure to lure automakers to send PEVs and to get consumers excited about the technology.

A Small but Ambitious Market

Costa Rica may not seem like the ideal location to grow a PEV market. The country has a gross national income per capita of just over $10,000 per year (as of 2015, per World Bank statistics), whereas most PEVs cost north of $40,000 and would be out of realistic reach for most consumers. The vehicle market is also small (just 154,000 vehicles sold annually), so it is not a top priority market for automakers to support PEV sales.

Nevertheless, with tourism to its sandy beaches and internationally renowned rain forest contributing 5% of Costa Rica’s gross domestic product, the government wants the country to project an eco-friendly image and participate in global efforts to combat climate change.

The country has set a goal of getting 37,000 PEVs on the road by 2022. On December 15, 2017, Costa Rica passed its first incentives for EV purchases, which include exemptions on the sales, consumption, and customs import taxes. According to a report from Nacion.com, this would reduce the final cost of a PEV by about 24%.

Growing Support for PEVs

Federal organizations in Costa Rica are also planning support for PEVs. The state-run utility led by Grupo ICE and Costa Rica’s integrated ministry of energy and environment (MINAE) both shared steps they are taking to promote EVs at the Third Annual Latin America Clean Transport Forum, which was held in San Jose, Costa Rica on September 20, 2017.

ICE said that with 76.6% of its power generation coming from renewables, the carbon savings of switching transportation from liquid fuels to electricity can be significant. Since 92% of residents live in private homes, pervasive access to home EV charging should smooth the introduction to PEVs. Also, the mild climate (an average temperature of 25°C) would enable PEV batteries to provide greater range and durability than in places with harsher weather. The utility is now investigating the barriers to PEV adoption and infrastructure requirements (such as charging levels and standards for collecting data) to prepare for their introduction.

EV Policy Development and Logistical Challenges

MINAE is developing a national policy for transportation electrification that will be released as part of the annual Oficializado Plan Nacional de Energía, which was due at the end of 2017 but does not appear to have been published yet. The national EV policy will set achievable goals for reducing emissions in transportation, including light and commercial vehicles as well as mass transit. These goals will align with the country’s overall climate change targets.

Despite these efforts, getting automakers’ attention to prioritize Costa Rica and other Latin American nations as PEV markets will be a challenge. With no local manufacturing plants, PEVs currently have to be imported into Latin America, and the higher cost of shipping the vehicles will need to be offset by local incentives. Consumer education in places where PEVs are rarely seen will require concerted effort from both the public and private sectors. Importing used PEVs, which have low resale values and could be used in fleets, is an effective method of introducing target customers to the capabilities of PEVs and building buzz around the technology.

 

European Powerhouses Invest in EV Assets

— December 21, 2017

The days of the internal combustion engine in Europe appear to be numbered, as the governments of the UK, Germany, and Norway all plan to end petrol and diesel car sales in the coming decades. The newly empowered replacement market of plug-in EVs (PEVs) continues to rapidly grow, and a trifecta of industries (energy, fuels, and automakers) is jockeying for position in powering PEVs.

Electrifying Partnerships

Fuel company Shell gobbled up EV charging company NewMotion earlier in 2017, and it announced a partnership with Daimler, BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen in November 2017 to install the group’s Ionity EV chargers at Shell locations across Europe. In September 2017, NewMotion signed a deal to provide access to its network of EV chargers to the customers of France’s Total. Competing oil major BP has been in talks with automakers to offer EV charging at its fuel station in Europe, according to Reuters.

Tie-ups between fueling station operators and PEV makers and charging companies make sense since the number of cars in need of petrol will only shrink in future years, so both are looking to provide similar services to PEV drivers rather than concede market share. Ultra-fast charging, at 300 kW or greater, makes sense at these locations since many PEVs will be able to get an 80% (or greater) charge in 15 minutes or less, during which customers can buy snacks, grab fast food, or take a bio break. (I presented on this topic to at the recent NACS Fuels Summit Latin America in Buenos Aires, Argentina.)

Power to the PEVs

European utilities rightly see PEVs as the greatest opportunity to increase load, and the somewhat flexible nature of EV charging allows for managed charging to balance the natural peaks and valleys in electricity supply and demand. Germany’s RWE was in early on EV charging and sells charging infrastructure and other EV-related services through its spinoff company Innogy. Also based in Germany, E.ON is deploying a fast charging corridor from Norway down to Italy in partnership with e-mobility service provider CLEVER. Global sales of direct current (DC) fast chargers are expected to reach 70,000 units annually by 2026, according to Navigant Research’s newest report on DC fast charging.

French energy company ENGIE has also been active, acquiring charging infrastructure company EV-Box in March as well as investing in e-scooter company Gogoro in September 2017. E-bikes, e-scooters, and e-motorcycles need to replenish energy as well, and we’ll likely see more companies offer more than light duty vehicle charging services.

Italy’s Enel reached across the Atlantic to acquire eMotorwerks, an EV charging services company that is also working on vehicle-to-grid integration services. In the UK, a consortium including energy companies National Grid, British Gas, ScottishPower, and ESB is researching the potential for integrating PEVs into operations across the UK.

Down the Road

The EV charging market remains highly fragmented with many small players. Utilities and energy companies have recognized that the stakes (and revenue potential) are much higher with ultra-fast charging and the rapid expansion of PEV models for sale. Making a profit by marking up electrons has proved challenging for startup companies. Energy companies with distribution networks and utilities that understand high power delivery believe they are well-positioned to manage power delivery through EV charging assets. Combining EV charging with other home energy management services is a desired business model for automakers, generation, and distribution companies alike. They will, however, face competition from the US’ largest EV charging network—ChargePoint—which has been fundraising to expand its European operations and has received investment from Siemens, Daimler, BMW, and others.

 

Integration of EVs Becoming a Priority for Utilities

— September 26, 2017

Utilities are rapidly coming off the sidelines and tackling the opportunity to integrate EVs head on. Sales of plug-in EVs (PEVs) in the United States have reached nearly 120,000 units so far in 2017, up 28% from the same period last year, according to HybridCars.com. Utilities are more actively planning to accommodate the growing numbers of cars plugging in at residences, workplaces, and in public spaces. Utilities also are working toward using the largely controllable load to balance renewable generation assets.

PacifiCorp Making Moves

In Oregon, PacifiCorp reached an agreement with the Oregon Public Utility Commission (Oregon PUC) and other stakeholders to invest $2 million in EV charging infrastructure that will include the “incorporation of emerging technologies, such as renewable generation, energy storage or direct load control.” PacifiCorp joins fellow Oregon utilities Portland General Electric and Avista in piloting EV charging investment in order to better serve EV drivers and provide more flexibility in managing the grid.

Developments in Ohio and California Enable Integration

In Ohio, AEP and a group of stakeholders reached an agreement to provide rebates of up to 100% for installing charging stations. The $9.5 million deal will include both Level 2 and DC fast charging stations, including a provision to spend 10% in low income communities. Pending approval, the spending plan would be implemented as part of the Smart Columbus electrification program that will coordinate with power provider AEP Ohio’s efforts to increase the amount of renewable generation.

In the PEV leading state of California, utilities and automakers are working to standardize and expand vehicle-to-grid integration. The Vehicle-Grid Integration Communications Protocol Working Group is developing recommendations for the California PUC in response to an earlier executive order that mandates that EV charging be integrated into grid operations. The working group is expected to complete its recommendations in October 2017.

Revenue Rises in Next 3 Years

By 2020, annual EV charging services revenue in the United States will reach $900 million, according to Navigant Research’s report Electric Vehicle Charging Impacts. By necessity, utilities will play a pivotal role in delivering and managing the power delivered to PEVs. Due to the flexibility in timing when vehicles are charged, and their benefits as mobile energy storage units, utilities increasingly view EV charging as integral to management of distributed energy resources (DER).

EV charging services company eMotorWerks is building products to integrate charging into grid operations The company, which according to ChargedEVs is working with Pacific Gas and Electric and Sonoma Clean Power to intelligently manage its EV charging units, has reduced the price of its smart charging stations by $50.

Learn about PEV Integration

A great place to learn about how PEVs are being integrated into grid operations is the EVs & The Grid Summit, which will be held October 17-19 in San Francisco. The event will feature panels focused on the impacts of fast charging and utility EV rate programs, and I will be moderating a panel on regulatory programs from across the United States.

 

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