Everything a solar EPC should know about EV charging

Ronan de la Gournerie

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Nearly 8 million electric vehicles are on the road worldwide. The fast-growing trend of electric mobility brought to life by the recent and significant improvements in battery technologies is making EVs an attractive proposition to a growing audience. This trend is accelerating and is seen as a critical contributor to global decarbonization efforts.

Although there are very ambitious plans to roll out EV charging infrastructure, it is not without causing major disruption at various levels of the value chain. The EV charging equivalent of modern gas stations presents a set of challenges that, in most cases, make solar microgrids the most compelling infrastructure to tackle these issues. 

The use of smart control strategies for charging EVs is the main lever to meet specific objectives whether they are to promote self-consumption, increase revenue, help balance the grid, or reduce the ecological footprint.

Characteristics and advantages of implementing EV charging with PV

Charging stations

Charging stations are diverse in terms of nature and typology. The fact that they can be powered through the grid, PV, or batteries gives some flexibility to the microgrid. 

As a Solar EPC, in order to select the best configuration for your charging station you need to define what is the primary use of this system this can be : 

  • Assure a fast-charging service to the final user

  • Use the excess of local PV production

  • Minimize grid power purchase from the building

  • Reduce the carbon footprint of the building

  • Provide grid services to the local utility

Among that understanding, you need to understand also the final client load to define the best strategy.

Commercial or workplace buildings

In commercial and industrial buildings, EV charging demand is mostly correlated with PV excess production. However, during cloudy days or evenings control strategies need to be implemented in Solar EV charging stations. Indeed, with commercial and workplace building, smart charging strategies can be based on relatively fixed parameters contributing to higher levels of predictability such as the building load profile, arrival/departure times of EVs, and their battery state of charge.

Control strategies

Once the primary uses and the load profile of the building are identified, a control strategy has to be implemented in this microgrid in order to be resilient to strong variations such as the number of EVs, PV Production, state of charge of batteries, and incorporating new regulations or policies.

In order to rip the most benefit from specific smart control charging strategies, cooperation between the EV driver and the charging stations will be crucial. Indeed, the desired outcome from EV owners and charging stations managers are not necessarily aligned with one another.

In order to reach their preferred outcome, charging stations will incentivize drivers to choose the program that suits them best.

How to manage all these energy supplies?

Solar EV charging coupled with grid offers control strategies for behind the meter or in front of the meter applications. It is made apparent that a successful synergy might be possible using smart control strategies by harnessing and mastering the numerous influencing parameters. 

The energy management of a site with different energy sources, including PV, becomes a challenge that the implementation of our EMS, the ePower Control, within the grid makes it easier. It allows :

  • Anomaly detection on the scale of a portfolio of self-consumption charging stations
  • Smart charging application: control of the charging speed of the terminal depending on the state of charge of the batteries, PV production, and Building load.
  • Vehicle to Grid applications: control of the Electric Vehicle battery to whether charge or discharge it according to the instructions received by the local utility.

A monitoring and control system is therefore essential to carry out the services linked to the terminal.