Are Energy Managers ready for an upsurge in on-site energy demand?

The recent commitment from the UK Government to phase out Internal Combustion Engine cars by 2040 was not as ambitious as many would have liked, and certainly not as ambitious as the 2032 date set by the Scottish Parliament, but it will encourage vehicle manufacturers to continue spending their R&D budgets on Electric Vehicle (EV) development, and new and better models will emerge from their production lines as uptake continues.

To comply with CSR and sustainability commitments and to attract and retain staff that have a desire for low cost and low carbon transport, deployment of EV charge-points must continue to gather pace. This is very good news for air quality and may be beneficial to any company’s expansion plans, with planning authorities carefully considering the impact of any increase in local traffic.

At one or two percent of staff or customer parking spaces provided with charge-points the implications for Energy Managers may be minimal but with ten, twenty percent or more there will be a substantial increase in energy consumption. Even if the existing supply can accommodate this increase, consider the implications if twenty percent of the vehicles in your carpark are plugged in and charging in the red-rate period, let alone during a triad event.

The transition to EV’s for company fleets is also to be welcomed and will offer cost reductions for Fleet Managers however charging those vehicles will require careful management to realise the potential bottom line savings for the whole company.

Early charge-point manufacturers largely ignored the obvious long-term problems, selling only the limited numbers of dumb terminals as an incoming supply could support. More forward-thinking suppliers have developed smart chargers, enabling wider deployment as loads can be managed, reduced and curtailed depending on supply, demand, time of day or even where the vehicle needs to get to next. These smart chargers can also be set with multiple tariffs to enable payment for electricity used. The next generation of charge-points will offer benefits through Vehicle to Grid capability which could mean plugged in vehicles supplying energy back into the building at peak periods. This Vehicle to Business concept is currently at the trial stage and not yet commercialised but holds great promise for the future.

Where does that leave companies considering current EV charge-point requirements? Future proofing is essential. Civil engineering works for charge-points can be expensive and should only be done once with infrastructure scoped for future requirements. Take a holistic approach that allows for future expansion and considers where the energy is coming from. Assess any on-site renewable generation options such as rooftop or carport solar, and look at how battery storage might solve peak demand problems and generate revenue from grid services.

There are multi-departmental benefits to an EV transition, especially for early adopters capitalising on the PR opportunities. With proper planning the risks can be mitigated, the costs can be kept to a minimum and the benefits can be fully realised with positive results felt across the business.

By: Guy Morrison Sales Director for FlexiSolar – the UK’s leading solar carport systems integrator. His background is in large-scale and commercial solar PV, storage and peak shaving solutions, and the EV infrastructure industry. FlexiSolar are delighted to be exhibiting again at EMEX-London 2017