E-vehicles are experiencing a real boom due to rising gasoline prices and the political goal of CO2 neutrality. But there is still a lack of the appropriate infrastructure at public buildings, offices, company parking lots and at the place of residence.
The topic of e-charging infrastructure is very complex, as many aspects have to be taken into account, from technical building equipment to energy requirements and legal frameworks to billing. The search is therefore on for solutions that are practicable and economically justifiable.
By Florian Günther, Authorized Signatory and Team Leader TGA, CANZLER GmbH
Thanks to longer ranges and government subsidies, one in four (26%) newly registered vehicles is now a climate-friendly electric vehicle. 356,000 new passenger cars with purely electric drive systems were added in 2021. In 2020, the figure was 194,163 and 63,281 in 2019. The German Federal Network Agency reported an increase in publicly accessible charging points of around 11,600 in 2021; consequently, a total of 50,901 charging points were available at the end of the year. According to the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), an average of 17 e-cars shared one charging point in Germany on January 1, 2021 - in October, the number had already risen to 21. This glaring disparity shows that the biggest challenge remains the charging infrastructure.
Where is charging capacity needed?
To make charging more convenient for the growing number of e-car drivers, they expect charging options at their place of residence, preferably right outside their front door, at their place of work or at busy public facilities such as hospitals, sports and leisure facilities, universities, senior citizen and care facilities and the like. Real estate owners and the public sector are therefore called upon to create the appropriate infrastructure.
Where is there a need for what?
But how do you calculate the need for e-charging columns for a property? The easiest way to determine this is to ask tenants and users whether they own an electric car or intend to buy one. It is important to clarify how long the parking period is and whether the car will be parked for a short period of time or the entire workday. How many kilometers is the journey and the resulting charging time for the return journey or the next destination? In addition, current trends should be taken into account so that demand can be planned accordingly.
Legal framework and regulations
With the installation of e-charging columns, property owners must fulfill many new operator obligations. The charging station ordinance defines the connections, the minimum technical requirements for safety and interoperability, and the notification and verification obligations. According to this, operators must ensure point charging - i.e., payment without a subscription or flat rate. Meanwhile, the calibration law regulates the equipment of the charging infrastructure with regard to meters as well as the consumption- and time-based billing of electricity.
In March 2021, the Building Electric Mobility Infrastructure Act (GEIG) came into force. This means that infrastructure with empty conduits and cable routes must be provided in residential properties (with more than five parking spaces) at every parking lot. However, it does not regulate how the energy supply is to be ensured. And this is precisely the crux of the matter: In the worst case scenario, the housing industry invests in an infrastructure that is not used or becomes obsolete after ten years because a different standard is required.
The ideal location
Parking space planning can be derived from the needs of tenants and users, their charging behavior, parking duration, number of vehicles and the corresponding ordinances. Where on the outside grounds or in the underground parking garage of a property the location is located depends in turn on the available space capacities. Accordingly, the energy supply, communication systems and the load management system for balancing peaks must be designed. External environmental factors such as rain or solar radiation must also be taken into account. For security reasons, appropriate lighting and video surveillance may still be required, depending on the location.
Billing and management
Publicly accessible charging points must enable point charging, i.e., spontaneous charging that is open to the system. The billing and administration effort is reduced enormously if operation is outsourced either by an energy supplier or a third-party provider. This is because in self-operation, the operator needs an electricity supply license, must take into account the reporting obligation for the EEG apportionment and the electricity tax.
Thinking ahead ecologically
If the electricity comes from renewable energy sources, an ecologically sensible cycle is created. This is achieved, for example, by means of a photovoltaic system on buildings that either supplies the energy directly to the charging stations or stores it in batteries. If the heating technology in the building is replaced, it should be examined whether it is worth converting to a combined heat and power plant in order to use surplus energy to operate the charging columns. In order to be able to guarantee the required energy demand at all times, an overriding energy concept is needed for the installation of the e-charging infrastructure that is in harmony with the technical building equipment.
Opportunities for owners and operators
With an intelligent solution for the e-charging infrastructure, owners and operators can make their property fit for the future. On the one hand, this enables them to meet the legal requirements for expanding the charging infrastructure. On the other hand, they meet the increasing demand from their users and tenants and thus offer them a concrete additional benefit. In addition, the costs remain manageable if operation and management are completely outsourced to third-party providers.