November 10, 2021

Overcoming EV adoption barriers with smart charging solutions

As the adoption of electric cars proliferates throughout Europe, electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions are entering the next phase of development. Beyond building a widespread network of charging stations, and ensuring they are supplied with green energy, ongoing innovation in the area of smart charging solutions is vital to alleviate persistent concerns and truly advance the mobility transition. 

In the first half of 2021, EV sales in Europe increased by 157% compared to the same period last year. In Germany, new EV registrations have increased by a factor of eight over the past three years. Now, governments and companies across the continent are further strengthening their commitments to switch to e-mobility: the EU, under the Fit for 55 package, will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035, the UK by 2030, and Norway by 2025. Similarly, Volvo and Ford, among others, have declared that they will go all-electric in Europe by 2030, while Jaguar is aiming for 2025.

However, people and companies still have their reservations. Element’s 2021 EV Readiness Client Survey found that the three major barriers to EV fleet adoption were higher vehicle costs, new charging infrastructure costs and range, or charge, anxiety. 

Myth busting

By looking at the long term, taking advantage of government incentives and utilizing intelligent solutions, these three perceived barriers become largely unfounded. 

1. Higher vehicle costs

The EU’s Green Stimulus project, NextGenerationEU, includes a 20 billion euro package to support the sales of cleaner vehicles. Individual countries also offer many tax breaks and subsidies to encourage the adoption of cleaner vehicles. In fact, EV drivers are currently taxed on average just 63% of what drivers of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars pay. In countries like Austria, Greece, Ireland and the UK, EVs are fully exempt from driver taxation. 

In addition, a consumer report found that owning an electric vehicle will save the typical driver $6,000-$10,000 over the life of the vehicle compared to owning a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle – they would require 60% less to power it and half as much on repair and maintenance costs. At scale, this adds up to significant savings.

Around half of an electric vehicle’s costs are owed to the battery, the prices of which have already decreased by 89% in the last decade. Lower production costs mean that EVs are on the brink of mass-market appeal. After this point, however, government incentives will cease, along with other benefits of early adoption – such as cementing a reputation for sustainability and innovation. This means the time is ripe for EV adoption.

2. Range anxiety / charge anxiety

Fears of running out of charge or having to spend longer times charging an EV continue to prevent many people from making the switch to electric. According to a survey from Nissan, however, European EV drivers are traveling 630km more than owners of petrol or diesel cars per year, and 70% remark that their experience of EV driving autonomy has been better than they expected. This shows that charge and range anxiety has a lot to do with lack of education. 

In 2020, there were over 200 000 public charging points in the EU and an average of 19 fast public charging points per 100km on European highways. Fast charging stations, like those from Fastned, are able to charge EVs with 100% renewable energy up to 300km range in just 15 minutes, depending on the model. And with 8 in 10 drivers travelling on average less than 100km a day, EV charging capacities already largely exceed drivers’ needs.

3. Charging infrastructure costs

Required increase in EV charging infrastructure in Europe

Government incentives and subsidies also extend to EV charging infrastructure, with significant benefits available to those installing charging stations – a necessary measure as Europe aims to increase publicly available charging points by a factor of 15 to reach three million by 2030. In Germany, new houses with more than five parking spots are now required to have EV charging stations. Meanwhile, new legislation in the UK requires all newly built homes and offices to feature not only electric vehicle chargers, but also smart charging devices to better manage the increased electrical consumption. 

Smart charging solutions available on XENON play a huge role in reducing both upfront and ongoing costs, and enhancing convenience for users. Here’s how:

  • Automated algorithms working on a millisecond basis are able to protect the fuse and avoid grid overloads – this removes the need for expensive grid extensions and keeps grid fees to a minimum
  • Algorithms that optimize charging within longer timeframes can create charging profiles based on forecasted energy loads and PV generation
  • Frontend solutions that gather customer requirements such as desired departure time or required range optimize the distribution of energy and heighten convenience
  • Integrations via an API allow external signals – either market-based or from grid operators – to improve pricing and load balancing

The underrated enabler: smart charging 

Smart charging as trigger to widespread EV adoption
Smart charging as trigger to widespread EV adoption

How does this technology solve problems across the entire mobility value chain? Well, by increasing transparency and integration between assets, as well as between stakeholders, our XENON platform makes the entire energy system more intelligent and flexible. The smart charging solutions that can be custom-built upon it make EV charging infrastructure more scalable and affordable. And so continues the cycle of innovation, cheaper, more convenient charging, and increased adoption, ultimately simplifying the path to net-zero mobility.  

In the largest public charging station in Essen, for example, an innovative dynamic load management system powered by XENON optimizes charging while taking local conditions into account. This allows the parking lot to increase the number of charging points but avoid the high costs of connecting to the medium-voltage grid.

Bidirectional charging – which enables vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) capabilities – allows the car to act as a battery to store extra energy reserves and draw from this if needed. As being tested in the xSite project, this drastically enhances flexibility. 

By enabling users to set personalized charging schedule profiles for specific hours or days based on various parameters, such as individual mobility requirements, PV generation, building energy consumption patterns etc, new features on XENON ensure that available power is optimally used and all EVs always reach at least their minimum charging requirement. This adds an extra layer of convenience to green mobility. With ongoing innovation in the field of smart charging, the thought of wasting so much time and hassle finding a petrol station and manually filling a car with expensive, dirty fuel will no doubt soon become an unfathomable pastime.

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