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The number of electric vehicles (EVs) on Europe’s roads keeps on growing. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), the market share of both battery electric cars and plug-in hybrids nearly doubled in the EU in the third quarter of 2021.
However, alongside this rapid growth, there are considerable challenges facing the EV sector in Europe. These include ‘range anxiety’, the availability of chargers and the whole EV ownership experience.
Leading EV charging solutions companies need to accelerate delivery and that’s why NewMotion and Greenlots are rebranding as Shell Recharge Solutions in early 2022. The move will provide a simpler customer experience under one brand and help Shell accelerate towards their goal of operating 500,000 charge points by 2025.
Alan McCleave is the Regional Manager UK and Nordics, NewMotion. He says the transition to e-mobility itself poses various social, economic, and infrastructure challenges, although these can vary by country.
“In order to convince as many people as possible of the advantages of electric mobility, we need to do the best we can to educate individuals and support them to decide whether an EV is right for them and most importantly, have the ability to charge,” says McCleave.
“This comes hand-in-hand with the need to supply solutions for all. Individuals living in an apartment block with no charge points, for example, may want access to off-street charging to consider getting an EV. So, it’s about how we can remove possible obstacles and provide easy access to charging for all in order to motivate individuals and achieve the transition to e-mobility.”
The grid also poses a challenge to EV adoption. This includes the question of how to help the grid manage demand at peak times.
“It’s important that people can charge without any consequences, and as such, the grid will need to be robust enough to help balance energy supply at peak times. Smart charging is one mechanism that can help with this, and we’ve seen successful trials recently in Germany and the Netherlands,” he explains.
When EV adoption is discussed, the issue of so-called ‘range anxiety’ is never far away.
“On the basis that we have charging solutions for the home, the workplace and on the go, including at various destinations like supermarkets and coffee shops, this should help everyone recognise they can access charging points wherever they are!”
“Working with ubitricity, an on-street charging company also owned by Shell, we will be able to offer different solutions for our various groups of customers. This helps specifically address range anxiety and demonstrates that we are committed to ensuring EV owners always have access to charging,” adds McCleave.
High Speed Industry Developments
Technological developments and innovations are also set to play a role in improving the EV ownership experience. For example, smart home charging – a future offering – will allow individuals to set charge schedules in line with time of use and electricity tariffs. This means the customer can charge at a cheaper rate during off-peak times – while also easing pressure on the grid.
“Additionally, business EV drivers will benefit from being able to charge at home and automatically bill this energy usage back to their employer, saving considerable time. It’s something that will really enable company EV usage,” he explains.
“Smart home charging can also support the grid by giving grid operators the ability to slow down charge speed or speed it up, depending on whether there is an under or overproduction of energy.”
The next step in this line of innovation is V2X bidirectional charging, or Vehicle-to-Everything. The technology is similar to V2G, or Vehicle-to-Grid, with the difference being that V2X can send energy to the vehicle or take energy from the vehicle and send it back to the grid, home, or building. NewMotion was one of the first companies in Europe to develop V2G and then V2X, and Shell Recharge Solutions will build onward on this expertise.
“V2X means the ability to put energy wherever it is needed, at any time, so it’s flexible in benefitting both the customer and the grid. For example, this means that the customer can come off of grid reliance at peak times.”
“These technologies are now going through a change because originally, they were based on CHAdeMO protocols and since then, almost all vehicles in Europe and the US now use CCS protocols. This means that they will be applicable to a much wider audience, rather than just vehicles with a CHAdeMO connector, for example, a Nissan Leaf generation one,” says McCleave.
Fast Forward to The Future
Looking ahead to the end of this decade, Shell Recharge Solutions aims to be one of the companies driving the anticipated acceleration in EV adoption compared to today.
“Some countries will reach nearly 100% adoption in the very near future, such as Norway. This means there will be significantly more charge points in all countries and charging on the go will be readily available for any journey length or scenario. If you need a rapid charge to continue a longer journey, for example, or just a slower charge to top up at the local cinema to get you home.”
“In terms of the technology, we are already hearing about faster chargers, such as 350 kW chargers. These will become more commonplace for faster 10%-80% charge times, so we will see maybe five- or ten-minute rapid charges – which is barely enough time to go and grab a coffee and comfort break!”
“Ultimately, EV charging will be much better understood in 2030 versus today, but there will still be parts of the population that won’t have transferred at that point, so the education will need to continue to ensure that everyone understands how to make the decision on transitioning to electric” concludes McCleave.