Electric vehicles (EVs) have been growing in popularity in recent years as the demand for sustainable and environmentally-friendly modes of transportation continues to rise. With the advancements in technology and increased accessibility to charging infrastructure, EVs are seen as a viable solution for individuals, governments, and businesses alike.
In this article we take a look at the
- Brief history of the EV
- Pros and Cons of electric vehicles
- Reasons why organisations are replacing their combustion engine cars for EVs
- Benefits of investing in EV charging stations
- Incorporating EV Charging into Your Net Zero Plan
- Factors to consider before transitioning to EVs
- Strategic pathway to integrate funding and implementation of EV infrastructure alongside a plethora of emission reduction solutions for a holistic approach to achieving net zero targets.
A brief history of Electric Vehicles (EVs)
Electric Vehicles have been around for a long time. Did you know the first small-scale EVs were developed in the early 1830’s (yes, the ‘eigtheen thirties’) with Scotland’s Robert Anderson, motorized carriage built sometime between 1832 and ’39. Batteries (galvanic cells) were not yet rechargeable, so it was more parlor trick than a transportation device (“Look! No horse nor ox, yet it moves!”).
Batteries that could be recharged came along in 1859, making the electric-car idea more viable. Around 1884, inventor Thomas Parker helped deploy electric-powered trams and built prototype electric cars in England. It wasn’t until the late 1880s that technological advancements in batteries and electric motors were combined by electric mobility pioneer William Morrison to create the first “practical” EV. By the turn of the century, electric vehicles became quite popular, accounting for around a third of all vehicles on the road.
Also in 1900, Porsche designed the world’s first functional hybrid car, the “Semper Vivus” (Latin for “always alive”). Porsche extended the car’s range by not using a battery as an energy source, but instead using a combustion engine to drive a generator and thus supply the wheel hub with electrical energy. One year later, the production-ready version was born as the Lohner-Porsche “Mixte”.
However, the Lohner-Porsche also demonstrated why electric mobility has failed over the decades: despite its modest power output, the car weighed almost two tonnes. The lack of infrastructure and the short range put an end to electromobility for a long time.
The idea was resurrected more than 100 years later: With the development of lithium-ion batteries suitable for use in vehicles and ever more stringent legal requirements for pollutant and carbon dioxide emissions, the focus turned once more to electric drive systems. Today, since the advent of Tesla’s dominance in the EV market, there’s a seemingly irreversible trend towards EVs with almost every major car manufacturer now committed to the production of electric vehicles.
Pros of Electric Vehicles
- Environmentally Friendly: The biggest advantage of EVs is their significantly lower carbon footprint compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles. This is because EVs are powered by electricity, which can be generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to a cleaner environment.
- Lower Operating Costs: Despite the upfront cost of purchasing an EV being higher than a traditional gas-powered vehicle, the operating costs are much lower. This is because EVs have fewer moving parts and require less maintenance. Additionally, the cost of electricity is generally lower than petrol/gasoline, making it more cost-effective to charge an EV compared to filling up a traditional vehicle.
- Quiet and Smooth Ride: EVs are known for their quiet and smooth ride. The lack of engine noise and vibration makes for a more comfortable and relaxing driving experience.
Cons of Electric Vehicles:
- Limited Range: One of the biggest drawbacks of EVs is their limited range compared to traditional gas-powered vehicles. This can make long trips challenging for some drivers and may require planning ahead for charging.
- Lack of Charging Infrastructure: While the number of charging stations is increasing, there is still a lack of charging infrastructure in many areas, which can be inconvenient for EV drivers.
- Higher Upfront Cost: The upfront cost of purchasing an EV is generally higher than a traditional gas-powered vehicle, which can be a barrier for some consumers.
Reasons for Organisastions to Replace their Vehicle Fleet with EVs
- Cost Savings: Replacing a fleet with EVs can lead to significant cost savings in the long run. The lower operating costs of EVs, as well as potential government incentives, can offset the higher upfront cost of purchasing EVs.
- Improved Brand Image: By transitioning to a more sustainable mode of transportation, organizations can improve their brand image and reputation as environmentally-conscious and responsible.
- Increased Productivity: With the quiet and smooth ride of EVs, employees can be more productive and less stressed during their daily commutes.
Investing in EV Charging Stations: Benefits of Having EV Charging Stations on Site
There are several reasons why companies should invest in EV charging stations:
- Convenience: Providing charging stations on site allows employees and customers to conveniently charge their EVs, increasing the usability and adoption of EVs.
- Customer Attraction: By providing charging stations, companies can attract environmentally-conscious customers and potentially increase foot traffic to their businesses.
- Employee Benefits: Providing charging stations for employees can increase job satisfaction and help retain valuable employees.
- Cost Savings: By providing charging stations on site, companies can potentially reduce the amount of time employees need to spend charging their EVs elsewhere and increase their productivity.
- Increased Sustainability: Installing charging stations on site demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and can contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of a company.
- Revenue Generation: Companies can generate revenue by offering charging services to the public and potentially offset the cost of installing and maintaining the charging stations.
As more businesses and organisations aim to achieve net zero emissions, integrating EV charging into their sustainability plans is becoming increasingly important. Here are some factors to consider when incorporating EV charging into an organisation’s net zero plan:
Oversizing Solar: Solar panels generate energy during the day, but EV charging often occurs at night when solar production is lower. To ensure that there is sufficient renewable energy to power EV charging, it is recommended to oversize solar panel systems. This can help to maximise the use of renewable energy, reduce the reliance on grid electricity, and minimise electricity costs. According to data from the Australian PV Institute, a 7.5 kW solar system can generate enough energy to power an electric vehicle for approximately 45 kilometers per day.
Impact on Network Charges: When adding EV charging infrastructure, it is important to consider the impact on network charges. If multiple EVs are charged simultaneously, this can lead to peak demand, which can result in higher network charges. However, by optimising the timing of charging and integrating EV charging with other building loads, such as HVAC systems, it is possible to reduce the impact on network charges.
Battery Storage: Energy storage systems, such as batteries, can be used to store excess solar energy and provide power for EV charging when solar production is low. This can help to minimise reliance on grid electricity and reduce energy costs.
Load Management: Load management strategies can be used to optimize the timing of EV charging and minimise peak demand. For example, charging can be scheduled during off-peak hours when electricity prices are lower. Smart charging systems can also be used to manage the charging of multiple EVs, ensuring that the charging is spread out and does not occur simultaneously.
EV Fleet Management: For businesses or organizations with large EV fleets, it is important to implement an effective fleet management system. This can help to optimise the use of EVs and minimise downtime, reduce operating costs, and maximise energy efficiency. By incorporating these factors into a net zero plan, it is possible to ensure that EV charging infrastructure is integrated in a way that maximises the use of renewable energy, minimises reliance on grid electricity, and optimises energy efficiency. This can help to minimise energy costs, reduce carbon emissions, and achieve net zero energy goals.
Factors to Consider Before Proceeding with EVs
Upfront Cost: The upfront cost of purchasing EVs, as well as the cost of installing and maintaining charging stations, should be carefully considered before making the transition. The high upfront cost can be a barrier to most organisations, who are increasingly looking towards innovative funding and service delivery options.
Renewable Energy: charging infrastructure should also be powered by on-site renewable energy ideally coupled with battery storage (for the chargers to work at night), otherwise the additional demand for electricity needed to charge EVs would be contributing more emissions than what it intends to eliminate.
Integrated holistic approach through Energy as a Service
The major downside to EVs, and particularly EV charging infrastructure is the high upfront cost to build the infrastructure to support EVs. Large organisations with ambitious sustainability targets and considering EVs may want to consider looking beyond only EVs and adopt a holisitc approach to emissions reduction across their entire portfolio. This means looking at all possible means of emissions reduction and energy efficiency to ensure targets are achieved.
The most effective way to fund and implement large scale emissions reduction solutions and achieve Net Zero is through Energy as a Service (EaaS) . An EaaS is a client-centric outcomes focused services agreement whereby the EaaS Partner (e.g. 3E Group) designs, funds and implements a holistic suite of solutions aimed at accelerating progress towards net zero. This is achieved through an integrated funding and service delivery of emission reduction solutions including: Solar PV, energy storage, EV charging infrastructure, District Heating and Cooling Systems (DHC), CCTV/traffic management, Digital modelling/Twin/Simulation, smart lighting/parking, waste and water efficiency solutions.
At 3E Group, we partner with you to co-create sustainable, connected and integrated energy infrastructure solutions for business, precincts and territories. EaaS covers a combination of energy, water, waste, infrastructure, services and digital solutions that support Net Zero ambitions. Learn more about Energy as a Service and get in touch with the net zero experts.