Charging ahead with EVs


By James Kennedy*
Thursday, 03 May, 2018


Charging ahead with EVs

There is a global awareness that electric vehicles are key to reducing greenhouse gases and delivering clean, sustainable transport systems. Charging infrastructure to support electric vehicle uptake has, therefore, become an important topic of discussion for governments, investors and suppliers.

Discussions around the role of charging infrastructure in EV uptake initially gets stuck in a classic chicken-and-egg scenario. If there is not a good public charging infrastructure in place, drivers have range anxiety and lack the confidence to purchase EVs. At the same time, investing in charging infrastructure is uneconomical if there are not enough electric vehicles on the road. To get unstuck from this scenario, range anxiety and investment in charging infrastructure need to be addressed.

DC fast chargers provide a way to overcome range anxiety and perceived range barriers. It can quickly add range to an electric vehicle to make long journeys possible. A network of DC fast chargers makes electric vehicles more attractive to potential buyers and helps to increase adoption rates.

Fast charging is a relatively new technology that began significant deployment post-2013. The 50 kW fast chargers can charge an EV in 30 minutes. In 2018, 175–475 kW ultra-fast charging is already a reality. This is a very exciting development, also referred to as High Power Charging (HPC) in the industry. More charging options for EV drivers will significantly reduce range anxiety, make long-distance driving in a limited-range EV feasible, promote awareness and boost range confidence in prospective buyers.

Initial investment and support by government, car manufacturers and investors will kickstart adoption of this technology. Some car manufacturers have already started building their own charging networks, and many governments and utilities have already created programs to encourage the deployment of charging infrastructure through incentives and partnerships.

Norway’s EV uptake is amongst the highest in the world and the country is a leading example of how generous government support in charging infrastructure can drive EV adoption. In 2017, more than half of the new cars were EVs or hybrids and 20% of these were zero emission. Tritium has also seen an increasing demand for widespread fast charging infrastructure in this market.

There is still a challenging learning curve in terms of what the best policies and initiatives are to overcome barriers to EV uptake, and the best way to deploy charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. What we do know for sure is that fast charging is quickly gaining interest and growth on a global scale, and is playing an ever-increasing role in EV uptake and adoption.

In 2013, Tritium launched the award-winning Veefil-RT, a 50 kW DC fast charger for EVs. Today, Tritium  exports to 22 countries around the world.  In 2018, Tritium will again be instrumental in bringing the latest 175–475kW ultra-fast High Power Charging (HPC) stations to market.

Ultra-fast HPC chargers are game changers. EV drivers will benefit from these chargers at highway rest stops, petrol stations and inner city areas because the charging time will be under 8 minutes. These scalable and flexible solutions will go a long way to grow EV uptake.

Tritium is already supplying fast chargers to some of the leading global networks around the world like Norway, Germany and the UK. In Australia, Queensland launched the world’s longest EV fast-charging network in 2017, and Tritium supplied most of the fast chargers for this network. To encourage uptake, the chargers are free to use at first. The Queensland Electric Vehicle Super Highway, as it is called, provides a network of fast-charging EV stations allowing drivers to travel from the state’s southern border to the far north, recharging on renewable electricity along the way.

In 2017, Tritium supplied Belgian EDF Luminus with all the fast chargers for the Belgium phase of the fast charging corridor connecting France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Veefil chargers were deployed along the Belgium motorway system, linking the country’s major cities.

James Kennedy is the Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Tritium, a Brisbane-based company specialising in the design and manufacture of electric vehicle fast charging infrastructure. His valuable battery management expertise was used in James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenger submarine that reached the deepest spot in the ocean in 2012.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/OnnoIllustration

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