The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Accelerates EV Chargers
The law also referred to as the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, contains significant funding for EV charging stations. $5 billion for the national electric vehicle infrastructure funding program (NEIVI) and another $2.5 billion approved for discretionary grant programs.
Both programs are intended to accelerate the building of EV charging infrastructure across the US to meet future demand. A funding matrix can be found on the US Department of Transportation website.
What companies make EV chargers?
There are over 300 EV charging companies in the world. Many are less than 5 years old, and only a few older than 10. The ten largest companies, according to energydigital.com, are:
Who will own the chargers?
Think of charges like ATMs. Most are owned by banks, but there are privately owned ATMs installed also. Technically, any individual could purchase a charger, connect it to the power grid and the internet and make money charging vehicles.
In the case of EV chargers, the banks are major energy providers, electric product companies, and car manufacturers. Most offer turn key solutions and support for installations and maintenance or company ownership.
An example is Tesla that owns and operates 35,000 + Superchargers around the world.
The charger manufacturer Blink has 51,000 charging ports in 25 + countries. The US is coming late to the charging party. Blink has been awarded $26.5 million in funding for installation of Ev charging solutions across the United States.
Many chargers will likely be leased and managed by the same companies that own and operate the 147,000 convenience outlets that sell fuel since they already have prime locations on the nation’s highways. Many large companies, hotels, and parking garages can now add electric fueling stations in their facilities.
For travelers EV charging stations at hotels and campgrounds would be a plus. It could also provide another stream of income. Even national parks and public attractions could get a piece of the charging pie. It would be great for an EV owner to be able to top of their battery while visiting the local museum or other attraction.
Blink even advertises that if you are a property owner within a mile of a highway you may qualify for guaranteed EV charging revenue at no cost with the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Funding.
How much power is needed for EV Infrastructure?
This is one example of a “blink” high-powered charger from their website. Other manufacturers and chargers have unique specifications. This is only one brand of charger.
A high power charger up to 180 kw provides an output of 150 - 1000 VDC up to 500 Amps of current. The input voltage for this type of charger is 480 V 3 phase 60 Hz in the United States. The internal control changes the AC input to DC output to directly charge the battery quickly.
An average home uses about 30 kW per day! Most homes have 100 to 200 amps service using 240 V AC in the US. By these numbers the fast charging station has an output more than twice that of the standard home’s electrical system!
Each station has sophisticated control systems that sense the car’s battery and level of charge needed including the appropriate rate of charge. The vehicle owner just has to pay and plug in the charger similar to a gas pump.
Safety is built into the charging control system. The control systems senses overvoltage, undervoltage, overcurrent, missing ground and shorts, automatically shutting down the system. There is also an emergency stop button in case of emergency not sensed by the system
If the United States builds 1.2 million public DC fast chargers as suggested by McKinsey Report with an average available power requirement of 100 kw the power grid would need an additional 120 megawatts per hour of power. That power like homes won’t be required 24 hours a day but it equates to 3 trillion watts per day. (someone check my math).
EV charging will only require .01 % additional energy
The power for EV charging network in the US equates to 409 Billion Btu per hour. The US consumed 97.33 quadrillion Btu in 2021. 12.16 quatrillion from renewable energy. The additional Btu needed for EV charging is 10 trillion and change. There are 1,000 trillions in a quadtrillion. About 0.01% of the overall electricity consumption in the United States is needed for the EV charging infrastructure.
Will chargers work in cold weather?
Most public chargers will be installed outside exposed to the elements. Some may have a minimal overhead covering to protect from rain and snow. Others may be in protected parking carnage’s but still exposed to cold and heat.
A charger’s electronic components are enclosed in a small cabinet sealed from rain, snow, and dust. These cabinets are more robust than your laptop computer but have many of the same components inside.
If you have tried operating your laptop, viewing the screen, plugging it into a charging port in a snow storm you have an idea of what is in store for charging stations. Or tried to view your display screen in bright sunlight.
The same issues will present the EV charging manufacturers and owners of the installation.
Charging locations exposed to the elements will need some type of thermal management system to protect components. LCD touch screen displays preferred for outside viewing can technically freeze at low temperatures.
Cycling between extreme hot and cold would make your laptop inoperable in a short period of time.
Thermal management systems
Manufacturers of charging stations and batteries use thermal management systems to maintain the optimal temperature for the devices to operate properly under all weather conditions. The operation of electronic devices and electronics can be adversely affected by both low and high temperatures.
Electric vehicle are impacted by extreme temperatures, as are the occupants of the vehicles. One of the unique devices used to maintain passenger comfort and efficient battery operation in cold weather are small PTC heaters.
These small high watt density solid state devices are ideal for confined spaces both in the vehicles and charging stations. The control their heat output automatically based on the surrounding temperature and never exceed their designed maximum temperature.
Small PTC fan heaters are found in charging stations as well as a multitude of other applications needing a small self-regulating heating device. They produce enough heat to keep moisture and cold temperatures from effecting the operating components.