Electrification of parking lots, what are the challenges?

Expert opinion

Salim El Houat, Co-founder & CEO at Mob-Energy
Published on:
Updated on:

With a market share of nearly 20% in 2022 in France, the shift towards electric vehicles is becoming more and more evident every day. To meet the growing needs of users in terms of charging, it is therefore essential to have a suitable infrastructure.

And it's not as simple as it seems. Review of the issues and challenges that CIEV (Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles) installation projects must overcome.


Electric charging and parking, the origin of an infrastructure optimization problem.


On a daily basis, we recharge when we park.

The charging infrastructure and the electrical infrastructure must adapt to receiving numerous daily demands, in different locations, different times and for different needs.

And if high-power fast charging stations are essential in certain uses (long distance journeys for example), the majority of charging sessions concern small doses of energy (around 10kWh, or 60km) over medium (3h-8h) to long (more than 8h) durations. In fact, this daily recharge is carried out when parking, at home, at work, or at your destination. This use (low energy requirement and medium or long parking time) inevitably gives rise to the problem of monopolization of terminals.


The issue of sizing the CIEV, between monopolization and overcapacity

In France, we record less than one charging session per day per charging point at public terminals. An observation which can be explained either by a oversizing of infrastructure, or by the phenomenon of monopolization terminals (or “sucker cars”).

The electric motorist recharges every day, when he parks. To recover a few kWh of energy, it will monopolize the charging point for several hours, preventing other users from accessing the charging service. To be able to meet demand, we will then be tempted to install as many charging points as users, thus causing an overcapacity of the CIEV in relation to the real energy need.

However, given the costs associated with connecting the necessary power to the terminals, oversizing is not a valid option.


Charging stations: an installation that can be complex and expensive


Regulatory texts to observe

The Mobility Orientation Law, or LOM law, requires all car parks to electrify part of their spaces before January 2025. Concretely, for public and private car parks, it is a minimum charging point, then an additional point per 20 spaces, of which at least one accessible for PMR. Electrical pre-equipment equivalent to 5 to 20% places (depending on the date of the building permit and the size of the building) is required.

Alongside the LOM law, safety regulations applicable to buildings and car parks remain in force, such as fire standards and the rules applicable to establishments open to the public (ERP) or high-rise buildings (IGH). Standards that may require significant development work (sprinkling, compartmentalization).


Cost and specifics of the terminal

When we talk about an electric charging project, the first cost element that comes to mind is that of the terminals themselves. This varies depending on the power delivered (slow, accelerated, fast or ultra-fast charging), the available sockets (Type2, Combo CCS, Chademo), and the integrated monetization and communication technologies (interoperability, OCPP).

During the project phase, it will be necessary to focus on the constitution of the electrical fleet using the car park so that the CIEV is adapted to real needs. Indeed, few vehicles accept 22kW AC charging, few plug-in hybrid vehicles accept more than 7.4kW, or fast charging (direct current) also has its share of variability from one vehicle to another and one terminal to another.

But the cost of the terminal itself is not the most significant item for the installation project.


Installation and power supply, the main issue

The majority of the budget, linked to the electrification of parking spaces, is linked to installation and connection costs of the electricity network.

The installation will therefore require VRD works (civil engineering, earthworks) to pass the electrical cables from the network supply to the terminals. Work which can prove to be very expensive depending on the specificities of the building, or even impossible (prohibition by the lessor).

Connection to the electricity network is yet another issue. Medium-sized (10 to 20 load points) or large-scale (>150kVA) projects are quickly faced with technical limits of the electrical installation parking lot or building. Thus, depending on the total power to be made available to the charging service, significant modifications will be necessary on the TGBT or the transformation stations, further increasing the total bill.

And this, even though all this power will only be used for a tiny part of the day.

Low usage on one side.

A complexity of implementation and a significant cost of the other.

The key to the massive electrification of parking lots lies in solving this double optimization problem. And solutions are emerging to achieve this.


Technological solutions to electrify car parks easily, quickly and at lower cost


Mobile charging: the end of monopolization of terminals

Electric charging stations are often monopolized, but equipping 100% places with a terminal would prohibit access to thermal vehicles (R417-10 of the Highway Code). The growth of the electricity fleet is continuous and rapid, but, due to the complexity of the necessary work, the installation of new terminals is done more slowly, in waves.

To match the pace of electrification of parking lots and the vehicle fleet, one of the most technological alternatives is autonomous mobile charging. In fact, charging robots can be used in addition to fixed terminals to electrify a parking lot as the vehicle fleet becomes electrified. The charging robots move from one vehicle to another and thus enable optimal use of energy and parking.

A way to electrify 100% of a car park without limiting access to thermal vehicles.


Intelligent charging: optimize subscribed power and energy distribution

How can we power all the charging stations without saturating the electricity network?

In the context of last winter, during which the fear of blackout was alive, the lack of power was highlighted: “the network may not be able to support it”. Smart charging meets this challenge.

The term smart charging refers to innovative solutions to ensure charging in a more reliable, more efficient and less energy-intensive manner. Smart charging consists of planning and controlling the charge based on several parameters, such as the availability of energy on the network, the charging time, the number of vehicles connected at the same time,

The DLM, for Dynamic Load Management, consists of minimizing the total power called by distributing it between several terminals. Going further, we can associate DLM with request scheduling. By defining the electric motorist's exact needs in terms of quantity of energy and parking time, an algorithm will be able to distribute the power between the terminals so as to satisfy all needs.


Off-grid storage and charging: the answer to all the challenges of electrifying parking lots?

Intelligent charging makes it possible to reduce the power required on the network and limits the impact in terms of work to be carried out on the electrical installation. However, civil engineering is still necessary and the power limit of the building will again be an issue when the next terminals are deployed.

This pitfall can be avoided by seeking to limit the withdrawal of energy from the national electricity grid.

Stationary batteries can store energy during off-peak hours (or surplus photovoltaic production) and redistribute it when the network is in greater demand. This is the principle of erasure.

These batteries can also boost the building network : A low power connection powers the batteries which distribute energy to vehicles at a higher power.

From these batteries, a Above-ground and scalable CIEV of interconnected charging points can also be imagined. No VRD (Roads and Miscellaneous Networks), no trench and fewer cables to pull, for a simpler, faster, lower-cost installation and an infrastructure that can easily evolve when the car park needs to intensify its electrification.

Energy storage, above-ground installation, intelligent charging and scheduling of user requests. This mix of innovative solutions is able to respond to all the challenges of electrifying parking lots. A challenge that Mob-Energy strives to meet on a daily basis, with the Eiko power cube.


Learn more: https://www.mob-energy.com/


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