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Questions to answer when installing business EV chargers at your workplace

What do you need to consider to get your business EV ready and future-proof your charging setup? We dive into the 5 key considerations all businesses should have answers to before they start.

As we countdown to the UK ban on new petrol and diesel vehicle sales in 2030, the race is on to go electric.  It's time to plan ahead to develop the workplace charging infrastructure your employees and customers will need.

The direction of sustainable transport is clear. Zero emission driving is at the heart of the government's net zero commitments, including the world’s most ambitious climate change target of 78% emissions cut by 2035 – compared to 1990 levels.

Consumers are also very enthusiastic about EV, as indicated by April 21 new car registrations – with full battery, plug-in and hybrid vehicles accounting for over 1-in-5 of UK sales. And fully battery electric vehicles registrations up 583% on April 2020. As EV vehicle and infrastructure costs continue to fall and more and more new vehicle models become available, market share will, undoubtedly, rise much faster.

Get ahead of the curve on EV

It is predicted that by 2029, 20% to 30% of all the vehicles on UK roads will be electric, which will be led by early adopters, such as fleets and taxis.  This is demonstrated by our own 12,000 strong fleet, which we aim to convert to fully electric by 2025. Using the lessons we've learned, we're helping  other organisations to develop cost-effective, scalable and future-proofed transition plans via our EV Enablement services.

As more employees and customers make the switch to electric vehicles, the need for easy to access charging facilities at the places we work at, shop and visit is growing. You'll need to consider many factors to make your business EV ready and develop on-site charging facilities that you can scale as demand grows further.

In this blog we answer the 5 questions you should ask to create a cost-effective workplace charging plan that delivers on your business and sustainability goals.

 

Jump to:  Feasibility  I  Suitability  I  Power  I  Funding  I  Operations  I  Our solution

 

 

1. Is it feasible to install EV charge points at your site and can you easily expand your facilities to meet future demand?

It's often best to start your feasibility study by assessing the strength of support from senior management and employees. Their buy-in and long-term EV commitment is vital to getting your project off the ground, then scaling resources for continuous management and development of your EV strategy.

In our experience of switching our business to EV, there is widespread enthusiasm for emission free transport, but it's always wise to check that your stakeholders are fully onboard at the outset.

Potential obstacles

Are there any barriers that could thwart your plans? For organisations who rent their site, installing workplace charging is a non-starter without landlord permission. Many tenancy agreements permit improvements to the building, so installing EV infrastructure should be included in this clause. However, length of tenancy should also be factored into feasibility planning.

The savviest landlords are already installing electric vehicle charge points– recognising the competitive advantage and marketing potential of on-site EV infrastructure.

Other key questions to ask are: Do you have enough land or existing parking bays to install charge points? How close is your power supply?  The further away, the more digging will be required – resulting in higher costs.

You must also consider the feasibility of scaling up your EV infrastructure as demand grows. Forward planning is critical as demand for EV will explode as the 2030 phase-out of ICE vehicles approaches.

Our end-to-end solution for workplace charging enables strategic expansion of charging infrastructure, with simplified procurement of hardware, intelligent software for charger and site energy management.

2.  Who needs to charge and how?

Working out whether you need to install workplace charging and the number and type of charge points you require starts with understanding the needs of your employees, customers and site visitors.

Firstly, how many staff already drive private or company electric cars? How many others plan to switch to EVs over the next 3-5 years? Do home/public charge points satisfy their needs?  For example, an employee with access to home charging and a short commute of around 20? miles, probably won't need to charge at work, whereas those with a long commute, or who are field-based, will probably need to charge up at work.  

Need for speed?

For those who can't charge at home, how long is their vehicle typically parked at work (dwell time) and what's their usual average daily mileage? This will help determine the type of charge point required, i.e.

  • Standard (3-7kW) – charging takes 4 to 8 hours
  • Fast (7-22kW) –Charging takes 2 to 4 hours
  • Rapid (up to 50kW) – charging takes 30 to 60 minutes
  • Ultra Rapid (150kW) - charging takes 20? minutes

If vehicles are stationary for much of the day, then lower cost, slower charging units will probably suffice – meaning less electricity is required. Conversely, if employees pop into the office for short periods, then you'll need higher powered charging facilities.

You also need to factor in electric vehicle types as rapid charging isn't suitable for all models, while range of mileage will also vary for different vehicles. In all probability, you will require a mix of charge point types to suit varied demand.

Adding value for both your employees and customers

You should also consider demand from customers, suppliers and other visitors to your site. What better way to encourage them to visit your site, build good will and make a powerful statement about your environmental responsibility!

Installing on-site electric vehicle charging is also a great opportunity to enhance your employees' benefit package and encourage loyalty. Maybe you will also consider extending EV charging to employee homes in a new era of post-COVID hybrid home/office based working patterns.

3. Do you have enough on-site electricity capacity to meet extra demand?

Our survey of business attitudes to EV showed that only 43% of businesses have considered the impact that moving to electric transport on their power requirements.

Installing on-site charging stations on your site will certainly increase electricity demand. Calculate how much extra power you require and what times of day to develop a solution. This will inevitably mean making changes to your current supply; but could necessitate an enhanced grid connection if there are local supply constraints. Make sure your charge point technology provides load balancing, which enables you to keep within the limits of your available capacity.

On-site generation opportunity

If additional capacity is required, is there the opportunity to self generate your own clean on-site energy supply. By integrating your EV infrastructure with renewable solutions, such as solar and battery storage, you can reduce energy costs and enhance sustainability. You could also generate revenue from your energy assets by flexing your supply to capitalise on demand side response and energy optimisation programmes.

If self generation isn't feasible, this is an ideal opportunity to switch to a green business energy tariff or make use of Renewable Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs)  to source your additional electricity requirement.

Optimising energy for cost and carbon savings

Specifying smart charges enables you to optimise the time of charging, so that it takes place when network demand and prices are lowest.  In this way, drivers can save money while helping to de-constrain the grid and maximise the use of renewables in the energy mix. Consider future technologies too, such as Vehicle 2 Grid (V2G), which will open opportunities to sell surplus energy back to the grid.

In partnership with Vauxhall, we're leading the way by integrating time-of-use renewable energy tariffs into charger installations, including 'free green miles' credit. We've also launched a fleet smart charging management app that makes reimbursement easy and  features tariff optimisation. This enables drivers to charge when power prices are lowest from any standard charge point.

4. Do the economics of your EV plan stack-up and how will your fund your project?  

The cost of making your workplace EV friendly is now much more affordable. As the industry rapidly scales, technology prices for charging infrastructure will continue to fall. This is mirrored by the falling total cost of owning a plug-in vehicle. Despite their current higher purchase cost, they are cheaper to run than their petrol and diesel equivalents and owners benefit from tax breaks and other financial incentives. 

It's essential to understand the full ongoing costs of your on-site charging facilities, including energy supply, so that you can ensure that your financial model stacks up and aligns with wider business goals.  Ensure that you make the most of the funding and tax incentives and think about how you will gain visibility and control over usage in order to keep operational costs under control.

Financial help

Workplace charging grants of up to £14,000 are available to support on-site installation. In addition, the new Super Deduction tax break will enhance existing capital relief allowances on investment in charge points.

At an early stage, you must consider a financial charging model for employees and/or customers to fund the initial infrastructure investment and ongoing power supply and management costs. This should be economically attractive and viable for both the business and the service user. There's also an opportunity to drive commercial revenue by providing out-of-work hours public access to your charge points.

 If you plan to integrate your EV charging system with renewable on-site generation and storage, consider how you will fund your additional energy infrastructure to meet updated power requirements. We can provide finance to support delivery of your CAPEX free project. This can be funded off balance sheet via a performance-based operating cost model. Factor in opportunities to generate revenue from energy optimisation.

5. How will you manage charge point operation to improve user experience and optimise lifetime performance?

How will you manage the day-to-day operation of your EV infrastructure?  What technologies do you need to provide you with complete control, security and visibility of your assets? How will you manage integration with on-site generation and storage? How will you optimise tariffs and automate load scheduling and sharing for improved cost and energy efficiency? What actions must you take to ensure long-term efficiency and keep your assets operating at peak performance?

What about the user experience? For example, how will you gain control over who uses your workplace charge points and when? How will you distinguish between private and business mileage, or integrate home charging facilities? Do you want to bill all users, or set different tariffs for various users? What are your ongoing maintenance requirements?

These are just some of the many questions you need to ask when developing plans for workplace charging.

Our charger management software platform and mobile driver app gives you complete control over charge point infrastructure, charge point utilisation, energy usage and driver experience. This provides you with real-time network status monitoring, usage reporting and analysis, while providing a seamless user experience for your employees, clients, and visitors.

Our charging facilities are vandal-proof, fireproof and weather-resistant and both the equipment and software come with warranties, but we also provide fully managed service packages to optimise performance and prolong your asset lifespan.

EV Enablement for Workplace Charging

Implement your sustainable workplace charging scheme with our scalable hardware, software and energy management solutions. Our experts will help you identify the opportunity, design a solution, install all components and maintain your infrastructure.

We have the flexibility to support your business at any stage of your EV transition. With a global network of more than 12,000 engineers and technicians, and expertise in designing, managing and financing complex solutions, Centrica has already installed more than 17,000 EV chargers and is uniquely positioned to provide a holistic solution that addresses the challenges of EV adoption.

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