Revolutionising EV charging: the latest innovations on the horizon
As we move ever closer to the 2035 EU ban on the sale of new cars and vans, electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming an increasingly popular choice for both fleets and individuals.
As demand rises however, the need for a more robust charging infrastructure grows. This has led to the emergence of innovative charging solutions to help make charging more accessible, convenient, greener and cost-effective.
Here, we shine a spotlight on some of the latest charging innovations and how they will shape the future of EVs.
Charging during peak hours can be costly and the higher demand means additional pressure on electricity grids.
Smart charging helps to optimise energy use and reduce the strain on networks, with drivers able to charge their vehicles in a more intelligent, cost-effective manner.
Essentially, this involves charge points communicating with the vehicle to schedule charging at a more energy-efficient time, such as in cheaper periods, when local demand is lower or when cleaner energy is available.
More advanced tech allows energy suppliers to remotely monitor and manage EV charging in real-time and define energy consumption limits. They can also cut the charging rate during periods of high demand to reduce grid overload and reliance on non-renewable energy sources, while increasing the rate when demand is lower.
As part of the European Green Deal, the EU Commission created a ‘Fit for 55’ package with legislative and policy proposals to enable the bloc to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. One of the components of ‘Fit for 55’ is the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR), which mandates that every new public charging station in Europe must be able to support smart charging.
In the UK, meanwhile, regulation states that all EV chargers sold for personal or workplace use must have smart capabilities. The government has also announced £16 million of funding for technologies that harness the potential of smart charging.
Many vehicles are stationery during the day – and opportunities are arising to utilise this.
Vehicle-to-everything– or V2X – charging technology enables bi-directional charging, meaning the energy stored in an EV’s battery can be used to power other energy-using objects or destinations.
Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging can help support our networks as more EVs appear on our roads. It works by selling energy back to the grid at more expensive, peak times with recharging taking place during lower demand, helping alleviate network pressure and utilising more renewable energy. The Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, for example, uses this tech to harness energy from visiting EVs during events, effectively integrating the vehicle into the stadium’s power grid.
EVs can also be used as effective power sources for buildings or homes – vehicle-to-building (V2B) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) charging – reducing reliance on non-renewable energy sources and providing backup power during emergencies.
Vehicle-to-load (V2L) charging may also become more prevalent, with motorists using the energy stored in their EV batteries to charge or power electrical appliances, including lights, tools, and even other EVs.
Wireless charging, which has existed for smartphones for a few years, now seems to be gaining traction in EVs as an alternative to traditional plug-in charging.
Using inductive charging technology, an electromagnetic field is created when an EV – fitted with a magnetic coil – is parked over a charging pad or plate, transferring the energy to the vehicle. This technology has the potential to accelerate charging times, while also offering an on-street charging option for those without driveways or private charge points.
Electric vehicles with this wireless charging tech are starting to hit the road and trials are taking place in various locations across the globe. In the UK, Nottingham City Council recently concluded the country’s first wireless electric taxi charging trial, following a £930,000 investment from the Government’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles. The purpose of the trial was to gain insight into how this convenient and accessible charging infrastructure can be used to support the use of EVs in the future.
Dynamic charging also looks set to become a reality. Back in 2018, Sweden opened the first electrified road, which works by transferring energy from an electric rail in the road to a vehicle equipped with a retractable arm attached to its undercarriage.
Later this year, Balingen in Germany will host the world’s first public wireless charging trial using an in-road charging system that will allow drivers to charge their EV while on the move. The technology will help alleviate range anxiety by extending the battery charge and minimising the frequency of recharging stops.
Pop-up, lamp post and mobile charging
For fleet drivers who take their vehicles home, transitioning to an EV may prove problematic where there is limited charging infrastructure – drivers that reside in apartments without private driveways, for example.
While kerbside charge points can be a convenient option, they can present issues such as obstructing traffic or posing safety risks for pedestrians. To overcome these challenges, companies have developed pop-up chargers that can be installed in pavements and activated via an app, providing a safer and less obstructive EV charging solution.
Additionally, retrofitting lamp posts with charging capabilities can help to reduce street clutter and installation costs. According to a recent study, retrofitting lamp posts can also reduce carbon emissions by up to 88%, compared to the installation of traditional charging stations.
Glance to the future, and mobile charging may become commonplace. American firm, SparkCharge, has launched ‘Charging-as-a-Service’ – or CaaS – which allows drivers to request a charging service wherever they are, eliminating installation costs and the long lead times involved in fitting fixed charge points.
Meanwhile, Parky, an autonomous EV charging robot, can locate a driver’s EV in a car park using sensors and then plugs in to a nearby charging mechanism to charge the vehicle. Robots such as Parky can help support more efficient energy consumption, optimising power usage by recognising vehicle models and adapting its performance accordingly.