Electric vehicles are becoming more commonplace. At the same time, new EV models are increasingly capable of receiving higher-energy recharges, thereby slashing recharge times. And with more fast-charge capable EVs on the road, more high-power chargers will have to be built to accommodate that influx.
Just because there is demand for fast chargers, however, doesn’t mean that the electrical grid can accommodate them. The lack of electrical infrastructure isn’t prohibiting EV charging network brand EVgo from building fast chargers, though. The company announced earlier this month that it has installed — or is in the midst of installing — 14 battery storage systems across 11 of its charging stations.
These battery storage systems, complemented by solar panels, work to offset additional energy needed to give electric cars a full fast charge even when there is a large amount of electrical demand on the electrical grid from other sources. Although 14 battery storage banks might not seem like many, especially given that EVgo has more than 1,100 fast chargers nationwide, it represents the “largest deployment of battery storage systems at public fast charging stations in the nation,” according to a company press release.
“As electric vehicles advance to accept higher power charging rates, energy storage will play a growing role in balancing the load of larger and higher power stations,” Julie Blunden, Executive Vice President of EVgo and Board Member of the Energy Storage Association (ESA), said in a prepared statement.
Essentially, EVgo can save electricity (i.e. charge the storage batteries) during off-peak periods (or generate it with the onsite solar panels) and deliver it to customers — no matter if the sun is out or the grid is at high demand and under heavy load.
This sort of battery storage system offers many benefits. First, such a setup could potentially save EVgo money on energy bills in the long run. Secondly, it’s a great way to locally utilize solar power to recharge EVs. Lastly, and perhaps most important, it allows EVgo fast-charge stations to be built even in places where the electrical grid can’t support such high-energy power delivery. Think remote stations, for example.
This sort of setup also lends itself as an excellent way for battery brands to recycle or reuse EV batteries. BMW, for example, which is one of EVgo’s battery suppliers, launched a ‘2nd Life’ battery storage system in 2016. This allows the German automaker to take the batteries from its i3 vehicles that are no longer up to road-use snuff and use them for home energy storage, again paired with solar panels.
This isn’t EVgo’s only recent innovation. The company also rolled out autocharge technology, which instantly recognizes EVs and initiates automatic charging after the first visit.
I am glad to see EVgo innovating in the EV charging space. It’s going to take smart programs like autocharge and lower-impact fast-charging stations like the one the company is currently testing to lower the complication barrier to EV ownership. Refueling an internal combustion vehicle is super easy. If EV adoption is going to be widespread, more companies are going to have to devote more time- and energy-saving technologies like these from EVgo.