ICON on demand: Jeremy Yapp and Futureproofing for Electric Vehicles

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Jeremy Yapp, Head of Flexible Energy Systems at BEAMA, sat down with us in a webinar to unmask some of the mystery on Futureproofing for Electric Vehicles: the Interoperability Challenge.

BEAMA is the UK trade association for manufacturers and providers of energy infrastructure technologies and systems, representing more than 200 companies.

Last summer, the London Mayor’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Taskforce published its delivery plan for London’s mid-decade public electric vehicle charging infrastructure needs.

The plan identified eight ‘enablers’ to help unlock the potential for meeting projected needs; one was to publish guidance on future-proofing public electric vehicle charging infrastructure to encourage investors, and this task was given to BEAMA.

The result was ‘Best Practice for Future Proofing Electric Vehicle Infrastructure’, which provides guidance on how the vital upgrade of the infrastructure can provide long-term value, which Jeremy speaks about in detail in his webinar.

Jeremy Yapp

Jeremy illustrated: “As consumer behaviours change and as charging needs change, the infrastructure you have already bought and installed needs to be able to adapt to those changes.

“For example, the need for highway rapid chargers is just not what it was. Ranges are so much better that you don’t need an equivalent of a petrol station in every however many miles.

“Or maybe one day it will take roughly an hour for a 7KW fast charger to deliver charge 7KWs of charge.

“As technology changes, the way people think about the vehicle changes, the way they use the vehicle changes and people’s need to charge will also change.

“You can’t anticipate every change but you can do build in flexibility to be able to adapt to a variety of likely changes.”

The webinar had an excellent turnout, with too many questions to be able to answer all of them during the live session.

However, we will get back to everyone whose questions were not discussed.

The webinar is available to listen to on demand here

In the Q&A session at the end of the webinar, Jeremy answered questions from across the industry, posed to him by our host George.

 

George: “Let’s start with the questions. Jeremy, I think this is an important one to ask.

“Obviously London is doing loads of good stuff but there’s some cynicism still in more rural areas over electrification and whether that is actually the right thing to do for the future of our transport system.

“Do you think that, obviously with investment into research development technology, that we can get the solutions that will be as effective in very rural regions as they are in the cities?

 

Jeremy: “I love this question because I think it shines a light on some of the inconsistencies if you like.

“So the answer is yes, I do think that, partly because I have to think that, because if I don’t, then why are we electrifying?

“Obviously, air pollution is most urgent in the cities air quality is also important in the countryside but it’s a more urgent urban challenge.

“However I don’t think anyone is interested in finding a zero carbon technology or zero carbon solution that only 80% of this country is going to be involved with or use, so the climate imperative and actually the air quality imperative as well, is simply we have to find ways to make it work.

“Now, one of the ways that makes rural road transport electrification simpler is there are more driveways, there’s more space, there are more garages, there will be more private charging.

“Also, I think London is actually a slightly special case in that I don’t think there’s a city in Britain that is likely to have less opportunity for off-streets private charging, so clearly London has some specific challenges to do with how are we going to provide enough charging for these people, who simply can’t charge at home because there just isn’t the land.”

 

George: “Kind on a related note I suppose, we got a question coming from someone who is clearly an energy manager or similar within one of our fine constabularies.

“I think we’re still years away for vehicles within police forces because of charging times but more importantly, the cost of the vehicle long with the cost of the installation of the charging system.

“There is also security risk for forces with loss of power as and when it’s needed.

“How can we address those difficulties of security of supply and cost?”

“In my mind, I’m sure you can correct me Jeremy, my way of solving the security would be to put in lots of storage or a massive UPS system but that’s just adding to the cost then.”

 

Jeremy: “I don’t run a police force, I don’t do those logistics and management for police vehicles so I’m not an expert but I would say it might be useful to think about those issues in the same way that any fleet operator or fleet manager thinks about them.

“The challenge is the same. You have a number of vehicles. Some of them are out at the field if you like, some of them are at home, and you simply need to find ways of keeping them charged to an acceptable level.

“Now, the cost challenges for a police force are no different to the cost challenges for a supermarket delivery service or a fleet of hire cars or a fleet of taxis or so on. I expect those calculations are roughly the same.

“It is actually from a whole of life perspective very nearly price parity between electric vehicles and internal combustion engine cars and one of them is only getting cheaper and the other is only getting more expensive, so if you’re looking to future-proof your fleet and if you run a Police Constabulary, you really need to start thinking about electrifying your fleet now.

“That doesn’t mean you have to do it now but you need to be aware that it’s not long before you simply won’t be able to buy them and also, how available do you think petrol and diesel are going to be in a few decades’ time?

“People aren’t driving internal combustion engine cars at the same levels. Do you really want to take that ‘oh wow that petrol station closed down’, do you want that to be your wake up call to electrify your fleet or do you want to start thinking about it now?

“The other thing to say on that is as emergency services there are different rights and responsibilities that you take advantage of in maintaining your fleet but basically you just work out where the cars are being stored, whether they’re at the depot, whether they’re at people’s homes or whatever in the same way that a company does with its vans, and you make sure that charging services are available at those points and if that means you need a little bit of network reinforcement around your depot, or if that means you need to put in a system that really cleverly allows you to cost-effectively smartcharge your police cars overnight, then do it do it that way.

“If your cars need to be charged fully, then charge them fully in the same way that you would top them up with petrol each evening.

“I know that there are special considerations for a police force and for other emergency services, but it is absolutely not a reason not to electrify.”

 

George: “On a similar note, a question in from someone who has identified themselves as Falkirk Council.

“Do you think there’s going to be a shift to ultra-fast chargers, and do you think there will be a need for the LV network to have a direct current element rather than just AC?”

 

Jeremy: “I’m not going to speculate on the second half, but I will say one of the big challenges facing network management generally is the visibility of the low voltage network.

“There is a lot of work to be done in this area and maybe, I don’t want to commit to it, but maybe that’s a topic for a separate discussion, because at the moment I think one of the things that is holding us back from a smart local energy system point of view is visibility of the LV network.

“To the first part of the question, I absolutely can’t speak for Falkirk, I really don’t know, and I don’t think that that is actually the point.

“The point is yes of course in places like London there will be a strong focus on super-fast rapid hubs absolutely, that’s a decision that the taskforce made.

“We said ‘we know a lot of people are going to want to smart charge and trickle charge and what we called duration charging, we know they’re going to want to do that, for example overnight in front of their homes from a public charge point on the street’ but as a general rule, there will be lots and lots and lots of demand for rapid hubs and that’s how we drive the consumer confidence for EV take-up in London.

“In Falkirk, I’m not indulging in stereotypes of life being slower away from London, not at all.

“The need and the urgency for an individual charge remains the same, but I think the patterns of use are likely to be different, especially in rural areas and I would be surprised if there were to be a really large prevalence of rapid hubs in rural areas, except on highways.”

 

George: “Next question.

“If a voluntary industry agreement bring about standards, open data etc is underway, the next stage would be legislation to enforce it.

“Do you think that’s the way to go, to get that interoperability solution boxed off, do we have to legislate on it?

 

Jeremy: “No we don’t.  So the other task force that has been going on for the last few years which I didn’t mention, it’s a national taskforce called the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce and that wasn’t just around charging infrastructure, that was on how do we prepare our energy system to support expected levels of road transport electrification.

“I’m in it as well by the way, and I think I’ve just found out in the last few days that there is an EVET 2.0 to take forward the recommendation, and I think I’m on a steering group of that, so lucky me.

“One of the recommendations that it made, we published the report in January this year, was that the industry as a whole needs to work out how is it going to deal with the interoperability challenge and that includes the communications system with site security and so on built in.

“There’s a lovely veiled threat, that there is a couple of years to deliver national EV charging, and if you don’t, government will do it for you and that strikes fear into the heart of anyone who is involved in developing the EV Infrastructure report. It’s just the kick up the backside that industry needed.”

“So I don’t believe you will see legislation in this regard until industry has coalesced around an accepted solution and I expect you’re going to see a lot of innovation in that area, and I think government will need to support that.

“It’s not just because I’m an industry rep that I’m saying this, but actually legislation at this point would be the wrong thing to do.”