The world of on-street charging is still “a brave new world” in many ways, according to Alastair Mumford, SWEP regional programme manager at Devon Council.
Speaking on the Looking at the Latest Technologies and Solutions to Supply On-Street Charging at the Everything EV Summit, Mumford highlighted how much work is still needed to truly understand people's habits, how that impacts demand and the sort of technologies needed to meet this as EV ownership continues to grow.
One particular group that there needs to be more data on is workers who need to take a high mileage vehicle home, with Neil Swanson, director of EVA Scotland, highlighting that a solution needs to be brought in to avoid workers having to drive to a depot to collect their EV.
More knowledge is still needed, he said, to inform the rollout of charging infrastructure for this particular group, although already there are companies looking into covering the charger at individuals homes. Then – like with all EV charging – however, they run into the challenge of homes that do not have their own parking space.
A potential solution that some of the councils are looking at is troughs in the pavement to allow cables to safely traverse the space without presenting a trip hazard. This would allow for cables to run from a person's house to their vehicle, providing charging infrastructure at a low cost.
Mumford urged caution with such an approach however, for any solution that gives a “soft allocation” of a parking space to a homeowner attracts complaints. The same could be a consideration for wireless charging, a technology that is still a little way off but potentially offers a solution to various on-street EV charging challenges.
Wireless charging could reduce street furniture, helping to ensure pavements remain uncluttered by chargers and cables. Additionally, it could be used to make the charging process more accessible for those with a disability.
While it is a niche market currently, ensuring the transition is open to all is a concern within the EV charging sector. This has a wide range of considerations, both in carparks and hubs – where spacing of disabled bays that include chargers without causing obstruction is a consideration – and on-street.
“The best approach is to try and deal with them on an individual basis, because the situation is never the same for any two people in this situation,” said Paul Gambrell, team leader for EV Integration in Oxfordshire.
Ultimately, whilst there is clear interest in the technologies coming down the line such as wireless charging, it seems more information is still needed to ensure they are rolled out.
As Jeremy Yapp, head of flexible energy systems at BEAMA said: “We're in the here and now- we've got a pretty good charging technology available to us. Let's make it interoperable, easy to use, reliable, all those things.”