EV Infrastructure

How to Integrate On-Site Renewables into EV Charging Infrastructure to Supplement Grid Capacity

May 17, 2024

As US News’ Cherise Threewitt points out, those of us in the EV charging space could do more to make EV usage even greener. By integrating on-site renewables into our EV charging infrastructure, we can wean the industry from dependence on non-renewable resources for its power.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

One of the main reasons people choose EVs is that they want to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Unfortunately, as the US Energy Information Administration discovered, nearly 60% of the nation’s electricity comes from fossil fuels.

Integrating On-Site Renewables into Home Charging Installations

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Home EV charging station manufacturers and installers can help their customers reduce their fossil fuel consumption by advising them to install enough solar panels on their properties to power their EVs as well as their homes. Partnering with a solar panel manufacturer or installer to offer customers a discount on a solar panel-EV charging station bundle can help drive sales and go the extra mile toward a stellar customer experience.

If your customers’ homes lie in an area with high average wind speeds, installing a wind turbine to generate enough electricity to power their cars is another option. Again, partnering with the local utility or the wind turbine’s manufacturer to provide cost savings can help your customers get their home charging system off the ground.

Additionally, if your customers’ local utility offers a clean energy option, be sure to inform them that they can switch to a clean energy source if sustainability is one of their chief concerns. The easier you can make it for your home EV charging station customers, the more likely they will recommend your brand to their EV-owning friends and families.

Integrating On-Site Renewables into Public Charging Stations

Limited grid capacity remains a challenge to the public EV charging industry. If you’re a charging station owner, it’s probably one of the things that keep you up at night.

You can get a better night’s sleep if you augment your station’s power with an alternative power source or two. Getting your station ready for the nearly 26-plus million EVs that will likely be on the road in 2030 can make the difference between success and failure for your operation, as GenCell’s Shelli Zargary advises. Here are some options to help you keep the lights on and the electricity flowing.

Update Your Electrical System to a Three-Phase Power System

If your facility only has Level 1 or Level 2 chargers, you might want to consider updating it to a three-phase system to accommodate Level 3 fast DC chargers. They’re the wave of the future – since commercial fleets, as well as long-distance travelers, will depend on them for a quick in-and-out top-up.

Additionally, as Zargary points out, 480V three-phase power systems have the capacity to optimize electricity usage. Even if your utility still depends on fossil fuel, you’ll use less of it with an updated system.

Add Solar and Wind Electricity to Your Facility

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Alternative power sources will prove to be lifesavers for EV charging stations as the nation’s grid upgrades to handle the extra load more EVs on the road will cause. Installing wind turbines and solar panels, as well as batteries, to store the energy they generate can help lessen your station’s dependence on the grid.

It’s even more critical for commercial and other public charging stations to maintain adequate battery storage when using solar and wind power to augment the grid. Since the wind and sun’s energy output isn’t constant, having storage capacity is essential to keep your facility running no matter what the weather.

And, even better news if you don’t have the acreage for both wind turbines and solar panels. American engineer Jim Bardia has developed a working power generation model that combines both wind and solar energy. It’s not on the market yet, but it’s well worth considering for future expansion.

Although having an off-grid power source might be expensive at the outset, you can usually receive funding from private capital or clean energy incentives, making it a wise investment for the future of your charging station network. And, if your stations are in an area where power outages are a seasonal risk, having an alternative to the grid can give your stations a distinct advantage over your competitors.

Consider Hydroelectric Power

If your facility is near a fast-running stream, creek, or river, consider generating electricity through a micro-hydroelectric power system. It’s renewable, dependable (except during periods of extreme drought), and cheap after you’ve paid the initial costs of installing the system itself.

Integrate Biofuels into the Mix

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Burning biomass – usually plant material or animal waste – to generate electricity uses renewable resources to power homes, vehicles, or facilities. Since living organisms absorb carbon as they grow and release it when burned, the process is essentially carbon neutral.

Since the United States is the world’s top producer of biofuels, it is no wonder that companies have sprung up to help EV charging station owners supplement their grid usage with biofuel generators and other alternative power sources. Some of these businesses, like Evesco, manufacture power generators that can integrate a broad range of renewable energy sources in addition to biofuels, making them a versatile solution to grid dependence.

Augment the Grid with Hydrogen Fuel Cells

If EV adoption continues its current growth curve, it will likely strain the nation’s electrical grid, especially during peak usage hours. However, EV charging stations that deploy hydrogen power sources can easily meet the demand.

For example, as hydrogen fuel cell provider Plug points out, an 18,000-gallon tank of liquid hydrogen can deliver enough electricity to fully charge more than 1,000 EVs. And, since hydrogen power sources emit only heat and water, they can reduce the massive portion of the nation’s electricity that still depends on fossil fuels – provided EV charging and power companies deploy them at scale.

Explore More Leading-Edge Technologies to Reduce Your Dependence on the Grid

Using today’s leading-edge technologies to integrate renewable power sources into EV charging infrastructure can help solve the challenges the nation’s aging grid presents. Learn more about these developments and how to leverage them to make your EV charging business successful at the next EV Charging Summit & Expo. Reserve your seat at the table today!

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