The impact of a lack of innovation in EV charging infrastructure | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack


Leigh Purnell, CEO and founder of charging technology firm Petalite, on how a lack of innovation in the EV charging sector threatens to hamper future EV rollout.

Leigh Purnell, CEO and founder of Petalite

With over half of all new road-going vehicles purchased by fleets, the UK fleet sector has significant potential to accelerate the adoption of EVs across the UK and play a vital role in meeting the Government’s target of banning sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

Going forward, charge point availability will be a hugely important issue to fleet owners, as will be the reliability of the chargers already installed and in use. However, it is becoming increasingly clear from our commercial fleet partners that the key issues affecting the EV fleet sector right now are those of reliability, revenue potential and maintenance costs.

These issues are not unique to the EV fleet sector – UK legislation now states that all public rapid EV chargers will need to guarantee a minimum of 99% reliability. As the Government pledges yet more funding to increase the number of public EV chargers on the UK’s roads, our main concern is that not enough consideration has gone into the EV charging infrastructure required to guarantee 99% reliability and to successfully scale alongside the UK’s EV fleets as they grow over the coming years.

Why lack of innovation in EV chargers will hamper future rollout

The issue at the heart of existing EV charging infrastructure is a lack of innovation. While many advancements have been made to electric vehicles themselves, all existing EV chargers are currently based around the same ‘full bridge’ technology, which requires intricate controls meaning complicated circuitry that impacts reliability and lifetime.

As a result, EV chargers continue to be sold as products with short 2-5 year warranties. Increased demand from EV drivers over the coming months and years will inevitably lead to a wide range of problems including increased maintenance and significant down time.

This is exactly why the Petalite team has spent the past four years engineering a break-through EV charging technology called SDC which confidently meets 99% reliability. Petalite’s PowerCores (modules) can be infinitely stacked like Lego bricks and simply upgraded when the future inevitably demands more power.

Due to its built-in multiple redundancy system, Petalite’s chargers can actively switch in new PowerCores to compensate for a power loss, resulting in a highly trustworthy charge experience for EV drivers.

Vertical integration and cyber security 

It’s vitally important for businesses to think about widespread connectivity of their chargers, not just the vehicle but also the grid. Recent high-profile breaches have revealed just how vulnerable public EV chargers are to cyber attack.

Petalite is a vertically integrated business, which means we own, maintain and develop every aspect of the charger. Unlike numerous leading charger providers we have ‘baked in’ security at a hardware level so we are not reliant on third party software, which leaves chargers vulnerable to attack.

Fleets will demand considerable power going forward — the key question is how to charge thousands of vehicles and the impact this could have on supply and demand. For instance, a bus company may need to charge hundreds of busses every night.

If your software is able to dynamically respond, you can create virtual power plants, with the opportunity to relieve demand on the grid by sending messages to thousands of chargers with the option to reduce or increase demand. This supports the grid and, in turn, generates a potential additional revenue stream for fleet operators.

Solutions to the issue of short-term warranties

Another way in which we are looking to innovate within the EV charging sector is by introducing the Charging as a Service (CaaS) model. Inspired by Rolls Royce’s Engine as a Service contract, CaaS represents a huge shift in the typical EV charger  business model.

Through this model we have been able to introduce long-term contracts of 15-25 years (compared to the current industry standard of just 2-5), with regular servicing and maintenance built in.

Petalite’s charging hardware features standard commodity parts. As a result, Petalite aims to repair, not replace hardware and this ultimately reduces waste. Our chargers can even be serviced while charging a vehicle with no revenue loss. They are also installed with a multi-layer redundancy system meaning it’s extremely rare for one of our chargers to go down.

 

EV fleets promise to play a vital role in the UK’s ability to meet 2030 targets. However, until solutions are found to industry-wide issues including charger infrastructure and short term warranties, EV chargers will be unable to reliably scale alongside, and meet the future needs of, EV fleets.



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