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« Toby's eyes have been opened | Main | What will net zero cost? »
Monday
May062019

The practical issues of installing EV charging points

A reader posted this in the comments to the previous post. It's by an electrician in Melbourne, and describes some work he had done on the feasibility of installing EV charging points in a local apartment building. I was amused.

I recently did some work for the body corporate at Dock 5 Apartment Building in Docklands to see if we could install a number of electric charging points for owners to charge their electric vehicles. We discovered:

  • Our building had no non-allocated parking spaces (i.e. public ones). This is typical of most apartment buildings so we cannot provide shared outlets. The power supply in the building was designed for the loads in the building with no spare capacity.
  • Only 5 or 6 chargers could be installed in total in a building with 188 apartments!
  • How do you allocate them as they would add value to any apartment owning one?
  • The car park sub-boards cannot carry the extra loads of even one charger and would have to be upgraded on any floors with a charger, as would the supply mains to each sub-board. The main switch board would then have to be upgraded to add the heavier circuit breakers for the sub-mains upgrade. 
  • When Docklands was designed, a limit was put on the number of apartments in each precinct and the mains and transformers in the streets were designed accordingly. This means there is no capacity in the Docklands street grid for any significant quantity of car chargers in any building in the area.

It gets better.

The whole CBD (Hoddle Grid, Docklands) and Southbank is fed by two sub-stations. One in Port Melbourne and one in West Melbourne. This was done to have two alternate feeds in case one failed or was down for maintenance. Because of the growth in the city/Docklands and Southbank, neither one is now capable of supplying the full requirement of Melbourne zone at peak usage in mid- summer if the other is out of action. The Port Melbourne 66,000 volt feeder runs on 50 or 60 year old wooden power poles above ground along Dorcas Street South Melbourne. One pole is located 40 cm from the corner Kerb at the incredibly busy Ferrars St/ Dorcas St intersection and is very vulnerable to being wiped out by a wayward vehicle.

The infrastructure expenditure required would dwarf the NBN cost excluding the new power stations required. These advocates of all electric vehicles by the year 2040 are completely bonkers. It takes 5-8 years to design and build a large coal fired power station like LoyYang and even longer for a Nuclear one (that’s after you get the political will, permits and legislative changes needed ). Wind and solar just can’t produce enough. It’s just a green silly dream in the foreseeable future other than in small wealthy countries. It will no doubt ultimately come, but not in the next 20 years. So don’t waste your upcoming vote in the federal election on the Greens or Labor because electric cars won’t be happening for a long time yet!

In related news, Lord Deben and his colleagues at the CCC foresee few problems in converting the whole country to electric vehicles in the near future.

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Reader Comments (32)

No issues really

Look - the Germans have nailed it

May 6, 2019 at 4:15 PM | Registered Commentertomo

According to the Green vision of the Guardian readers we will not want to own cars soon.
Instead we will rent a car that will drive itself to us as required.
https://discussion.theguardian.com/comment-permalink/124565329

Of course, this is assuming that people will only rent cars at different times - presumably pricing the poor out of travelling at rush hour. And it assumes that people won't want the convenience of treating their car as an extra room. So it's total rubbish.

But if you want to know how the Greens envisage generating this extra energy then you need to know about this idea. They plan to tax away the private ownership of cars.
About as politically viable as banning pet cats (unless we are in a perpetual state of emergency).

May 6, 2019 at 5:43 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

[DELETE] Double Post. Sorry. Computer too keen.

May 6, 2019 at 5:43 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

They were supposedly going to install 80 charging point in the House of Commons car park. I wonder how that project is going?

John Hayes announcement:
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2017-10-23a.59.4#g78.2

6 months later:
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2018-05-17a.836.4

80 x 50kW is 4MW. No chickenfeed supply!

May 6, 2019 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

idau

judging by what I've seen of the electrical power provision at Westminster (a bit... ) they'd have to do some fairly serious digging to get that in - I sincerely doubt that existing cabling / distribution which is already creaking would suffice for an extra 4MW

I've been involved with a few fresh feeds for industrial equipment in central London and the infrastructure away from recent developments where fresh provision has been made is surprisingly rickety - in some cases the only viable solution is a diesel generator.....

May 6, 2019 at 9:05 PM | Registered Commentertomo

weird - two posts for the effort of one!

May 6, 2019 at 9:06 PM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo

Time was when they could have run an extra cable along the Thames from Bankside!

May 6, 2019 at 9:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

idau

indeed.... I don't know where the nearest substation / feeder is to the HoC car park - but the delay in provisioning hints that it ain't a straightforward exercise :-) reality bites?

Having spent a few days recently in and around the South Bank complex I was quite surprised to see that he only street chargers were tiddlers and the APCOA car parks didn't have chargers in them.

4MW would be quite a reasonable CHP system....

May 6, 2019 at 10:45 PM | Registered Commentertomo

For public charging (44% of UK cars don't have access to garages), many other factors need to be considered including planning permissions, installation (trenching, signage, disability access, traffic protection, lighting...), maintenance..
See this report from the U.S. DOE- https://afdc.energy.gov/files/u/publication/evse_cost_report_2015.pdf

May 7, 2019 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterGautam Kalghatgi

According to the salesman in Nissan car showroom Purley Way Croydon you can only rapid charge a Nissan Leaf once every four weeks because you’re putting 60 A into a battery in less than 40 minutes and you knock the bollocks out of the cells. So anyone thinking of using electric charging for Uber minicabs and taxis can forget that idea.

May 7, 2019 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

If only they had electric cars designed with ease of swapping spent batteries on the market eh. Im sure that would fix all our problems :)

May 7, 2019 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

jamspid

the lack of an active cooling system on the Leaf has attracted quite a bit of coverage - but I suspect it's something that is swerved by salesmen :-) even the latest models don't cool the battery pack effectively and overheating causes issues

May 7, 2019 at 11:53 AM | Registered Commentertomo

jamspid

the lack of an active cooling system on the Leaf has attracted quite a bit of coverage - but I suspect it's something that is swerved by salesmen :-) even the latest models don't cool the battery pack effectively and overheating causes issues

May 7, 2019 at 11:54 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Leaf charging woes


I still like the idea that people sold Leafs for a "near max range" commute can't use the heater or A/C unless they want to finish the journey by bicycle or Shanks pony.

May 7, 2019 at 11:57 AM | Registered Commentertomo

duplicate

May 7, 2019 at 11:59 AM | Registered Commentertomo

seems like something is wonky in squarespace world

May 7, 2019 at 11:59 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Leaf charging woes


I still like the idea that people sold Leafs for a "near max range" commute can't use the heater or A/C

May 7, 2019 at 12:14 PM | Registered Commentertomo

He lifted the bonnet i looked underneath So it has two batteries the traction battery in under the chassis and it has another standard 12V battery for the normal electrics.Also a radiator and a fan grill which surprised me.Cant see how an electric car can run hotter than a normal petrol car.And standard front wheel drive .The sales man says the air con permanently on will knock thirty miles off the 130 mile range.Extra charging in the summer.

If you want a portable backup battery to charge at home when you’re out that weighs 56kg on a trolly that you have lift into your boot that only gives 40 miles extra range and a load of backache for everyone.

I told the sales I’m a Climate skeptic I hate eco fascist environmentalism and Extinction Rebellion protestors are middle class rich snobby wankers and he quietly agreed with me.

The only driving I do is backwards forwards to work ,the shops ,driving to the park with the dogs and sex with the ex and the pub.If I had a drive Way I would get an electric.Sorry to let side down .Im into old Milfs not old cars.My boy racer days are long gone.

A new Nissan leaf is 22k forget that.
Second hand leaf is 13k with 5 warranty on the main battery ,leasing is £300 per month with a 10 year warranty on the main Battery.

The fact you can’t 40 minute rapid charge them twice a week kills the idea of a normal urban driving electric cars.Which is sad shit for everyone with a breathing problem or just trying to get about who lives in a city.

Electrics are pollution free maintence free ish other than brake disks and pads ,they are the future but you need a driveway and a spur off your fuse box to a home charging point.Electric Taxis ,delivery vans ,ambulances ,police cars for city stop start driving will come in eventually but any long distance run either a hire petrol car or another car ,So yeah electric cars okay but personal transport its still a long way off.

May 7, 2019 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

I will now look out of the window and see two unused public EV chargers
.. waiting for the next weed cutting
tweet photo I just took
.. It wasn't a wild guess, I only see a car is charging, one day each year.

May 7, 2019 at 3:13 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

OK the GreenZombieArmy will argue that all you need to is put a couple of solar panels up on the building.
#1 Melbourne isn't actually like the TV, it does have quite a lot of cloudy days.
So even if you did something wacky like use PV to charge building batteries which then charge car batteries at night, a lot of days you'd still need to import current.

Maybe someone could tell us how many average "panel hours" it would taks to charge an EV battery including the losses. In Melbourne.

Are EVs allowed to be parked in enclosed garages beneath. apartments ? There is a lithium fire risk.

May 7, 2019 at 3:30 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The author does not understand the true purpose of a war economy
Namely financial concentration and control.
Its actually good that costs go up under these dastardly circumstances..
The object of the game is to actually prevent real consumption.
The more that is wasted on intermediate ( investment ) consumption the better.
Full employment servility is the obvious
result .

May 7, 2019 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Interesting stat from some guy on a TED Talk .For a quarter of a mile of Traffic on the M6 motorway it’s needs eight square miles of land to create the renewable energy to power it.

May 7, 2019 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=MSM01&PLanguage=0

Irish electricity output ( see above )again showing definite signs of decline in the first 3 months of 2019.
Yet electric car sales up 300 %+ to 1500~ vehicles .
Also hybrid vehicles showing very robust growth..
In a war economy you can indeed present impressive production / consumption stats but it is achieved only through rationing of the population..
We now know the function of present production is not human consumption.
But if it is not what is its purpose ????

The western world is now very Germany 1944 ish..
Record production but very little fuel to propel them .
I am sure if they further ration the residential and town commercial premises they will achieve their targets...

May 7, 2019 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

The Wartime Economy in a Climate Emergency.Tut Tut the Royal Family really . Harry And Megan having a White ,Black,Ginger Gender Neutral baby And Its a German ..An extra human Carbon Footprint the Planet can’t afford.Naughty naughty.Its yet another Royal Brat the British Tax Payer has to keep at least it brings in the tourists. Can’t wait for Megan,s dad the other proud grandfather to turn up at the Christening.LOL.Mind how you go.

May 7, 2019 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

A well off cousin of mine now drives a BMW 530e .
I can assure you the electric car boom is beginning to pick up in Ireland.
Its been fun driving around South Kerry with him hunting for elec charging points .
I do not talk politics with him as he is hopelessly corporatised and of course because I am getting a lift.....but he genuinely thinks he is saving a little piece of the world .

May 7, 2019 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

There has been 715 plug in hybrids sold in Ireland in 2019 ( Jan to April )
A 100% rise vs this time last year.

https://stats.beepbeep.ie

May 7, 2019 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

M Courtney above ….as a gardener I fully support the banning of domestic cats, but as the recipient of a (fairly) decent pension from a British oil major who have swallowed the global warming lie tooth line and sinker (stinker?) I was not too surprised to learn that they have absorbed Britains largest ev charging company.
I do not recall the name of the outfit, but it will give BP a monopoly of garage charging points in the future.
In our local small town here in Scotland we have approximately 100 public parking places. Recently the local Cooncil have introduced parking charges.The locals and diminishing small shopkeepers are up in arms about this. What they fail to relaise is that twenty percent of those spaces have been converted into ev charging points, and as money does not grow on trees, some gullible people have to pay. But the propaganda is so insidious, that they do not connect the issues to global warming. It is believed there are 5 owners of those stupid skalectric cars in town, 3 of which have been paid for by our poll taxes.

May 8, 2019 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

Money does not grow on trees but is produced electronically and a little physically at near zero and at a very small cost.
You see inflation because of the monopoly creation of it . ( It is not part of the commons )
It goes into the hands of the favoured corporates .
A banker sees no real difference between equipping a old armoured division and giving consumer drones the next electric car .
It's the same pointless drive for new technology and fads designed to give you a illusion of progress or something....
What we are witnessing is nothing new under the sun.

May 8, 2019 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

This shambles of a UK government stated a couple of years ago that new internal combustion (IC) car sales would be banned after 2040. I did a back of the envelope calculation in 2017 that is still relevant. I assumed that the current vehicle mix and numbers were maintained but all them became purely electric battery vehicles (EV) (not hybrids, nor hydrogen, nor any to be invented technology), so as not to be trapped into "what-ifs?".

I then made a number of technical assumptions to simplify the calculation: IC average 30mpg for all vehicles; petrol not diesel; petrol energy of 44KWhr per UK gallon; 310.9bn vehicle miles (2014, DfT). Of course you could argue that modern diesel cars get 60mpg, but set against that, diesel has an energy value of 48.9KWhr/gal, and larger cars and vehicles like trucks, vans, buses may get much less than 30mpg.

So Consumption = (310.9 x 10**9)/30 = 10.36 x 10**9 gal (RAC indicates 10.04 bn gals petrol + diesel, for 2014)
thus Energy use = (10.36 x 10**9) x 44 KWhr = 455987 GWhr for road vehicles.

There is also the question of efficiencies, which I have disregarded. EVs are more efficient than ICs, but there is a chain of inefficiencies before the EV even gets to convert battery electrical energy into movement.

In comparison UK total electrical energy demand in 2014 was 359682 GWhr for all domestic, commercial and industrial use (DUKES commodity balance table 5).

My estimate shows that for a similar way of living today we would have to more than double the number of electricity generation plants (assuming the same mix and sizes of Nuclear, Gas, Wind, etc, plants). That is true even if we become more efficient at levelling out demand. There are over 1000 such plants listed on DUKES from tiny Solar and Hydro (0.1MW) to massive Nuclear and CCGT (1000MW+). So we would need to build 50 or so plants of a similar mix to the current mix every year for the next 21 years. And we will still have to replace some of the existing generating plants anyway.

That is so unlikely it almost certainly won't happen unless there is a white swan technical advance. But depending on an unknown is absurd. By all means exploit a new technology when it is invented, but battery EVs are not it. The politicians who sign up to this have no technical understanding. When their edicts fail, after creating mayhem, there will have to be a rethink. The most likely outcome is an extension of the time limit plus an uptake in vehicles with different technologies, including hybrids. One more likely outcome is a much higher cost of car ownership as a result of higher taxes and the higher cost of EVs, leading to lower levels of car ownership.

And I haven't even looked at the infrastructure required. We will need to fundamentally change everything from servicing to charging points in streets and factories, offices and homes. And to supply all the extra electricity the current electricity infrastructure (the grid, and local cabling) will all have to be upgraded or replaced.

May 10, 2019 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBudgie

Spot on Budgie. And (here in Oz at least), the government would lose $billions a year in fuel tax revenue (currently worth about A$10 billion p.a.) but gain very little replacement revenue from EVs unless they invent a new tax (or two). I don't mind policies that support new techologies if they are properly thought through, but these daft 'light bulb' ideas are clearly not. Our federal election happens next weekend, and the two major parties are a fair way apart on this, so we get to have a say about whether we think CAGW is worth supporting or not. Watch this space!

May 11, 2019 at 3:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterBoyfromTottenham

In the late-70s/early-80s I knew people with a pathological hatred of road transport. When they met country-dwellers who pointed-out that farming and rural life generally would be unfeasible without road transport, they expanded their range of hates to include country folk.
A few years later, the fossil fuels global-warming scare took-off and these car-haters jumped on the bandwagon with alacrity (maybe they were the ones that started it in the first place?).
I've since lost contact with them (it being basic human nature to generally avoid/discontinue contact with people who have pathological personality issues), but I do wonder about their reaction to advent of electric cars?
Even if they do manage to stop fossil-fuel use, the roads will still be clogged with the dreaded hated CARS!

May 12, 2019 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJCalvertN(UK)

The current EV proposals are totally the wrong technology being very very expensive, if not impossible to implement. In my opinion hydrogen fuel cells are the only pollution fee practical solution. Hydrogen can replace natural gas, remember before natural gas replaced it Town Gas (50% Hydrogen) was used. As to the question where do we get the hydrogen; from electrolysis fuelled by small scale nuclear plants until fusion comes on line in 40 years time.

Jun 11, 2019 at 11:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

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