08-07-2019 | | By Nnamdi Anyadike
The age of the EV is soon upon us, bringing an end to the 100 year hegemony of the internal combustion engine (ICE). However, an increase in the availability of next generation wall boxes to provide speedy EV charging is crucial to ensuring an even more rapid uptake in demand for these vehicles. Wall boxes are wall-mounted electric chargers, which can be installed in homes, offices, dealerships, and other public areas. Key manufacturers, according to a recent market report, are: ABB, AeroVironment, Bosch, Delta Electronics, Lafon Technologies and Phoenix Contact.
Alfa Power, the UK provider of EV networks and charging solutions for homes, fleets, the workplace, and local authorities, recently became first the CPO (Charge Point Operator) to adapt and introduce DC wall box technology to the public market. The new charger delivers 25kW per hour, which is much higher than can be achieved using AC chargers. The company claims the equipment can be procured at a lower cost than a rapid charger and demands less power supply. The first two DC wall boxes have been installed in Lincoln and at a Nottingham street car park. Another has also gone live at Melton Mowbray.
In June, the UK based Octopus Electric Vehicles Limited in collaboration with Wallbox, a Spanish developer of smart EV charging stations, launched what it claims to be the smallest and lightest vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charger in the world. The charger was developed as part of the £7 million 2018 ‘Powerloop project’ that brings together Octopus Energy and Octopus EV; UK Power Networks; Open Energi; ChargePoint Services; the Energy Savings Trust and Navigant. It is part-funded by InnovateUK.
National Grid estimates that up to 11 million electric vehicles will be on the road by 2030. And Octopus Energy suggests that if even half of those use V2G to power households during peak periods rather than draw from the grid, an additional 38GW of electricity supply can become available. The charger will allow consumers to earn up to £30 cash-back every month through feeding electricity back into the grid from energy stored in their EV’s battery. It uses a silicon carbide inverter to switch power from the DC - that is used to power EVs - to AC electricity for the grid.
Meanwhile, Wallbox is to make its debut in the US market in New York on July 12, during the fully electric car-racing series Formula E championship. This follows the installation of over 20,000 charging units in Europe, Asia and New Zealand. The Spanish company says that despite the encouraging 81% growth in the US EV market in 2018 the lack of charging stations in the US remains an obstacle for the deployment of electric mobility.
In May, the German based electronics firm, Mennekes Elektrotechnik GmbH & Co. KG, launched a new product portfolio of intelligent charging wall boxes. Known as the ‘Amtron Professional +’ and the ‘Amtron Professional + PnC’ the boxes are equipped with Amtron’s latest features. These include a built-in modem, which eliminates the need to connect the devices to an additional external modem/gateway. The wall box has a ‘Plug & Charge’ function and comes with a type 2 socket or a permanently connected charging cable and type 2 coupling. All variants support a charging power of up to 22 kW. An LED information field provides support to the user. Charging via RFID card, or backend, is also possible in addition to the charging authorisation in the PnC variant.
ABB, the Swiss-Swedish multinational corporation that operates mainly in robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment and automation technology areas, recently launched a new family of AC charging stations. It claims that it is the cheapest comparable charging solution available for homes and businesses. The ‘EVLunic’ AC wall box is easy to fit and with a compact design of 50cm2 by 25cm2, it can be installed at homes or offices. It is particularly suited to businesses that wish to provide overnight charging facilities for customers, such as those in the hospitality business.
The box comes in four specification levels: the ‘EVLunic Basic’ with 4.6KW charging power; the ‘EVLunic Basic+’ with 11kW and 22kW charging power and optional RFID and key authentication; the ‘EVLunic Pro S’ with 11kW and 22kW charging power and an energy meter and authentication options; and the ‘EVLunic Pro M’. This has the same options as the Pro S type and acts as master for the Pro S concerning load management. The company web site explains: "The new AC wall box portfolio, comprised of 52 different types in total, provides a high quality, cost effective electric car charging point for private and business use.”
The global DC wall box charger market is growing by leaps and bounds with one recent CAGR forecast putting growth at 66.93% between 2018 and 2023. However, there are still some challenges that are hampering what would otherwise be even stronger growth. These include: a lack of standardisation and the high cost of equipment and installation.