Powering the change to zero-emission vehicles

Arcadis global solution director for zero emission vehicles, Simon Swan outlines eight key factors for design and construction of charging infrastructure. 

Arcadis’ Simon Swan outlines eight key factors for design and construction of charging infrastructure.

The pain at the pump due to oil and gas prices increasing across the globe has many governments and organizations seeking to accelerate their zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) transition programs. But what does a successful ZEV program look like? 

Success can take many forms, but the design and construction of ZEV charging infrastructure is paramount to program acceleration. 

Charging the change 

Arcadis’ recent Global EV Catalyst Index examined countries across the world and measured progress against three key catalysts for EV transition, highlighting what countries are doing well and where they could improve. One statement we keep reading about daily in the press: “We need more chargers!” 

As ZEV program plans may be accelerating in priority, I’m increasingly asked what factors need to be considered for successfully designing and building EVCI networks. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, there are foundational elements that help lead to success.

Eight key factors for successfully designing and building EV charging infrastructure networks

Based on our experiences helping fleet managers and organizations make the ZEV transition, thorough upfront planning in eight key areas will bolster charging infrastructure network design and construction success.

Relationship with your organization’s net zero strategy: Many organizations have already set a goal to have a zero-emission fleet by say 2027, and already have ZEVs. If it’s a government agency, they may be mandated to meet this date. Your organization’s Net Zero Strategy is a key factor in EVCI requirements. 

Impact to operations: Operationally EVs result in reduced maintenance due to lack of oil change and engine work. But broader operational impacts must be considered early in the process, such as the required vehicle range per day and opportunities for charging en route.

Accessibility and affordability of public charging: Suitable EV charging infrastructure means reliable charging abilities across the journey (departure point, en route and at the destination). As the number of public chargers increase at different rates across the world, equity must also be kept in mind. 

Site feasibility assessments: Securing power for charging stations could require grid reinforcements, legal agreements and more. Feasibility assessments can help expedite costly, time-consuming steps. 

Stakeholder buy-in: Secure all legal consents and avoid delays by making stakeholder agreements part of the feasibility process. 

Financing and business model options: Compare potential business models against available funding programs to optimize capital spend.

Contract models: Compare different contract models, EPC and EPCM. Take into account project timeline, budget, scale and your in-house capabilities. 

Renewable energy solutions and energy mix: Review battery energy storage solutions and on-site renewables (solar cells, wind turbines, etc.) to maximize resilience and reduce costs. 

Whilst all of these factors are important, I would argue the impact to operations is the most important to organizations. Arcadis has been working with clients facing particular challenges when it comes to the availability of suitable vehicles in line with their asset replacement programs, coupled with the dilemma that many electric vehicles don’t meet their performance specifications and there is a lack of affordable power. 

Learning from early adopters 

There is greater investment, supply and choice of vehicles in those countries where the governments have been more proactive and grants are available to pay for the increasing cost of power upgrades. Some European countries have announced a ban on all new petrol/gasoline and diesel cars from 2040 onwards to reduce the environmental risk from rising levels of greenhouse gases, and governments across the globe have recently taken action. 

The zero-emission ambition and enthusiasm of early adopters across the globe should be applauded and we must also take the opportunity to learn from their experiences. Technology is developing faster than some organizations can implement their EV programs. For example, an EV hub I visited recently took so long to get off the ground following municipality approvals, the grant application process, and power upgrades that the infrastructure deployed is already out of date and will soon need to be replaced with more powerful and appropriate chargers. 

Finding the optimal solution for charging, procuring, installing, and maintaining a fleet of electric vehicles can rapidly become a complex project and at Arcadis, we know that one size doesn’t fit all and it needs to be a tailored approach. 

Simon Swan is Arcadis’ global solution director for zero emission vehicles.

If you would like to contact Rob O’Connor about this, or any other story, please email roconnor@infrastructure-intelligence.com.