Energy Storage is Key to Reducing the Cost of Fast Charging

“Fast” DC electric vehicle chargers that can charge up to 80 percent of a battery electric vehicle (BEV) in under 20 minutes are starting to sprout up in the U.S. Consumers are expected to be willing to pay up to the price of a movie ticket to wait minutes instead of hours to charge a vehicle.

While the convenience is nice for BEV drivers, fast charging has the potential to strain the grid or incur high “demand charges” for pulling power off the grid at peak times. If vehicle charging puts a business into the demand charge penalty zone during a peak time, the cost could be hundreds to thousands of dollars in a single day. Demand charge avoidance is necessary for operating DC fast charging stations, which can draw more than 50 kilowatts of power from the grid, or between 7 to 15 times as much power as “slow charging” a vehicle.

Ever since the first DC chargers were announced, the potential for using batteries to reduce the grid impact has been considered by several vendors. That potential is becoming reality as electric vehicle services company 350Green is deploying DC chargers in Chicago that will be supported by lithium ion batteries. 350Green will install 280 AC and fast DC chargers in the Chicago area as part of a smart grid hub that is being developed in the city in partnership with South Korea. Furthermore, the company has grand aspirations for tying batteries with vehicle charging across the country, and has expanded its business to include a battery assembly plant.

The project also includes equipment from Chicago-based lithium ion battery cell manufacturing company AllCell Technologies and the Illinois Institute of Technology, according to 350Green CEO Mariana Gerzanych. 350Green will open a battery plant in Chicago in August that is targeting grid energy storage applications beyond vehicle charging. Supporting EV charging is “just the tip of the iceberg” for creating services for the grid, according to Gerzanych. In addition to supporting fast DC charging, 350 Green is looking to use the battery systems to sell power back to the grid through ancillary services, and the company will sell battery packs to other grid services companies.

Gerzanych says the company is “cell and chemistry agnostic” in assembling its packs, which gives it flexibility in sourcing from multiple vendors. She expects to assemble 3 megawatts of batteries during the first year, with production starting in August. 350Green has been working on energy storage for 2 years, and other vendors are likely to offer battery systems optimized to support BEV charging soon.

350Green shopped the battery plant to several states and cities, according to Gerzanych. Chicago won because the city provided incentives that eliminated the higher cost of operating within the city limits. 350Green recently installed its first DC charger in California (pictured above) using equipment from Efacec.

Article by John Gartner, appearing courtesy the Matter Network.

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