Here’s how gas stations can be turned into super-fast EV charging stations

Are gas stations doomed for the long haul, or is there an opportunity to reinvent them as a fast-charging destination for EV drivers?

ADS-TEC Energy, a Germany-based global ultra-fast electric vehicle charging technology company, sees the rise of electric vehicles as a new opportunity for gas stations. Electrek spoke with John Tuccillo, Global Head of Corporate and Government Affairs for ADS-TEC Energy, about what reinventing gas stations into super-fast electric vehicle charging stations would look like and what it would take to let that happen.

Electrek: As we transition to vehicle electrification, what do you think will happen to gas stations and what challenges do gas stations face?

John Tuccillo: I believe that a number of societal trends – including the rise of electric vehicles – present an incredible opportunity for service stations to reinvent themselves to be more appealing to a new generation of drivers and become a purposeful destination. A recent study by McKinsey encourages fuel retailers to seek growth opportunities by increasing the use of their existing real estate, recommending that they reorganize convenience retail operations and move into the fuel refill business. electric vehicles.

This last recommendation is all the more urgent as demand for electric vehicle charging grows alongside demand for passenger and fleet electric vehicles, buoyed by unprecedented support from industry and government, as well as surging oil and gas prices.

The main challenges gas stations face in switching to electric vehicle charging are cost, space, and potential disruption to their business during installation.

Electrek: How can gas station owners convert their gas stations into EV fast charging stations and reinvent themselves as a destination stop for EV drivers?

John Tuccillo: The easiest way to make the transition to an EV fast-charging station is to test the waters: if space is limited, pull out a fuel dispenser and replace it with an EV charging dispenser with the fewest possible disruptions.

One thing is clear: petrol stations must offer ultra-fast charging technology – faster than L3. Anything less will require a customer to spend an hour or more at a gas station. While this may be attractive to their convenience store operations, it will not be acceptable to their customers and it will not allow for a steady stream of revenue-generating activities.

However, installing ultra-fast charging technology is difficult and can be extremely expensive. The existing infrastructure at most current stations will require a major electrical overhaul to support ultra-fast electric vehicle charging. Unless the gas station is along a major freeway corridor, its ability to access the high-powered power lines needed to provide ultra-fast charging is likely limited. Doing this involves getting permits, hiring a crew, digging trenches, pulling lines – and lots of money. But there’s a more reasonable alternative that allows ultra-fast chargers to fit into a gas station’s existing footprint: buffer battery technology.

Buffer battery technology combines energy storage with EV chargers to dramatically increase charger output from the existing electrical grid available. With buffering, the 110 kilowatt input from the grid can be converted to output levels up to 320 kW. This allows ultra-fast charging of the most power-hungry electric vehicles on the market – including the Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model 3 and the future (and revolutionary) Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup – on existing power-limited networks. in just 10 minutes, without additional infrastructure power upgrades. Even lower power networks (50 kW) can be increased up to a power of 320 kW.

Electrek: Are there any notable service stations that have already made the switch to electric?

John Tuccillo: My company sells its ultra-fast buffer battery charger technology through resellers at gas stations in Europe, and soon in the United States. In fact, we just announced a strategic partnership with JOLT Energy, which will install 120 ADS-TEC Energy ultra-fast chargers at 60 ESSO (ExxonMobil) sites in key German cities in 2022.

We have already learned enough to share some best practices. Where space is at a premium – as is the case at most European service stations – the value proposition of being easier and cheaper to install is attractive. Combine that with a small, flexible footprint and quiet operation, and you have a recipe for success.

Our ChargeBox Booster, for example, which houses the batteries and power-boosting capabilities, is not only quiet, but can be easily hidden behind a building or placed in another inconspicuous location away from actual charge distributors. In some metropolitan areas, noise from conventional chargers has been a problem, and there have been numerous lawsuits against operators associated with noise complaints.

A big advantage for the gas station operator is that the driver of the electric vehicle is captive for a certain time, usually between 10 and 20 minutes. This is a real advantage for the convenience store on site, because the driver of the electric vehicle usually comes to buy lottery tickets or have a coffee and a snack.

Electrek: How can US incentive funds for charging infrastructure support these efforts?

John Tuccillo: The US federal government’s plans and funding to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle infrastructure in the United States is both impressive and welcome. Each state that wishes to be considered for funding is responsible for providing its own electric vehicle infrastructure deployment plan. [Editor’s note: All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have now submitted EV infrastructure deployment plans, reported the US Department of Transportation on Tuesday.]

To that end, the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Energy’s joint National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program office recently released its draft requirements for any state seeking a portion of this funding. In many cases, this federal funding can provide up to 80% of the investment and installation costs of a charger.

Gas stations and convenience stores already meet some of the fixed funding requirements such as locations, access, etc. However, by using buffer battery technologies, rather than the legacy L3 fast-charging approach, these stations can deploy more chargers, faster, without significant downtime and lower total cost of ownership. Simultaneously, they will offer their customers much faster charging experiences, typically 10 minutes instead of 30-50 minutes.

Electrek: Are there any obstacles that could slow down this opportunity for gas stations?

John Tuccillo: The central challenge is the question of the availability of adequate power at the station location. Today, most service stations do not receive 300kw service. It’s more likely 110kw or as low as 50kw. Drivers have “range anxiety”, especially on long journeys.

You see, for generations drivers have become accustomed to being able to easily find a gas station, relatively close by, and to fill up quickly. These sentiments naturally carry over to EV drivers.

For gas stations to offer the same convenience in the emerging world of electric vehicles, stations must be able to provide super-fast charging with the same level of convenience and ease of access to the location that they are used to. Buffer battery technologies make this possible now by using the location’s current power, without waiting for the utility set-ups needed for older L3 chargers.

Photo: ADS-TEC Energy

John Tuccillo

John Tuccillo is the Global Head of Corporate and Government Affairs for ADS-TEC Energy, a global leader in EV super-fast charging technology with battery buffering. Previously, he served as a sustainability advisor to Fortune 500 companies and held leadership positions for 15 years at Schneider Electric, most recently as Senior Vice President of Global Industry and Government Affairs. John has over 30 years of experience as a global ICT and industrial business leader, working across hardware, software, components and services categories.

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