“10 Lessons Learned” - Part 1 Planning charging infrastructure on company sites correctly
Electric mobility is booming—and many companies are currently thinking about changing their company cars to electric drive. This involves more than just updating the company fleet, however: powerful charging infrastructure also needs to be set up at the company sites. Key things to consider, and how to avoid pitfalls and bad investments, will be explained by the specialists at The Mobility House in two blog posts. Part 1 covers the top five insights relating to planning charging infrastructure.
1. Concept and call for tenders
Whether the company is an SME or a major corporation, thorough planning is essential if the project is to be a success. If a company runs several sites, the charging infrastructure concept should be designed to apply to all of them. Having a consistent set-up makes it easier to procure and install the charging stations and also to operate them subsequently. It is also important to consider future requirements and ensure that the system is scalable (hardware agnostic, open interfaces, etc.). This allows the infrastructure to grow with the needs and the innovations of the future (e.g. plug and charge).
If companies are obliged to offer a call for tenders (e.g. as a public body or because of internal guidelines), they should use this opportunity to obtain tailored solution proposals in the form of detailed tender specifications (possibly also from their preferred supplier). To facilitate comparison and ensure that the best / most inexpensive solution can be chosen, the specifications should be split up into individual subcategories: hardware, charging and energy management system , software (charging station management system), installation, and possibly also service. The chosen charging and energy management systemshould be an open, hardware agnostic system.
2. Funding and refinancing
Setting up company charging infrastructure is a substantial investment. This makes it all the more important to research the appropriate funding programs from federal, state, and local governments early on (current overview of the funding database from The Mobility House, available in German only). The German Federal Government currently provides funding of up to 900 EUR for charging stations, and companies can receive a maximum subsidy of 45,000 EUR per site. A key requirement is that the charging points need to be controlled by a charging and energy management system. For funding, it is normally the case that realization of the infrastructure can only begin once funding has been approved.
For the operating costs of charging infrastructure, there are also attractive refinancing options. For example, companies can receive payment for the CO2 emissions that have been saved by electrifying their fleet on the basis of the “greenhouse gas reduction quota.” And twice over: as vehicle owners, they receive an annual lump sum per vehicle and as charging point operators (CPOs) they are also given up to 20 euro cents for every kWh that is charged from their charging infrastructure. The second—highly lucrative—refinancing option only applies to charging stations with at least semi-public access (where not only employees but also customers/guests can charge their vehicles, for example).
Last but not least, setting up charging infrastructure is a sustainable investment in the future. The German Act on Building-Integrated Electric Mobility Infrastructure (GEIG), which came into force in March 2021, stipulates that when non-residential buildings are being built or extensively renovated, they already have to be provided with a certain number of parking spaces or preparatory installations. If properties already have charging infrastructure, it can therefore be assumed that their value will increase.
3. Permits and mandatory reporting
If the property is owned by the company, a building permit is not normally needed for setting up charging infrastructure. For leased commercial real estate or properties in joint or individual ownership, approval needs to be obtained from the landlord or the community of owners. Cost distribution is also an issue in this context. Experience has also shown that approval tends to be provided, especially given that retrofitting charging infrastructure will sooner or later become an issue for everyone involved—not least because of the GEIG.
For the charging infrastructure itself, a permit is needed from the grid operator for a total power of 12 kVA and above (i.e. even for just two 11 kW charging points). If charging stations are operated with calibrated energy meters, they must also be reported to the relevant calibration authority within six weeks after initial start-up. Ultimately, the building insurance company should also be informed, so that the infrastructure can be included in the insurance coverage.
4. Installation and award of contract
Various scenarios apply for the installation of charging infrastructure. If the project is managed by the company internally, the planning, electric installation, and any civil engineering work can be contracted directly. When choosing the electrical company, it must be ensured that the company can provide evidence of specific experience in setting up charging infrastructure—including the installation of data networks (e.g. with relevant additional qualification according to DGUV regulation 3 and successfully completed installations). The Mobility House has a skilled network of electricians in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and can recommend tried-and-tested specialists in the company’s local area as needed.
If the project is large or if internal resources are lacking, it makes sense to commission an external general contractor that will bring things together and avoid coordination problems. The advantage here is that the company only has one point of contact to deal with and any liability issues can be clarified swiftly.
As mentioned in the introduction, thorough planning is indispensable, but once this is done implementation needs to start without delay. No matter how carefully the planning was put together, it is not possible to predict all future developments and needs—which means bold decision-making is called for. Scalable, open technologies that make it possible to adjust plans later down the line are the way to go when looking for a future-proof solution.
Time is generally underestimated as a factor in planning and setting up charging infrastructure. It can easily take up to five or six months for the concept to be ready, the funding to be applied for and approved, all stakeholders to be informed, and the companies that will implement the work to be contracted. Anticipatory scheduling with a little leeway is therefore a key requirement for successful project implementation.