Electric vehicle charging equipment built to last and built to integrate

electric vehicle charging
© iStock/Ladefabrikken AS

Viridian EV offers low cost integrated technology and bespoke electric vehicle charging charging solutions which solve problems rather than create them.

UK-based Viridian EV originally identified a gap in the electric vehicle (EV) market for a reasonably priced metal chargepoint that was built to last and would not rely on excessive plastic use. After creating the Classic chargepoint, the company has now developed and engineered the EcoLite® electric vehicle charging range. Viridian EV has the ability to turn what can be high cost products or solutions into simple, functional and scalable options which do not compromise on quality and only do what they need to do.

Viridian EV has witnessed the market change over time from the perspective of owners and drivers of electric vehicles. Insufficient access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure has always been a concern of the consumer, but with EV costs declining, the secondhand market becoming more significant and ranges increasing, charging infrastructure is a growing concern. Though a growing number of chargepoints have been installed, the complex ways in which they must be accessed and paid for are proving a barrier and point of frustration for the consumer.

OLEV incentives to support electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the UK

The UK government has renewed its commitment to incentive schemes to support the adoption of EVs and the implementation of additional charging infrastructure: two key pillars of the Road to Zero strategy set out in the summer of 2018. This strategy sets out ambitious targets and continues to create challenges for the public and private sectors. The challenges and funding available for technology innovation will help bring the UK market in line with those leading the way in the EU.

Part of this strategy also saw a change in the technical requirements for the EV Homecharge Scheme (EVHS): since July 2019, newly installed chargepoints must be ‘smart’. This is part of a logical step towards a robust infrastructure and securing the integrity of the national grid UK, though we see it more of a short term workaround: perhaps a better (though admittedly long term) solution would be to invest heavily in upgrading the national grid infrastructure and optimising it in other ways to support the electric future; such as incentivising further microgeneration and decentralising energy sources.

Overtime, the UK government has made less grant funds available to the EVHS but costs of hardware have increased as smart technology becomes a requirement. If this cost is not passed wholly on to the consumer then the manufacturers are presented with the challenge of increasing functionality without dramatically increasing costs. This sometimes comes at the expense of quality or pushes more of the supply chain outside of the UK and EU – which can be bad for carbon neutrality.

Viridian EV believes there should be more funding for innovation as well as further incentives for infrastructure growth if the UK is serious about being a market leader. At the very least, the amount of grant funding available should not decrease until certain targets set out in the Road to Zero strategy have been met.

EV chargers and technologies to support infrastructure growth

Viridian EV has successfully developed its own EV chargepoint controller – the EPC. A device which could be considered the ‘brain’ of the chargepoint and which, at its basic level, enables safe Mode 2 or 3 charging under IEC 61851.

The EPC confirms that an EV is safely connected and enables charging at the correct current. The charging current can be defined by a number of things: the vehicle’s onboard chargers, the current rating of the portable charging cable, the rating of the chargepoint; or, as is becoming more common, an external or even remote source of information.

The use of remote data is particularly relevant to smart charging where information from microgeneration monitors, smart home systems, distribution network operators or even energy companies can inform the controller how much current is available or what the unit cost of electricity is – the controller can then determine what time of day to charge the vehicle and at what current, for the most cost effective charge.

The simple technology built into the original controller which allowed the charging current to be dynamically changed has found its way into numerous other projects; from simple chargers built by other OEMs to a smart system specified and installed by Tier 1 automotive suppliers.

Facilitated by Viridian EV, the EPC and other evolutions of this hardware has enabled other OEMs and tech startups to innovate energy efficient electric vehicle charging technologies.

EcoLite®: Multiple charge points, one supply

As prices decrease and incentives continue, more households are buying their second electric vehicle. This is particularly relevant in Norway, where incentives are still strong; but it presents a potential problem: domestic properties may only have enough capacity to install one 32A chargepoint but may need to charge two electric vehicles. Our response to this, which has seen success in Norway, is our Simple Load Sharing technology (SLS).

An SLS-enabled EcoLite® chargepoint allows two chargepoints to be installed on the same spur from a distribution panel rated for a maximum of, in this example, 32A. When two EVs are plugged in, the system will dynamically share the total power (nominally 50% / 16A) between each vehicle. When one EV finishes charging or is unplugged, 100% power (32A) is made available to the other EV. The technology allows for infrastructure growth without putting too much demand on the grid and allows for scalable and cost effective installations. This works for most situations where a charge session during the working day or overnight at around 3.4kW (depending on total system power) is sufficient for the next journey.

Load balancing is the next natural development to support effective infrastructure growth. This technology, called Dynamic Load Sharing (DLS), is coming to market as an EcoLite® chargepoint option this summer. Viridian EV will be releasing different complexities of this technology to support different budgets and applications. In summary, the technology will allow banks of 20 chargepoints to balance the available power between EVs which are plugged in and charging. In its first and most cost effective phase, this is achieved through RS485 wired comms and will be a ‘fit, configure and forget’ type of installation. The next phase will make use of wireless technologies and will integrate into wider networks using standardised protocols. This DLS-enabled EcoLite® system will be perfect for private carparks and destination charging where power is limited and has to be balanced intelligently across numerous parking spaces.

Viridian EV will continue to develop the EcoLite® range later in 2019 with phase balancing technology, to further make use of infrastructure where three-phase power is available. This technology, as per our business model, will then be available to other OEMs in certain markets in 2020.

Example: a bespoke requirement from a Tier 1 automotive supplier

  • Problem: Customer looking to fast track into the industry with large scale intelligent AC destination charging.
  • Initial solution: Viridian EV’s EPC – product suitability is high for technology integration, ease of operability and is reactive to external input.
  • Customised solution: Customer required custom firmware to be written to react to their specific project measures and add to the scalability of the project.
  • Further support: Viridian EV quickly became a go to for other EVSE and electrical parts for the same project, easing the supply chain for customer.
  • Result: Customer happy, targets met, solution installed at a major site and is now nearly ready for formal launch.

In 2017 communication was established with a Tier 1 automotive supplier looking for an EVSE solution to become the backbone of an innovative EV charging project. Viridian EV was selected to become the solutions provider for EVSE controller. With size and scalability being key factors in this project the customer had some unexpected hurdles to overcome, which was solved with the creation of custom firmware and minor hardware changes.

No more charge network membership cards

The chargepoint market has led itself to a position where there are numerous electric vehicle charging networks operated by different companies which all require a different RFID card for to activate, access and pay for a charging session.

Viridian EV observed this rapid onset of different charging networks and the market reacted as expected and criticised the number of cards consumers would have to carry with them. Viridian took a stance of not adding to the numerous charging networks and the various non-standard methods of initiating a charging session; instead we believe the answer lies in being platform agnostic and not locking the consumer into yet another network.

There are now organisations taking the innovative step to standardise integration and this is where our components and technology will enable other OEMs to leapfrog other network operators and offer charge points that will integrate with various network. Viridian EV’s mantra is to develop hardware with the digital interoperability or firmware layers required for it to become part of a bigger and more centralised intelligent charging infrastructure.

Jack Glover

Director

Viridian EV

+44 (0)117 230 7172

jackg@viridianev.co.uk

Tweet @Viridian_EV

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here