From an interview with Rob Speirs, General Manger Sales and Marketing, Evnex
New Zealand is having growing pains. With 12% of all new cars currently sold being electric, the pressure is on to provide coordinated and cost-effective charging in medium- to high-density housing. Rob Speirs, General Manger Sales and Marketing of NZ company Evnex, told me similar stories to what I am hearing from Australian providers.
Auckland is the most populous area in NZ, with almost 2 million inhabitants. The city contains a lot of medium- to high-density housing. There are many apartment blocks under construction which range in size from 16 units to 70. Developers are giving consideration to the provision of EV charging, but having some difficulty getting their heads around some issues. For example, how much power needs to go into the building? If the building takes 1000 amps, do I need to allocate 200 amps for EV charging? What happens during peak? Off peak? How many parking spots will that service? Do they all have to be electrified? Electrical consultants are grappling with a new world order as developers move in the direction of installation.
Rob tells me that the Body Corporate Chairman’s group has done a membership survey of 350 members. The biggest issue is how to advise members on the best process to engage. Like any emerging industry, there are good and bad stories. One 50-unit apartment building in Auckland allowed residents to install a mixed bag of chargers. Some are smart and some are not. Even with a dedicated board, it isn’t working well. Some have installed 22 kW chargers and others 15-amp plugs. The Tesla chargers are taking out too much energy. It looks like they need to be removed and refit. The load is just not managed well.
Evnex recommends that core supply installation be done first. Then install individual chargers as necessary now that the core infrastructure is already there. The chargers talk to each other and the system. Evnex can supply chargers and also accommodate 3rd party chargers.
There is currently no government support for fitting chargers in apartment buildings. Evnex and other providers are having conversations with the governmental agencies about smart charging and expect that by 2024 there will be some regulation and perhaps some stimulation of the market. However, there will be a lot of buildings erected between now and then — probably needing to be retrofitted. “We need either a carrot or a stick or perhaps both,” says Rob.
Perhaps a big part of the equation is the need for education for the public. Rob lives in a treelined suburb in Auckland — everybody is a greenie. This street has about 9 out of 30 houses with electric vehicles. Two of those households are multi-EV households. As there is no off-street parking, one resident has taken to running an extension cord out the window and across the footpath to charge his car. We’ve all done crazy things in an emergency situation, but apparently this is a regular practice.
The cord is inserted into a specially modified Tupperware box, then connected to the car’s trickle charger inserted from the other side. This area receives a lot of rain!
“Have you thought about putting in a wall mounted charger?”
“This works just fine!”
The neighbors are waiting for the explosion (from overheating), or the old lady tripping up as she walks her dog, or the police.
Rob tells me that they see the 3-pin plug as their main competitor in New Zealand, not other smart chargers. “Most people will think that using 3-pin plug is the right choice — cheap and convenient. But it is the worst choice from a utility point of view because it is uncontrolled charging. We need to foster energy flexibility. Putting in a smart charger at home and at the workplace is the best choice for the long term.”
Energy flexibility can be traded. Electricity distributors need to be flexible for security of supply and are willing to pay for it. The system is still working out the scale of EV chargers that can provide this. Just like large electricity uses can make a cost a benefit, so can EVs, thus achieving the best price for the cleanest energy. Evnex is actively seeking flexibility traders.
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.