Roadmap For EV Charging Infrastructure: Transitioning To Zero Emission Mobility With Renewable Energy

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An in-depth look into what makes the technology of VFlowTech’s batteries cost-efficient for utility scale implementation ensuring the installation of green EV charging stations are powered by renewable sources.

Article by Dr Avishek Kumar, Co-founder and CEO of VFlowTech
Photo: Dr Avishek Kumar. Photo credit: VFlowTech.

As governments in the region set ambitious targets to drive the transition to zero-emission vehicles by 2030, SouthEast Asia consumers remain on the fence about switching to Electric Vehicles (EVs).  According to a report by Milieu Insight, only Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam had more than half of the respondents considering an Electric Car for their next purchase. However, most consumers were still keener to buy a Hybrid car instead.

A large reason for more respondents choosing hybrid cars over fully electric cars could be attributed to the accessibility to EVs charging points, where charging infrastructure in the region is currently in the early stages of development.  Countries in the region are setting targets to build up their charging infrastructure, with Vietnam as an exception. Vietnam Automobile Manufacturing Association (VAMA) states that the country is still finalising their targets, with limited EV charging infrastructure to date (13 December 2021).

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  • Indonesia : 31,000 charging points by 2030
  • Malaysia : 125,000 charging points by 2030
  • Singapore: 60,000 charging points by 2030
  • Philippines : 200 charging points by 2022
  • Thailand: 7,000 charging points in the “coming years”
Chart above: Milieu Insight surveyed n=1,000 consumers of legal driving age across six countries:  Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and The Philippines (n=6,000 overall) to understand their views and sentiments toward electric cars.

Self-Reliant Green EV Charging Points

Siddhant Gupta, VP Global Energy at Hexagon shared his thoughts on the roadmap for EV charging infrastructure: “Governments in Southeast Asia need to think about two main topics – making charging infrastructure available (overcoming grid constraints and increasing the count of the chargers at various locations) and making sure the Grid energy is green, or at least on a roadmap of getting greener soon. Nothing would annoy a sustainability driver more than to buy an EV and charge it with electrons coming from coal power plants.”

VFlowTech Vanadium Redox Flow Battery 100 kW / 500 kWh. VFlowTech batteries can be scaled based on the size of the battery stack and the volume of electrolyte stored in the tanks, respectively.

Electrification of the automobile industry should not come at the expense of rising electricity costs or overloading the power grid that is still reliant on fossil fuels. Greater efforts should be taken to drive a truly sustainable future where EV charging points should be powered by renewable sources. Only then will the definition of zero-emission mobility truly benefit our planet.

Science Direct predicts that the rise in EV will have significant impact on the power grids because of the surge in power demand if fast-charging stations are installed. Cold climate areas are susceptible to increases in electricity costs that can be as high as 88 percent.

To avoid loading the grid, Green EV charging points can be powered by renewable sources such as solar or wind, and its benefits include lowering electricity costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, one key challenge is that solar and wind are intermittent energy sources as they can only produce energy when there is wind or if the sun is out.

To mitigate these challenges, the goal is to install utility-scale storage solutions for renewables that can ensure 24/7 supply of clean energy to help fuel EVs.

EV Charging From An On-Site Solar-Powered Grid

VFlowTech developed its first test-bed project at Singapore’s Jurong Innovation District with the support of Temasek Foundation to demonstrate that it is possible to integrate renewable energy for EV charging points.

Globally, there is a need for long duration energy storage solutions that can accommodate larger capacities of renewable energy. For example, vanadium redox flow batteries store their energy in tanks, enabling a much larger energy storage capacity as vanadium electrolytes can be recycled more easily than other battery chemistries.

​​The oxidation states of vanadium ions continuously change during charging and discharging with no cross-contamination issues, allowing the battery to work for infinite cycles with no capacity fade and electrolyte degradation. Hence, Vanadium redox flow batteries have a long lifetime of up to twenty-five years with limited degradation, reducing the overall cost of ownership and ensuring cost efficiency.

Unlike lithium-ion and lead acid batteries, flow batteries also have the flexibility and can be scaled to fit the battery’s required storage power (kW) and energy (kWh) where deployments of power and energy vary based on the size of the battery stack and the volume of electrolyte stored in the tanks respectively.

Key Benefits Of Vanadium Redox Flow Technology

With VFlowTech’s proprietary IP on Vanadium redox electrolyte additive, its vanadium redox flow batteries can operate at much wider temperatures than others. The electrolyte — the fluid that transfers charges inside a battery flow from one tank through the system back to the same tank. As a result, it’s much easier to adapt flow batteries to industrial-scale applications without adding extra costs.

In short, benefits resulting from the Vanadium electrolytes include:

  • Battery Life time independent of cycle life.​
  • Ability to operate at peak efficiency independent of external environment factors.​
  • No heating/cooling systems needed. ​
  • Safe for deployments to urban areas with harsh climatic conditions.
  • The water-based electrolytes also eliminates the risk of fire.

Installing Self-Reliant Green EV Infrastructure In South Korea Gas Stations

By replacing existing underground petrol tanks with Vanadium Flow tanks, we have been able to make utility scale implementation much more cost effective, since the infrastructure costs are significantly reduced. Urban locations can leverage on existing gas station infrastructure to provide DC fast charging and net-zero energy balancing where the electrolyte can be recharged at nearby renewable energy power plants (i.e. Hydrogen Fuel Cells).

It was with this concept that we were awarded the project to develop a pilot implementation of a virtual power plant system for nationwide distributed hybrid gas and EV stations in South Korea.

This is a  tripartite partnership between VFlowTech, Seoul National University of Science & Technology (SeoulTech), and Korean-based CompanyWE Inc to install self-reliant green EV charging infrastructure at existing gas stations in South Korea that VflowTech’s vanadium flow batteries will power.

Young Il Lee, director of RC-EIT (Research Center for Electrical and Information Technology) from SeoulTech said, “Korea plans to have 1.13 million electric vehicles on the road with 500,000 EV charging stations by 2025. Our collaboration with VFlow-Tech to install green EV charging stations at gas stations ensures we are ready to meet future energy needs for a fully sustainable energy supply. Our self-reliant green EV charging infrastructure will have a continuous energy supply powered by VFlowTech’s energy storage systems to mitigate the irregular source of electricity from intermittent renewables like solar or wind energy.”

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