In 2018 the Smart Otaniemi Smart EV charging pilot sparked from the observation, that smarter charging solutions have great potential to minimize the impact the electric vehicles might have on the grids in the future. During these two years, the pilot team has successfully developed new charging methods as well as EV charging models and aggregation plans, but has also faced setbacks with engaging real estate owners and investors and found out that there are new questions emerging all the time as the electrification keeps evolving. It has become clear, that there are multiple things to develop in the field.
Commercial transport in a turning point
One of the interesting fresh viewpoints to EV charging is the electrification of commercial and municipal vehicles and machinery, which will set new requirements for functionalities of charging stations and multipurpose chargers. Regulatory actions are paving the way – for example, the implementation of the EU Directive concerning the promotion of clean vehicles in public procurement in Finland is being prepared and the requirements will be applicable as from August 2021. The proportion of EVs in public procurement concerning vehicles and transport services is expected to increase significantly. How the existing and forthcoming infrastructure is going to respond to the growing electric fleets?
One good example of a forerunning solution serving public needs is the e-bus charging station that Plugit operates in Sello bus terminal in Leppävaara. The procurements with EVs have now become more common, but when the HSL procurement took place in 2018, it was the first in Finland to specifically ask the bidders for electric buses. Consequently, new infrastructure was needed.
With a long background in service and maintenance, Plugit has been able to collect and refine extensive knowledge over customer habits and common problems prevalent to EV charging infra, which has been a great advantage at Sello as well. “Reliability is the key”, says Topi Aaltonen, Plugit’s Sales and Marketing Manager. “We are responsible for the overall charging services at Sello – public transport needs to stay in schedule, and charging cannot form an Achilles heel to that. Good service bases on knowledge and is built layer by layer: first the reliable infrastructure, then the technical interfaces, user interfaces and finally user applications”.
Local decision makers in a position of power
According to Aaltonen, the cities and municipalities hold a considerable power when it comes to electrification of transport. Sustainable and resource-wise thinking roots from sufficient basic information: it is difficult to make good decisions without practical experience or wide comprehension over the operational environment. Holistic approach is essential and new solutions will be thriving only if the different service providers, user groups and customer needs are taken into account in the first place. Buses, taxis, logistics – all have different operational patterns and business models, and it is important to understand them to be able to build well-functioning shared charging infrastructure. “First you need to understand the business. Everything else comes after that.”
Plugit is developing charging services and technologies continuously, but Aaltonen welcomes new cooperation and practical pilots that support the development. “Central part of the so called Plugit-philosophy is the accumulation of knowledge. As a company, we want to share our findings and make sure, that the society is ready for electrification of transportation.”
In Smart Otaniemi, the new generation of EV charging projects is already sprouting. After the lessons learned from the first piloting phase, the targets have been set to new heights. Only time will tell, how the electrification of transport and machinery progresses in practical level, but at the moment horizon is broad for research and development.
Are you interested in learning more about Plugit services, or e-bus charging at Sello? Feel free to contact Topi Aaltonen:
Sales and Marketing Manager, Plugit
+358 46 810 1684
Text: Tytti Nikunen, VTT