Improving people’s lives. Listening to what they need. Simplifying. Developing e-mobility for us began with one thought: putting people at the centre. That choice has led Enel X to offer a portfolio of different products designed to meet different requirements with the locations of the charging stations as the starting point.
For most electric car owners, their own home is where they do most of their charging as the vehicles are parked up either in parking spaces or their garages for many hours every day. This is ideal for long charging sessions, particularly overnight and in such instances there is no need for high-powered charging columns.
In public places or private property open to the public, we focused on people’s habits and layover times, which can obviously vary. This is why we ended up signing a series of agreements with shopping malls, supermarkets and discount stores, hotel chains and restaurants, as well as Municipalities, to install columns on public property.
Outside cities, on high-volume traffic routes, people need to charge their cars quickly with increasingly long ranges guaranteed: hence our decision to invest in more powerful infrastructure (from 50 to 150 kW) to speed up charging times. Naturally enough, the charging power offered by the stations has grown in tandem with the evolution of the cars themselves: it would have made no sense to install infrastructure that was far more powerful than the vehicles’ capacity.
That said, the technology has been evolving very rapidly indeed. As little as two years ago, the maximum power of a column was around 50 kW but that figure has tripled, and we are already testing and making 350 kW columns that deliver very rapid charging and longer ranges of up to 500 kilometres. Indeed we will have installed a hundred across Italy by 2020.
The other need we focused on was simplifying the charging experience by making it as user-friendly as possible. Today, electric mobility guarantees a single charging standard for alternating current and one f0r direct current. But that is not all. The platform controlling the entire network also offers an app to provide users with the information they need in real time on the charging stations: which ones are nearest, which are available and which are prebooked, as well as whether they are working or not.
As Enel X, we are constantly monitoring how our customers’ needs are evolving. This is why we developed Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), a technology born of an innovative idea: when parked up and connected, e-cars are essentially giant batteries and can exchange energy with the grid. So, we now talk in terms of V2G integration because centralised control of the stations allows all charging processes to be modulated intelligently depending on whether the grid load needs to be increased or decreased and also on the time of day. This means that customers can potentially cut their costs and even make some extra money.
We are also developing chargers with mobile batteries (JuiceRoll), which can be moved around shopping malls, for example, and company fleet solutions (JuiceStation), which optimise grid use when simultaneously charging several cars that would be parked up for many hours at a time in the company car parks, guaranteeing significant reductions in costs.
And, to make life even simpler for e-car users, we are developing tools that will make the charging process automatic, and navigators that will get them to the nearest charging station, thereby eliminating any charging-related anxiety. Constant innovation – always at the service of our customers.