IGS Energy Expert Offers Insights on EV Charging

Image of an electric vehicle (EV) being charged at a charging station

The following article recently published in  Retail & Restaurant Facility Business. You can access the original article on the magazine's website here.

For more insights from IGS Energy, visit our Energy Resource Center.

There’s been a great deal of conversation related to electrification in the last several years, as people look for ways to reduce their footprint while still powering their homes, businesses, and lives.

Put simply, electrification refers to replacing technologies and processes that use fossil fuels with electrically powered alternatives. These replacements are typically more efficient, reducing energy demand and are likely to have a massive impact on emissions as electricity generation is decarbonized.

While the residential sector is currently driving most emissions reductions from electrification, as electric vehicles (EVs) become more accessible for the average consumer and more homeowners install heat pumps, we’ve seen more and more retailers curious about their on-site charging options — both to support their own customers’ EV use, as well as their employees’ needs.

Investing in on-site charging

As the adoption of electric vehicles continues to rise, retailers must adapt to their employees’ — and customers’ — evolving needs. One area in which electrification makes the most sense for these businesses? On-site EV charging.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its 2023 Annual Energy Outlook, in 2022, EVs made up a 7 percent share of the U.S. vehicle market. Per the International Energy Agency (IEA), we’ll see significant growth in EV adoption in the next few years, with an annual compounded growth rate in EV sales of about 30% by 2300. Dozens of the world’s largest manufacturers have committed to increasing their EV offerings and more than 10 of the world’s largest manufacturers have declared electrification targets.

Most EV charging will take place at home. However, as EVs become more mainstream, customers will seek out charging from their go-to retailers and restaurants. 

Options for on-site EV charging

For retailers considering an onsite charging installation, there are two primary options: level 2 charging and direct current fast charging (DCFC). Today, about 80 percent of EV charger installations are level 2. When choosing what’s right for your business and customers, you must consider the energy impact and the duration needed to charge. Here’s a quick comparison: 

Level 2 charging

The average demand for a PHEV (hybrid) vehicle is 4.9 KW, and a full charge takes between 1 and 2 hours. For an EV, the average demand is 11.4 KW, and a full charge takes between 4 and 10 hours. 

Fast charging

Most fast chargers do not work with hybrid vehicles. For an EV, the average demand is 105 KW, although there’s a significant range. Fast chargers typically operate between 50 and 350 KW. Full charging takes about an hour. Ultimately, fast chargers use significantly more energy but charge in much less time. 

Impact on your energy demand

Electric vehicle usage dramatically affects a consumer’s typical energy load profile, resulting in peaks in the morning, when consumers are driving to work or running errands, leading to an increase in work and public charging, and in the evening when customers return home to charge.

This added EV load may result in peaks later in the day that could correspond with times of higher energy prices and grid demand. These peaks could become a reality for retailers and restaurants as they explore installing charging stations.

As EV chargers can effectively double demand charges and increase overall energy costs, retail business decision-makers should lean on their energy supplier’s insight to determine the right action plan. A supplier should be able to identify usage and demand patterns, highlight customer peaks and calculate how much energy costs could increase with the inclusion of added charging demand.