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Building services design & EV charging: 5 common questions answered

As many countries are introducing new building regulations requiring new or renovated buildings to install EV charging points, it’s vital to understand how EV charging should be considered in building services design. We asked our expert Ebad five questions about EV charging solutions, charging stations and load management for real estate.

Ebad Ali Qureshi has worked at Virta as a Solution Architect since 2022. His work mainly involves legal compliance, technical implementation and energy management for EV charging infrastructure.

Virta-people-2022-6-4933-web Ebad

  1. Why is load management such an important topic in constructing and operating EV charging stations in commercial buildings?

Simply put, load management optimises energy consumption. For example, if a building has 300 kW of connected power, the optimal load management ensures that the available power is evenly distributed between all the electrical loads at peak consumption. If EV charging infrastructure is installed on a property, this naturally impacts the total consumption of the building. There can also be sharp fluctuations in electricity consumption depending on how many vehicles are connected and charging simultaneously. This inevitably leads to an overload of the power grid; fuses blow up, and, in the worst case, there’s a chance of a power outage. This can be particularly problematic for commercial real estate, as production and productivity suffer.

“EV charging stations, together with load management, make the energy supply of buildings future-proof and cost-efficient as expensive investments in grid expansion become unnecessary.”

To avoid this potential economic damage, real estate developers must plan and correctly measure the future electricity requirements of buildings already in the project planning phase.

With appropriate load management, building services engineers can reduce expensive and complex grid expansion costs. New charging stations can also be added later without fearing that network capacities will be exceeded.

To sum up, load management smartly distributes the available power. This ensures that connected EVs are charged, and all other loads in the electrical circuit are supplied. Charging stations, together with load management, make the energy supply of buildings future-proof and cost-efficient as expensive investments in grid expansion become unnecessary.

  1. What are the different types of load management?

Once a static load management solution is in place, it takes over the distribution of loads of the EV charging infrastructure. For a pool of charging stations, you can define a maximum power evenly distributed between the individual charging stations - if necessary. This happens in the background as smart charging stations access a Virta Backend system via the cloud. Static load management protects the local grid from overloads and ensures all connected vehicles charge.

All Virta AC charging stations (up to 22 kW) are supplied with pre-configured, static load management.

Dynamic load management solutions go one step further and include all loads in the electrical system. This can be air conditioning, ventilation or lightning.

Virta ALM

Charging stations don’t need to be retrofitted for dynamic load management; a simple software update and a Virta Box consisting of a Smart Energy Meter are sufficient here. This box regulates the energy distribution between charging stations and other loads at the location. A smart meter transmits the load balancing calculations data via the cloud to the Virta Backend system.

  1. How do building services engineers recognise which type of load management is the most sensible for their project?

This depends on the available power at the site. If let’s say, the plan is to install five charging stations and the site has enough free capacity that it is impossible to reach peak loads, then static load management is sufficient. As mentioned, this is activated by default in all Virta AC charging stations.

However, if these five charging stations are installed at a location where peak loads are reached or expected to be reached, dynamic load management is recommended. In this case, future installation of charging stations and their consumption must be carefully planned. Here, dynamic load management is the safest approach that protects other electrical systems on-site.

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  • Which aspects must be considered during planning and implementation, and what support do providers like Virta offer?

Planning for the future is essential. The questions “How many charging stations do I need now?” and “How many will there be in two years?” should be asked. E-mobility is growing, and the need for EV charging stations will undoubtedly increase in the future.

There are guidelines and building regulations requiring the installation of EV charging stations in new buildings, but planning should go beyond these minimum requirements. Power lines and installations should be planned so that the charging infrastructure can be expanded with little to no effort.

“Our job at Virta is to advise companies that want to invest in EV charging infrastructure to find the best possible solution for their project and their specific requirements.”

When planning the electricity supply technology, the energy balance of buildings must be measured carefully. Load management is a suitable way to operate real estate in a forward-looking and future-proofed manner. Costs for an additional grid connection or expensive transformers can be easily avoided.

My job, and Virta’s in general, is to advise companies investing in EV charging infrastructure to find the best possible solution for their project and their specific requirements. We do this from a technical and economic point of view - over the entire project duration.

  • What developments in terms of EV charging solutions can be expected in the coming years?

We can see that EV charging stations now cover higher power ranges. At the same time, the technology is becoming more efficient and cost-effective. This is good news for the industry.

The trend in development is moving towards charging solutions for electric buses and trucks, i.e. heavy-duty commercial vehicles. E-mobility has not yet really arrived in this segment, but we’ll likely see it develop quickly.

We also see an increasing demand for photovoltaic (PV) systems or other renewable energy sources in connection with battery storage and EV charging stations. A lot will happen here in the next few years.

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