What property owners and managers need to know about electric mobility

E-Mobility

30.04.2020
Peter Arnet, Managing Director SPIE E-Mobility Switzerland

Electromobility will increase more and more in the coming years and shape the traffic image of the future. This means that property owners and property managers will be confronted with various infrastructure adjustments, as an increased number of electric vehicles will require large amounts of electricity. How should property owners and property management companies prepare for electromobility and the associated challenges?

The development of electric mobility

Electromobility will increase more and more in the coming years and shape the traffic image of the future. The strongest driver behind electromobility is environmental problems such as global warming, the consequences of which are also becoming increasingly apparent in our country. For this reason, most industrialized countries on our planet are demanding ever stricter CO2 regulations and are writing them down in their laws. The now more stringent CO2 values must also be observed by the car industry, otherwise massive penalty taxes will be imposed. Many renowned vehicle manufacturers, such as Porsche, Volvo or Volkswagen, have already announced that the future will be purely electric and that it is therefore only a matter of time before the fossil age is abandoned. This means that property owners and property managers will be confronted with various infrastructure adjustments, as an increased number of electric vehicles will require large amounts of electricity. 

Why does it make sense for real estate owners and managers to start thinking about adapting the infrastructure for electric vehicles today?

Many property owners and managers are already receiving requests from tenants that they need a charging station to charge their newly purchased electric vehicle in the parking garage. In most cases, an electrician is hired to install a charging station. In the coming months, requests from other tenants will follow and the need for additional charging stations for their electric vehicles will increase.

Decision-makers often only realize afterwards that various important preliminary clarifications have not been made and no foresighted planning has been made: often different brands of charging stations are installed. The different charging stations make retrofitting an energy management system much more difficult. Other errors also occur: The installations were only designed for one or a few charging stations and thus the system is too small for continuous expansion. It is worth considering at an early stage how the rising electricity costs can be allocated to the individual tenants and how the administrative work involved in billing electricity purchases can be handled. Without forward-looking planning, people often forget to use "intelligent charging stations". These charging stations register the consumption and can allocate and bill this consumption via a backend system. If a property owner subsequently consults specialists to expand his system for a larger number of e-vehicles, it is noticeable that when the first charging stations were installed, strategic thinking and the development of an electromobility concept were neglected. This has already resulted in many owners having to write off invested sums and to partially rebuild the infrastructure for electric vehicles. 

How should property owners and property management companies prepare for electromobility and the associated challenges?

The first question to ask is how far into the future one should look. Experts assume that by 2035, around 50% of all vehicles in Switzerland will be electric or partially electric. This means that 50% of all passenger cars must have a charging connection. This also means that buildings will have to draw enormous amounts of electricity and that the installations will have to transport large quantities of electricity safely. If the vehicles are charged with 16 A current in 3 phases, 11 kW of power per vehicle must be provided for several hours a day. In many cases this means that the house connection must be extended. Furthermore, the property owner must find an energy management system that works with many different brands of charging stations. Ideally, only intelligent charging stations are allowed. These can be connected to a back-end system so that costs can be allocated according to the consumer and billing can be handled without much effort. In addition, energy suppliers will in all probability want to exert influence in the future in order to avoid overloading the power grids at peak times. We are already familiar with this in the case of hot water storage tanks (boilers), which are heated up at night when the load on the networks is low. However, electric vehicles will consume enormously more electricity than hot water heaters in the future, so load control of the networks is essential.

What should be done before installing charging stations?

Due to the multitude of challenges, we recommend that all property owners and property management companies draw up an "Electric Mobility" guide. Especially when property owners have a large number of different buildings, it makes sense to develop such a guide at an early stage. When a tenant makes an inquiry about a new charging station, the person responsible for the building will be familiar with the necessary specifications and will know how to proceed. Such a guide is usually developed in workshops by e-mobility experts together with the property owners and managers and can protect against many costly mistakes. The expenses that are used for such a concept help to avoid bad investments and save costs in the long run.

Below are some examples of topics that are dealt with at such workshops:

  • How many e-vehicles can we expect?
  • How can electricity purchases be invoiced and passed on to the tenants?
  • Which IT is used?
  • Which energy management system is appropriate for our building?

And much more ...

Conclusion

  • Many property owners and property management companies do not yet know how to approach the topic of electromobility. 
  • Electromobility will continue to increase, and therefore real estate owners and property management companies are facing new challenges and rising investment costs.
  • Acting without foresighted planning often leads to various bad investments.
  • The development of an electromobility guideline tailored to the needs of property management is recommended at an early stage. 
What property owners and managers need to know about electric mobility
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