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March 2024

The Future of EV Charging

How to use an on-street charger

This April Fools day we may have tried to trick the EV community into believing we’re putting the first rocket on the moon - neither Octopus nor NASA have any plans for this - but it does raise the question: what’s next for electric vehicle charging?

Turns out, there are tons of creative and exciting advancements coming down the line in the world of EV charging, and we’re here to tell you all about them. 

Let’s get plugged in…


EVs have been rising in popularity in recent years, with UK sales jumping by a million units between 2021 - 2023 alone. This growth is set to continue with the global shift towards Net Zero. 

COP28 placed urgency on the transition to greener, more sustainable travel options, with the accelerated need for EVs and chargers reflected in the pledges made. 

So, what can we expect over the coming years?

High-Speed Charging

Not just  an 80s action drama, but the need for speed is all too real for electric vehicle drivers. 

Public EV charging infrastructure can be split into two camps: Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC) technology. 

AC charging is great if you’re planning to park for a while - maybe to shop or go out for a meal - as AC speeds max out at 30 kW. 

On the flip side, if you’re on the go and need a quick charge, DC chargers are what you want. They typically achieve 50 kW or higher - across Europe, DC charging rates max out at 350 kW, meaning getting your vehicle from 20 - 80% charge would take as little as 10 mins.

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You can find more information on charging speeds in our blog: What affects your EV charging speed?

Currently, 2 out of 3 charge points are alternating current (AC), but with an increased demand for faster charging, what's the hold up in getting more DC chargers installed? 

As mentioned above, today’s most powerful charging stations can dispense enough juice to fully recharge a moderately sized battery pack (50kW) in close to 10 minutes. It’s the batteries themselves that can’t handle that pace of charge. But that’s poised to change. 

According to Chao-Yang Wang, a battery researcher at Penn State University, “Existing fast-charging infrastructure is not only available but also largely underutilised”. 

Wang has developed cells that can recharge to 80% in less than 10 minutes. His technology uses an ultra-thin nickel foil to preheat batteries to 60 degrees Celsius prior to charging, preventing lithium plating and allowing for better heat dissipation. 

Currently, these cells are undergoing testing by multiple carmakers.

Solar Powered Public Charging

Using sun power to energise your home has been commonplace for a while, and many drivers who also have home chargers benefit by using solar energy to charge up their EVs.

While using solar panels is more eco-friendly than getting electricity from the grid they aren’t available to everyone. If you’re not able to get solar power at home there are still ways to access it on the public network, using Electroverse.

We have seen a huge jump in the past year of public charging stations using solar energy to partially and fully power their EV chargers - let’s look at just a few!:

So, we know solar-powered EV charging works both on the public network and at home - what's next?

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Photovoltaic Systems

A photovoltaic (PV) panel, commonly called a solar panel, contains PV cells that absorb the sun’s light and convert solar energy into electricity.

While there are no legal requirements in many countries for photovoltaic (PV) system installations, only incentivisation with subsidies and grants, we can expect such laws to be introduced by governments worldwide.

Some countries already have such legislation in place. For example, the Renewable Energy Act in France introduces an obligation for public car parks with over 80 parking spaces to install PV systems, otherwise risking severe penalties. Covered parking spaces are the perfect place to combine PV systems with EV charging.

Solar pannel ev station

Smart EV Charging

Get ready to power up smarter and greener with the game-changing solution: Smart Charging!

So, what exactly is smart charging, you ask? It's like having your own personal energy-savvy assistant. Imagine your charge points chatting it up with your vehicle, coordinating to schedule charging during the most energy-efficient times. That means snagging power during cheaper periods, when demand on the grid is lower, or when cleaner, renewable energy sources are abundant.

With cutting-edge technology, energy suppliers can now keep a watchful eye on EV charging in real time. They can set energy consumption limits, tweak charging rates during peak demand to ease pressure on the grid, and even ramp up charging when demand takes a dip.

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Did you know?

You could cut your charging costs by up to 70% with Intelligent Octopus Go. Automatically charge your car when it's cheapest and get super low smart charging rates plus 6h of cheap energy for your whole home every night.

And here's the kicker: Smart Charging isn't just a cool concept—it's becoming the norm. As part of the European Green Deal's ambitious 'Fit for 55' package, the EU Commission mandates that every new public charging station in Europe must support smart charging. Across the pond in the UK, regulations are getting serious too. All EV chargers for personal or workplace use must come equipped with smart capabilities, ensuring a greener charging future for all.

Plus, with the UK government pledging £16 million in funding for smart charging technologies, the future's looking brighter and smarter than ever before.


Charging without limits

EV drivers who don’t have off-road parking or private driveways can face a challenge when it comes to charging. 

Kerbside charging is the obvious solution, and currently, almost 70% of on-street charge points are lamppost chargers, so what’s next?

The push for electric lamppost charging isn’t over yet, in fact, it is rapidly expanding! Just last year Ubitricity announced that it would be installing over 1,000 charging stations directly on street lamp posts. Brighton and Hove are also set to benefit with over 100 new lamppost chargers set to be installed soon. 

Another solution to charging kerbside that doesn’t interfere with the landscape, pedestrians or cause accessibility issues? Pop-up chargers!

These innovative charge points are designed to lay flush with the footpath so that they don’t create a hazard. You may not even know it’s there until a user activates one and the charging portion of the device raises out of the ground! Pop-up kerbside chargers have been trialled globally with substantial success:

Kerbcharge are an Australian company that have made their beginnings in private pop-up kerbside charging. The pop-up chargers run off the owners electrical supply and were created as an alternative to the, now illegal, practice of running a cable from your home to your car!

pop up charging

Glance to the future, and mobile charging may become commonplace. American firm, SparkCharge, has launched ‘Charging-as-a-Service’ – or CaaS – which allows drivers to request a charging service wherever they are, eliminating installation costs and the long lead times involved in fitting fixed charge points.

Meanwhile, Parky, an autonomous EV charging robot, can locate a driver’s EV in a car park using sensors and then plugs itself into a nearby charge point to charge the vehicle. Robots such as Parky can help support more efficient energy consumption, optimising power usage by recognising vehicle models and adapting its performance accordingly.

Where is the research taking us?

Across the globe Universities, Think Tanks, research units and manufacturers alike are racing to provide the best charging solution to EV drivers. So where is this research taking us?

Is longer range coming?

 1000 Km/620 miles on a single charge sounds like the stuff electric dreams are made of, but it could become reality after Chinese Tesla rival Nio has developed an EV battery with a range of 1,000km — and its CEO tested it out by driving for 14 hours on a single charge between two Chinese cities. Now this technology doesn’t come with a small price tag- over $42,000 for the battery alone- but longer range for batteries is just around the corner, meaning no more range anxiety!

A more affordable option? A company called Graphenano is developing a Graphene battery that it says will offer an estimated range of 500 miles and can be recharged in just a few minutes. The company says its batteries will charge and deplete 33 times faster than lithium-ion batteries. While there are no costs associated with this particular battery yet, we can assume it will be much less than $42,000!

Over the Air Ultrasound Charging

Is it possible to charge your car via soundwaves? Enter uBeam, a pioneering company that turns power into sound waves to recharge your devices wirelessly.

Here's the scoop: uBeam's innovative technology harnesses the power of ultrasound to beam energy straight to your electric vehicle (EV), transforming sound waves back into usable power. And get this, they're not stopping at EVs! uBeam is currently exploring the possibilities of using this tech to juice up smartphones and laptops, but who knows where this might lead

Charge Your EV in 5 Minutes

Speaking of smartphones, the future of charging is about to get a serious upgrade! Enter StoreDot, a cutting-edge startup born from the nanotech department of Tel Aviv University, and they're changing the game with their groundbreaking charger.

What's their secret sauce, you ask? Biological semiconductors. StoreDot's charger harnesses the power of organic peptide compounds, the very building blocks of proteins, to supercharge your smartphone in just 60 seconds flat. And here's the cherry on top: these organic compounds are non-flammable, making for safer charging sessions.

But that's not all! StoreDot isn't stopping at smartphones. They're on a mission to revolutionise electric vehicles too. Picture this: batteries that charge up in a mere five minutes and offer an impressive range of 300 miles. With StoreDot leading the charge, the days of waiting around for your gadgets to juice up could soon be a thing of the past.

Zinc-Air Batteries

Researchers at Sydney University have cracked the code to crafting zinc-air batteries at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional methods. And here's the kicker: these batteries are not only budget-friendly but also boast a safety feature that puts them leagues ahead of lithium-ion batteries—they won't catch on fire!

While zinc-air batteries have long been hailed as the safer alternative, their production costs have been sky-high due to pricey components. But fear not! The brilliant minds at the University have uncovered a game-changing solution. By swapping out costly materials for more wallet-friendly alternatives, they've paved the way for a future where cheaper, safer batteries could be the norm.

So, brace yourselves for a revolution in battery tech! With this breakthrough, we're one step closer to a world where powering up is not only affordable but also worry-free.

Wireless Charging

Wireless charging is like the superhero solution for EV drivers, swooping in to tackle those pesky problems we face. Imagine a world where you never have to wrestle with charging cables again or panic over finding out they're kaput when you're in desperate need of a charge!

Picture this: every parking spot or stretch of road equipped with wireless charging capabilities. No more jostling for a slot at a charging point! In November, we delved deep into the wonders of wireless charging on our blog: "What is Wireless Charging?". Head over there for the full scoop. 

And just when you thought things couldn't get any cooler, American researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, funded by the US Department of Energy, have shattered records in inductive charging for electric cars. Drumroll, please! They zapped a zero-emission car's battery to a full 100 kW with a whopping 96% efficiency. How did they pull off this feat, you ask? Multiphase electromagnetic coupling coils with rotating magnetic fields, that's how! With this genius setup, they managed to hit a 50% charge in under 20 minutes.

But wait, there's more! This groundbreaking tech isn't just a pipe dream—it's been patented by the researchers, which means we could be witnessing its superhero-like powers in action before we know it! So buckle up, folks, because the future of EV charging is looking brighter and faster than ever!


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