California regulator funds expansion of EV charging and DR capabilities


As the electrification of the transport sector intensifies under efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change, so are collaborations between stakeholders within the energy, automaker, and electric vehicle (EV) charging technology industries.

Moreover, over the past years, there has been a significant increase in (EV) electric vehicle-related funding as the three sectors prepare the infrastructure required to ensure an increase in the uptake of EVs.

Studies have identified the lack of adequate EV charging infrastructure as a key barrier to EV adoption hence the need to increase the number of chargers available.

On the utility side, energy companies are striving to ensure grid networks are well prepared for a surge in energy demand due to EV charging. Moreover, technologies are being developed to ensure the use of EVs in demand response programmes for the reliability of grid networks.

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The California Energy Commission is one example of investors funding the development of charging infrastructure and technologies that are helping to drive the transition to clean, zero-emission electric vehicles. By so doing, the energy regulator is hopeful it will reach its target of having 1.5 million EVs on its road by 2025.

The energy regulator has recently issued approximately $3.5 million in funding to EV charging and power solutions firm FreeWire Technologies to help the company to advance its next-generation EV charging product, Boost Charger.

The funding has been issued through the regulator’s BRIDGE 2020: Bringing Rapid Innovation Development to Green Energy initiative, designed to fund continued technology development, demonstration and deployment for the most promising energy technologies.

FreeWire Technologies will further advance the grid services functionality of its technology and demonstrate enhanced ultrafast charging with energy storage at two project sites.

Using the grant, Freewire Technologies will improve the capabilities of its technology by adding:

  • Resilient EV charging even when grid power is unavailable
  • Backup supply to power on-site loads as a microgrid
  • On-site power demand management to reduce the overall energy costs for a Site Host
  • Direct integration with on-site renewable sources, such as solar, to increase the efficiency of the solar plus storage system and reduce its total cost
  • Bi-directional power flow to support charger-to-grid power flow
  • Utility integration to support demand response, grid load balancing and other grid services.

The solution integrates battery storage with advanced communication and control technologies and power electronics to provide an ultra-fast EV charging technology product that will streamline the installation of DC Fast Chargers, respond to grid conditions, and provide power for EV drivers during grid outages.

Arcady Sosinov, the CEO of FreeWire Technologies, said: “With the growth of EVs and charging demand, reliability concerns have risen to the forefront as California’s utilities and grid managers work to balance electricity load and supply. Our CEC grant will support new advancements to our Boost Charger technology that will facilitate the rapid scale up of ultra-fast EV charging, delivering high power everywhere without expensive and burdensome grid upgrades.”

To date, FreeWire has deployed over 200 battery-integrated chargers with Fortune 100 companies, commercial customers, fleets, retail locations, and gas stations including bp pulse. In December 2020, FreeWire and bp pulse announced an exclusive MOU for bp pulse to deploy Boost Charger in its operations across the UK. FreeWire and ampm, a bp subsidiary and convenience store chain with over 1,000 locations, have also deployed multiple public charging stations in the U.S.