Charging infrastructure may be more consequential to the adoption of electric cars than innovation in the cars themselves: Having more places to charge more quickly can play prominently in drivers' experience with and perception of EVs. But creating a vast network of plentiful fast charging isn't a trivial effort, as EV haters like to point out: It's a big construction project almost in the realm of the interstate highway system that may exceed the available power in many areas, no matter how much cable you run or chargers you connect to it.
"The question isn't really about utility infrastructure," said John Tuccillo, head of Global Corporate and Government Affairs for ADS-TEC Energy. "The question is really about the available power" that can be delivered through all those lines and substations. If it isn't sufficient to support ample numbers of fast-charge connections, malls, gas stations and other partners will be stuck trying to match their slower Level 2 charging tech with an increasing consumer expectation of a fast visit to pick up food, a curbside online order or just a Slurpee. Counting on drivers to spend longer on errands than necessary to accommodate slower charge times is a losing bet.
ADS-TEC touts a technology called battery buffering that it says can step up grid power at the charge location using special batteries installed in the charge equipment you connect to your car. The technology can fast-charge a car using grid power that would otherwise only support slower Level 2 charging, which doesn't set anyone's hair on fire unless it's installed in their home, a completely different scenario that battery buffering doesn't apply to.
"110 kilowatts coming into a battery-buffered charger is doing two things," Tuccillo said: "It's building storage or power inside the charger, so that it will bump up the power that goes from the charger to the [car]." Tuccillo said ADS-TEC's technology manages both tasks in a way that eliminates down time to allow the battery buffer to "catch up."
Hear the full vision of how battery buffering might turn a strained grid into one that is ready for all the EVs we can throw at it, in Brian Cooley's video interview with John Tuccillo.