Owners and developers will need to make significant changes to their properties.
The electric vehicle market is charging up, as Barron’s notes. GM, Ford, Honda, Renault, Volvo, and even consumer electronics giant Sony are in the race. The near future looks to be more than mentions of Tesla.
Commercial real estate needs to pay attention because there are some significant impacts on building and facilities design that mean special considerations and, for existing properties, changes that will likely be needed.
Whether consumer vehicles that workers or customers would bring to a parking lot or delivery trucks that needed charging, there are practical implications of electric vehicles.
“For most commercial and corporate occupiers space impacts should be minimal. EV charging will likely occur in already designated parking spaces converted for use,” Chris Willis, vice president at Turner & Townsend, tells GlobeSt.com. “In older urban centers where space for parking is already limited, the desire for charging from consumers may lead to some reduction in attractiveness. Commercial charging is likely to occur either as additions or conversions of existing fuel station networks or in new-build sites.”
Then there’s delivering the necessary power. “The minimum power requirement will be 100 kilovolt-amps or more, assuming 10 parking spots are dedicated for the commercial installation of chargers,” Hemal Doshi, president of Universal Green Group, tells GlobeSt.com. A kilovolt-amp represents the power being used in an electrical system and is less than the available power because of efficiency losses. At best, 100 kilovolt-amps would mean power of 100 kilowatts. More likely, the necessary power in kilowatts would have to be higher.
Charging takes time. “It can take 6 to 12 hours to charge a Tesla on a Level 2 (240-volt) home charger,” says Adam Lubinsky of design firm WXY Studio.
Although the fastest commercial chargers can get the job done in far less—15 to 20 minutes according to Doshi, depending on the type of vehicle, faster charging means more available power.
Charging also costs money.
“Electric vehicle charging adds significant load to properties and increases demand charges, which can represent as high as 70% of a commercial owner’s energy bill,” says James Geshwiler, chief strategy and investment officer at Catalyze, which consults in adding renewable power generation to properties. “In the case of a multi-family or mixed-use property, when everyone comes home from work and charges their vehicles at the same time, the demand charges spike. Converting the blueprint for commercial property to accommodate electric vehicle charging can be deceptively challenging and requires significant scale to be successful.”
And, as Willis adds, “Advancements in technology may require future upgrades to charging docks, which should be budgeted so the equipment does not become obsolescent.”
“Monetizing this real estate use or defraying costs for charging is critical to real estate,” Lubinsky says.
With current technology, electric trucks bringing loads will likely have to recharge before returning to their origin.
Power requirements in urban centers can become even trickier as the nearest substation may or may not have the capacity to deliver what multiple companies will all need.