Power Engineers Sees EV, Large-Scale Fleet Charging as Growing Business Opportunity

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Erik Hale, power delivery manager, business unit director at Power Engineers, describes the potential in the EV and fleet charging market and how the energy industry is moving toward a carbon-free power grid. Hale was interviewed by Lisa Cohn of Microgrid Knowledge during Microgrid 2020 Global.

To start, Hale shared a bit about his firm, as well as who Power Engineers serves in the energy industry.

He explained that most of the company’s clients are part of the greater electric utility world. However, in the microgrid space, Power Engineers is also working with large facilities, such as military bases, universities and oil refineries.

“We also apply similar technology, or we will be in the near future, for EV and fleet charging in the transportation industry,” Hale said.

According to Hale, Power Engineers serves these customers by acting in the roles of owner and engineer. By doing this, the firm can specify and help procure all the major equipment needed for the job, and then do the design and entire installation of the system, testing, commissioning and more.

“We can also help out with the interconnections, and this works for DER [distributed energy resource] and larger scale projects, such as utility scale BESS [battery energy storage system], solar and wind,” he said.

Because Power Engineers serves the needs of the electric utility industry, Hale said the company has a technical advantage when tackling projects involving microgrids and DER.

Power Engineers views microgrids as a logical extension of DER.

“If you think about it, you have generation connected to a distribution network. Then adding the capability of operating it independently of the network’s grid connection may be desirable in many situations,” Hale said. “It is particularly effective if there is a combination of generation types.”

But microgrids are not without their challenges, Hale noted, pointing out that the question lies in how to make the aforementioned capability cost-effective.

Consequently, Hale thinks that many features of microgrids and the knowledge of how to design one will be even more important in the near future if you want to stay competitive in the energy industry.

Follow Executive Interviews from Microgrid 2020 Global, published regularly on Microgrid Knowledge.

New microgrid and DER technology can be used in fleet charging and large-scale electric vehicle (EV) charging situations as well, and Hale thinks these deployment opportunities are only going to grow in the future.

“From a business perspective, there may be more opportunities in the charging arena than we are currently seeing in microgrid deployments,” he added.

“At it’s root, we view DER as a natural extension of renewables, particularly solar and battery storage,” Hale said. “The integration of DER and renewables and microgrids is then complemented by an information gathering system such as ADMS [advanced distribution management system].”

Hale sees all of these trends as related — the combination of which are helping us move toward a carbon-free power grid.

Join us for the next Microgrid Knowledge conference: Microgrid 2021: The World Awakens to Microgrids, May 11-June 3. 

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