What is Semi-Public EV Charging?

Semi-public charging refers to electric vehicle charging at privately owned but publicly accessible sites, such as shopping malls, sports facilities, restaurants, office buildings, adjacent parking lots, etc.

Application of Semi-Public EV Charging

Semi-public EV charging stations are those found at privately owned establishments open to the public. These can be stores, shopping centers, restaurants, sports facilities, entertainment venues, office buildings, etc. As such, semi-public charge points (CPs) can be counted towards the broader category of destination charging.

These charging stations are called semi-public because, typically, they are only accessible to visitors/patrons and during opening hours as opposed to public charging stations that tend to be accessible to anybody 24/7. 

Semi-public chargers may be considered an amenity for customers of the site host, and charging may even be offered for free or as a bonus towards making a purchase at the location.

Importance of Semi-Public EV Charging

Offering EV charging makes businesses more attractive to present and potential customers, bringing a competitive advantage over sites that do not have CPs installed. With the rise of EV adoption, places with chargers will become even more attractive and essential to building an EV charging infrastructure that includes a mix of public, semi-public, and private charging networks. Moreover, having charge points on the premises can increase the time customers spend with the business while waiting for their EVs to reach the desired state of charge.

As far as charge point operators (CPOs) and electric mobility service providers (eMSPs) are concerned, both can draw great benefits from semi-public charging. These types of businesses possess the necessary expertise to manage charging networks and make them accessible and attractive to drivers, know-how that site hosts rarely have and would gladly outsource to someone who specializes in this type of service.

The same applies to cases when the site host is not the owner of the charging stations but is renting out space to CPOs to install their charge points. In either case, CPOs and eMSPs gain access to a vast segment of the EV-driving community by having charging stations at semi-public locations.

There could be a symbiotic relationship between the site host and the CPO or eMSP, where the hosting business benefits from attracting EV drivers, while CPOs and eMSPs benefit from the foot traffic generated at the respective location. Something to consider, however, is that the quality and attractiveness of the charging service are also dependent on the customer experience provided by the site host. Poor customer experience can make EV owners avoid the place, including its charging network.

Practical Example of Semi-Public EV Charging

Let’s consider the following case where a CP owner, in this case—the site host, can benefit from both semi-public and public charging. In this example, the site host is an office building parking lot with CPs installed for employees. This on-site charging network is exclusively available to employees free of charge during business hours (say, 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM) and becomes publicly accessible for a fee after the workday is over (6:00 PM – 8:00 AM).

Additional Information About Semi-Public EV Charging

  • One of the primary considerations businesses have about whether to install charge points is the required investment. Costs may vary significantly based on factors such as the size and location of the charging network, types of chargers needed, and whether the premises need to have its electrical grid upgraded. 
  • Businesses also need to consider how charge points affect the local grid. It is not unusual to need a solution that keeps the integrity and safety of the grid when installing several charging stations. There are two main alternatives—investing in a physical upgrade to the electric network, which can be expensive. Another option is dynamic load management (DLM)—a software solution that keeps energy usage under a certain threshold.
  • Another point to consider is access and pricing. Some semi-public locations can offer their chargers exclusively to visitors for free, as a bonus for making a purchase or a fee. Others can open the charging stations to the public, including non-guests. Finally, there’s also the question of revenue sharing in cases where the site host uses the services of a CPO or an eMSP. This, too, is subject to negotiations and can be implemented in various configurations.

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