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Prescriptions for hospitals, lessons for campuses

Paythru's Sara Sloman looks at ways of making EV charging fit for the full range of users

Sara Sloman
02 August 2023
Sara Sloman

 

When it comes to electric vehicle charging, hospitals and university campuses face similar opportunities. Both have large parking estates, with a wide variety of users, from fleets of vehicles, to staff and students, to patients and visitors. Both are organisations expected to lead the way in socially beneficial initiatives. And both could benefit from extra revenue.

The NHS has 500,000 parking spaces and 1.27 million employees, and half of trusts already have EV charging infrastructure onsite, with most of the rest planning to. The British Parking Association estimates there are nearly 300,000 car parking spaces across the UK university sector.

The NHS has 500,000 parking spaces and 1.27 million employees, and half of trusts already have EV charging infrastructure on-site, with most of the rest planning to. The British Parking Association (BPA) estimates there are nearly 300,000 car parking spaces across the UK university sector.

Deploying charging can have three big benefits:

  • EV charging can burnish their eco credentials, making them attractive places to work and study
  • EV charging can provide a nice staff incentive, and encourage employees without driveways to make the EV switch
  • EV charging it can generate revenue. To do that, they need to put the charging infrastructure in, but also set up digital payment systems to make it work well.

That means considering all the different use cases.

Fleets may be provided with free charging (obviously emergency vehicles will need a separate scheme). Staff may be offered subsidised charging as a workplace incentive. That will mean creating an app or RFID card scheme that allows them to identify themselves and access their preferential rate. This may need to be capped at some level.

Then, visitors may pay a standard rate, generating income for the site owner. This would likely be accessed on a one-off or occasional basis by a dedicated app developed by the hospital/campus, a card reader on the charger, or at the parking ticket terminal. Parking could also be bundled into the charge price to enhance the user experience.

NHS trusts and universities may also wish to consider offering the chargers to the general public during quiet times, to maximise revenue. For example, local residents may wish to charge overnight, or a number of spaces could be rented out to an electric taxi firm to charge during certain hours. Payment could either be managed via the downloadable hospital app, or via an integration with apps already used by such groups.

In short, there will be lots of different users, on different tariffs, accessing chargepoints in many different ways, therefore, the ability to offer dynamic tariffs to ensure, for instance, that pricing stays in line with volatile energy prices means that any large-scale chargepoint deployment must look beyond the physical charger. Digital technologies allow you to manage the payment independently of the charger, so it exists in the cloud. There it can become highly customised to meet varied and changing pricing needs, as well as joined with adjacent services such as parking to provide bundled payments.

It also means that different front-end systems can be linked to it via an API. So, it is easy for hospitals or campuses to build their own app for their needs. But equally existing apps, such as those for local resident scheme apps or student union apps, can be modified to allow users to access these chargers on defined terms. And other digital payment terminals can be linked to chargers via the cloud-based payment platform without the need for complex physical integrations.
he point is that, with so many parts and players involved, it’s important to embrace technologies that can accommodate this complexity, and set yourself up to manage infrastructure that will evolve. The tech buzzword is ‘platform’ – the bit that sits in the middle and makes everything else work.

It is only by embracing this digital world that physical charging infrastructure can deliver for places – such as hospitals and campuses – which need to provide a wide range of user charging experiences.

Sara Sloman is chief strategy officer at Paythru

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