Ultrafast EV charging and power solutions company FreeWire Technologies and Bell Energy, a Japanese commercial solar system developer, have partnered to deploy Japan’s first battery-integrated Boost Charger. Located in Tsukuba, Ibaraki. This installation is a significant step forward in the build-out of Japan’s fast charging network and the overall electrification of its vehicles and fleets. Tsukuba is located in southern Ibaraki 60 km from Tokyo Akihabara Station and is known as an academic city, home to the University of Tsukuba and a vast number of research facilities including the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center.
The Japanese government recently announced its “Green Growth Strategy” for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. This report highlights the lack of EV infrastructure hindering EV adoption and the need for faster and more convenient EV chargers throughout the country. EV penetration in Japan is still low at 1% today but is expected to reach 20-30% by 2030 as new vehicle models become available along with more competitive pricing and more accessible fast EV chargers.
Although Japan invested early in EV charging in 2012 to build-out an initial network of public EV charging stations, 10 years later, much of this slow-charging infrastructure is not equipped to meet the country’s projected demand for ultrafast EV charging. To meet its aggressive electrification goals, rapid and widespread access to public fast charging infrastructure is necessary, particularly in convenient areas where drivers need to recharge quickly. However, deploying fast charging stations is no easy task. Each legacy fast charger requires access to high-power, which often requires expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes unavailable infrastructure upgrades. This is a challenge for potential charging sites that are conveniently located but have limited power available. FreeWire solves site power limitations thanks to the Boost Charger’s battery-integrated charging technology, which removes the need for every ultrafast charger installation to have a high-power grid connection. By embracing grid-friendly technologies, new chargers can be installed in weeks, not months to years, at a fraction of the cost.
“FreeWire and Bell Energy are pioneering EV infrastructure in Japan, a country long-known for its automotive and technology innovation,” said Bell Energy CEO, Suzuki Katsuzo. “This technology will help us to provide coverage in areas where securing new, larger grid connections would make installing such infrastructure more challenging. We’re delighted to have completed this initial installation and look forward to expanding with partner organizations and customers.”
Boost Charger connects to Japan’s low-voltage 200 V power which recharges a 160 kW internal battery to provide high-power, 150 kW EV charging, equivalent to 150 km in 10 minutes. The system is designed to provide simultaneous charging through dual CHAdeMO connectors. The charger virtually eliminates the costs associated with grid upgrades and reduces ongoing costs by reducing base electricity prices at the site. The flexibility of the Boost Charger solution means that significantly more locations will be able to benefit from ultrafast charging.
“EV drivers across America, and increasingly the United Kingdom are already receiving an ultrafast charge with Boost Charger, and we’re pleased to work with Bell Energy to expand this premium service to the public and fleets in Japan,” said FreeWire Director of Business Development, Rob Anderson. “FreeWire’s technology will be a critical solution for rapidly installing ultrafast charging to meet EV adoption goals nationwide.”
FreeWire was the winner of the 2020 Japan Energy Challenge and has previously worked with Bell Energy to distribute battery-integrated power products. Bell Energy expects to deploy hundreds of charging stations in the next 3-5 years. The Tsukuba Boost Charger installation will be open to the public by the summer of 2021.