Charging infrastructures: how to integrate charging solutions into smart cities to produce value for the customer and the community

Smart cities are becoming a more and more important topic nowadays due to the rapid increase of the world urban population. Such cities use technology and the internet of things (IoT) to improve the quality of life of their citizens. It is an approach of urban development that allows a more efficient use of the urban infrastructures.

Electric vehicles (EVs) play a central role in all urban developing plans. One of their biggest advantages compared to hybrid or internal combustion vehicles is that they can reduce the local emissions from the transport sector decreasing the air pollution of a city.

The EU has the ambitious objective of becoming a climate neutral continent by 2050 and to reach this goal the number of electric vehicles needs to increase largely [1], but at the same time it is necessary that the infrastructure needed for their recharge is widely available and integrated with the other urban services and infrastructures.

The following paragraphs will explain in more detail some of the most important challenges EVs will face in the urban environment.


There are slower and faster types of EVs chargers. Increasing the charging speed results in higher costs, which is the reason why a cost-benefit analysis is needed for charger optimal sizing and siting processe. Consumers can be divided into categories based on cost-effectiveness, loyalty, and quality [2]. Based on those groups, it is possible to choose the best charging solutions. For example, some customers are willing to pay more to save time, while others are not and may be interested more in a kind of loyalty card that rewards them for always charging at the same place in front of their office. There is also the possibility of partnerships between public planners and private companies. Supermarkets, for example, are contributing to electric mobility through the presence of charging points in the parking lot. In this way customers, during the charging time of the battery, can do their shopping. Such a measure is having positive results, as there is a greater influx of customers in supermarkets that have offered this service.

However, in Italy there are not many recharging points, and this is a source of inconvenience for consumers, especially in infrastructures that are widely used by citizens such as motorways. Analyzing the data, however, we note that the presence of charging points is increasing (since September 2019 there has been a 33% growth that has doubled the growth of infrastructure). Hopefully, in the future more and more chargers will be installed, also paying attention to strategic parameters such as population density, number of users and the type of area. For example, in the Northern part of Italy there are more electric vehicles compared to the rest of the country. To have a more in-depth reference it is recommended to analyze the report performed by MOTUS-E in March 2020 in the pre-covid period[5]. The figure below shows the distribution of electric vehicle in Italy during the period considered.

Figure 1: The distribution of electric vehicle in Italy in the period between September 2019 and March 2020

(For further information, you can read the research made by MOTUS-E:à-elettrica-linfrastruttura-di-ricarica-in-Italia-2030-2.pdf).


The several Vehicle To Grid (V2G) projects developing right now in the world assess one of the most interesting opportunities that comes from the planned increase of EVs numbers in cities and the new possibilities offered by smart grids. The technology V2G allows the bidirectional exchange of energy between the vehicles and the electric grid, i.e., it would be possible to both charge the vehicle and discharge to sell energy to the grid. In this way the EVs will operate as electricity storage and help stabilize the electric grid, managing demand peaks and reducing the need of fossil energy. A Vehicle-To-Grid pilot project has been launched last year in Turin by FCA (now Stellantis), ENGIE Eps, and Terna. It consists in a parking lot with several V2G charging stations that will optimize the EVs operating costs for the consumers meanwhile helping stabilize the electrical grid (we recommend you an article written by Energy Cue).[3] [6]




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  4. Ala, Guido & Di Filippo, Gabriella & Viola, Fabio & Giglia, & Imburgia, Antonino & Romano, Pietro & Castiglia, V. & Pellitteri, Pellitteri & Schettino, Giuseppe & Miceli, Rosario. (2020). Different Scenarios of Electric Mobility: Current Situation and Possible Future Developments of Fuel Cell Vehicles in Italy. Sustainability. 12. 564. 10.3390/su12020564.