MANILA, Philippines - “It’s not gonna be easy to register this Tesla... because it er, does not have an engine number,” joked Meralco Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) at the unveiling of the Philippines’ first commercial prototype of an e-vehicle charging station, held in the Meralco Compound last week. The technical pilot aims to demonstrate that Meralco—the country’s leading electricity distribution utility—is now gearing up to support the incoming trend of e-vehicles in the local motoring industry.
“We want to be instrumental in building the complete ecosystem for the expected influx of electric vehicles in the country,” said Meralco SVP and Head of Consumer Retail Services and Corporate Communications, Alfredo Panlilio. “Meralco will assist in making the electric vehicle charging technology available to interested partner companies and priority sectors like public transport operators. Meralco will be ready when the market for eVehicles becomes ripe and stakeholders start adopting the technology,” Panlilio added.
The Meralco-designed charging equipment showcases a weatherproof design that includes a rust-proof body, fully-enclosed meter display and waterproof keypad facility. It also adopts a twist-lock charging connector system that is meant to help prevent accidental disconnection while charging. Furthermore, its core power supply will be flexible: power may be sourced either from an electric grid or renewable resources.
Solar and wind energy are among the alternative sources that Meralco is tapping to provide a clean and infinite supply for any electrical application. A prototype renewable charging facility connects to some of the eVehicle charging equipment, and consists of a 3kW Solar Power System, a 3kW Wind Power System and a 3kW Battery Storage facility.
The Meralco eVehicle Power Station is set to undergo three phases: an initial phase that allocates three bays for regular charging and one bay for renewable charging; a transition phase that explores more alternative sources and a final phase that will incorporate fast-charging technologies (developed locally and abroad) into the remaining four bays. Concurrently, the pilot station will be used to study the behavior patterns of consumers, and also help Meralco compute the actual cost to serve its different charging technologies, including the actual kilowatt-hour per kilometer computation, per type of electric vehicle.
Moreover, Meralco’s prototype equipment has the capacity to provide partial or “sachet” charging (to make it more affordable), apart from the traditional ‘full charging.’ When attached to the equipment, and once the vehicle’s battery is fully charged, the charging mechanism automatically stops and an LCD shows the total kWh consumed, along with the going rate per kWh and the equivalent peso amount.
A big issue with the concept of eVehicle charging, however, is the amount of time it would take to fairly charge a battery. Hence, for its fast-charging service, Meralco is looking to adopt the CHAdeMO protocol, which although is an abbreviation of “Charge de Move,” is really also a play on words for the Japanese phrase “O cha demo ikaga desu ka,” which means “How about some tea?” This is a clever reference to the short and pleasant amount of time it takes to have some afternoon tea—say, about 30 minutes—which is the same amount of time it would take for an efficient fast charge.
Thus, to formally launch and demonstrate the charging capabilities of the new Meralco eVehicle Power Station, a parade of eVehicles consisting of: an eTrike, eShuttle, Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV—a 5-door fully electric hatchback—and the hot new Tesla Model S—a full-size, electric luxury sedan that so far, champions the greatest range (up to 480km on a single charge) in the market—were lined-up for a charging exhibit at the prototype station. The Tesla S that was on display also happens to be the only Tesla car to touch Philippine soil yet; and is owned by MVP.
“Meralco aims to celebrate 2021—the quincentennial or 500th year of the discovery of the Philippine islands by the western world—as the year when all the technologies we are exploring today, and many more, will be fully operational and improving the lives of millions of our customers,” explained Meralco President and CEO, Oscar Reyes.
MVP has already in fact, set the mandate and direction for the company to make a bright and energy-smart future possible. “We will be ready if the market is there, and customers demand this service,” remarked Reyes. “I would therefore say, welcome to the future!” he merrily concluded.