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The Promise of Resilient EV Charging

Find out how Enel X’s resilient microgrid service station in MA provides clean and resilient EV charging.

June 21, 2022


  • Resiliency in transport electrification is a key consideration in energy transition plans for businesses.
  • Enel X has recently completed a resilient service station in Massachusetts, demonstrating a working model for reducing emissions while ensuring resiliency at an EV charging station.
  • Enel X has experience navigating the challenges of unlocking financial and sustainability benefits for solar + storage + EV charging for customers, as seen from its UMass Boston and VTA partnerships.


Pilot: Resilient Service Station in MA

On May 9, 2022, Enel X announced the launch of a microgrid at Global Partners LP’s Alltown Fresh service station in Ayer, Massachusetts. The project was partially funded through InnovateMass’ Resilient Service Stations Challenge, which sought to ensure continuous power for service stations near evacuation routes across the state during emergencies. 


The microgrid will offer on-site generated power to Alltown Fresh Ayer by integrating solar panels on the canopy, a battery storage unit, and integration of a portable generator connection, all designed, built, operated, and financed by Enel X. To support electric vehicle (EV) drivers, Enel X also installed a universally compatible JuicePump 50kW, which can charge vehicles up to 80% battery capacity in 30 to 60 minutes.


The project served to prove the concept, demonstrating Enel X’s ability to develop, deliver on, and finance an integrated solar + storage + EV charging project, and do so at least-cost to the customer.


The Promise of Resilient EV Charging

27% of U.S. GHG emissions (2020) come from transportation, making transport electrification a significant step toward decarbonizing the economy. While many EV drivers are motivated by sustainability, their practical day-to-day need is the constant availability of energy for their vehicles. They may prefer to help the energy transition by seeking out green generation sources to charge their EV, but typical solar + storage systems cannot achieve full resiliency, and as a result even the most sustainability-motivated EV drivers cannot solely rely on solar + storage for always-available charging during grid emergencies.


Microgrids – a group of DERs with the ability to operate as an aggregated asset and to function in “islanded mode” – offer the promise of clean and resilient EV charging. By orchestrating multiple supply and demand resources and optimizing them as a single asset, microgrids can enable EV drivers to power their vehicles with clean energy, maximize self-consumption of solar, and reduce demand charges from the local utility. By disconnecting from the grid in cases of emergencies, microgrids can provide added energy resilience in power outage events and support the local grid by decreasing overall system load.

Customer charging EV with Enel X JuicePump at resilient service station

Valuing and Investing in Resiliency

Currently, the biggest challenge to widespread adoption of clean and resilient microgrids is financial. Yet while businesses may think the price tag is too high, this is typically because they do not fully account for the value of resiliency in their decision-making. 


Augmenting resiliency controls for a simple backup system can cost $50-200k, while adding a full-on microgrid can be upwards of a half a million dollars in additional islanding hardware and controls. But the additional costs can be justified if benefits of avoided outages outweigh the costs of added resiliency. 


To help businesses understand the costs of losing power (and, on the flip side, the value of resiliency), we can make a simple attempt at quantifying the costs of lost business. First, estimate costs associated with delays in the delivery of goods or transportation of personnel who are completing critical missions. Next, multiply that by the expected number and duration of outages each year (set to increase in both frequency and magnitude with climate change). By quantifying the costs, businesses can better understand the urgency of building up a resilient energy solution. 


Partner Expertise Can Improve Economics

The Alltown Fresh service station was able to make the project pencil out from a combination of incentives, market revenues, and savings: 

  • the InnovateMass grant;
  • federal, state, and local incentive programs (eg, federal S+S Investment Tax Credit, Massachusetts’ solar + storage SMART incentives, National Grid’s EV Made Ready incentives);
  • unlocking market access to earn revenues for added energy flexibility;
  • utility bill savings through demand charge management and energy arbitrage.


Whereas EV Made Ready incentives (grid upgrade incentives to support EV charging) can be found in most utilities, the InnovateMass funding and SMART incentives are only available on a case-by-case basis. Applying for and obtaining these incentives was made possible with Enel X’s extensive market experience and tight project management. 


Earning and maximizing market revenues for energy flexibility likewise requires extensive market expertise, in-house Network Operations Center experience and an established presence in the region. Enel X demonstrates all of these capabilities by managing the microgrid’s participation in Installed Capacity Tag (ICAP) mitigation, ISO-NE energy markets, demand response with local distribution utilities, and Clean Peak, as well as optimizing on-bill savings and performance through Demand Charge Management and backup power during grid outages. This variety of values streams maximizes the microgrid’s value to the business and system.


Employees view a large Tesla battery storage unit at a resilient service station in Massachusetts.


Scaling Solar + Storage + EV Charging: What Makes a Good Candidate?

Looking at the fundamentals, a resilient energy solution makes most sense in sub-industries where there is highly peaky demand and large energy consumption. We have seen significant EV and electrification demand from transit agencies, schools, and large commercial and industrial fleet operators like PepsiCo (more than 70,000 vehicles, according to Transport Dive) and FedEx (more than 200,000 vehicles). These businesses need energy resilience and peak-shaving at their depots and tractor-yards as they electrify at a massive scale.


The microgrid system architecture requested by these businesses is essentially a scale-up of the Resilient Service Station microgrid. They want resiliency solutions for EV charging and building loads using a solar + storage system, with additional controls to connect portable gensets that could support more extended grid outages.


Outside of these high-value sub-segments, such a solution can also make sense in instances where outages significantly affect a business’s bottom line. If an organization’s quantified losses from grid outages are high enough, those losses can justify the additional costs of resilient hardware and controls, whether that is a simple backup or a more complex microgrid. 


For example, the table below shows an illustrative pro forma associated with a solar + storage project for a packaging facility. Accounting for the resiliency benefits increases annual benefits (or avoided losses) from $310k to $856k a year; it can decrease the payback period for the combined system from 4.2 years to 1.7 years. Again, this is only an illustrative example – the specific costs and benefits will depend on how the businesses think about valuing resiliency.



Net CapEx (after incentives)

Avg Ann. Benefits (Savings + Revenue)



Solar + Storage
Solar + Storage + Simple Backup
Solar + Storage + Simple Backup + Quantified Resiliency Benefits


Bottom Line

Factoring the value of resiliency into a microgrid evaluation can seem like a daunting task. But companies will be better off if they proactively invest in resiliency to protect their businesses as energy uncertainty grows. Organizations now face the adverse impacts of climate change (such as more frequent and severe power outages), an aging grid, and the increasing penetration of intermittent energy resources.


If you are interested in integrating resilient energy solutions to your decarbonization goals, contact an Enel X representative to further discuss.


Solar panels on the canopy of a resilient service station in Massachusetts.