By Robert MacDonald, Smarter Grid Solutions
As individual states across the U.S. work towards increasingly ambitious net zero emissions targets, the logistics of how these targets can be achieved and where investment should be made is at the forefront of decision-makers’ minds. To date, considerable efforts have been made to look at solutions that implement more renewables and clean energy into a modern and sustainable electricity system – and electric vehicles (EVs) have an important role to play.
EV adoption has been accelerating in the United States – by 2030 an estimated 18.7 million EVs will be on U.S. roads, up from 2 million in 2020. An increasing portion of EVs will be composed of full battery electric vehicles (BEVs), leading to significant increases in electricity consumption – estimated to grow from 6 to 53 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year by 2030. At the same time, EV charging infrastructure remains limited, with an estimated 9.6 million EV charging stations needed to meet the growing demand.
The slow rollout of EV charging infrastructure can be attributed to a combination of investment certainty, finance and incentives but also physical system limits around today’s grid infrastructure and a lack of interoperable technologies to understand and manage charging. Today’s electrical grid has limited capacity to supply significant new EV charging demand without requiring extensive equipment upgrades, such as power transformers and circuits.
Paradoxically, existing grid infrastructure experiences overall low utilization rates, or load factor, from EV charging due to short-duration, high-demand usage patterns. For EV supply equipment (EVSE) developers, EV consumers, and utility customers the potential over-build and underutilization of grid assets can result in high costs that prevent or delay expansion of charging infrastructure.
Managed EV charging could address both these issues.
Three essential elements are needed to allow the rapid build-out of EV charging infrastructure:
Connectivity to EV chargers: