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Pace of EV charger installation must nearly triple to meet Biden goal

04 January 2022 Amena Saiyid

Nearly three times more electric vehicle (EV) chargers need to be installed each quarter along highway corridors or in publicly accessible spots to meet US President Joe Biden's goal of having 500,000 charging ports in place by 2030, a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report found.

Released 28 December, the report assessing the state of EV infrastructure across the US in the second quarter of 2021 said an average of 5,322 public EV ports had been installed in each quarter since 2020. But NREL researchers say approximately 14,706 new public installations will be required each quarter for the next nine years to meet the Biden administration's 2030 target.

When comparing the current rate of deployment, "it is clear that the pace of installations will need to significantly increase," NREL researchers Abby Brown, Johanna Levene, Alexis Schayowitz, and Emily Klotz wrote.

However, the US can meet Biden's 2030 charger goal much earlier than expected to coincide with surging demand, Mark Boyadjis, IHS Markit global automotive technology lead, told Net-Zero Business Daily 3 January. IHS Markit projects there will be 9.3 million EVs on US roads by 2026, up from 1.5 million EVs in 2020, he said.

In fact, IHS Markit's automotive team projects an additional 600,000 charging units will be needed in public spaces and workplaces by 2026 to meet EV demand.

According to NREL, the number of public EV ports in the US increased by 5,006 in Q2, bringing the total to 105,765 and representing a 5.0% increase since the first quarter of 2021.

NREL analyzed the pace of EV charging port installation based on data collected in its Station Locator database from public and private nonresidential alternative fueling stations in the US and Canada, where it also currently tracks ethanol (E85), biodiesel, compressed natural gas, hydrogen, liquefied natural gas, and propane stations.

Among the various types of public EV charging ports, NREL said Level 2, 240-volt ports have the largest share of the overall pie, though Q2 saw the fastest rate of installation for DC fast ports with a 450 or more volt charging capacity. Level 2 ports can add 10 to 24 miles range to an average EV battery over an hour, while DC fast charge ports can add 60 to 80 miles or more of traveling range in as little as 20 minutes.

More DC fast chargers needed

"Building out the country's network of public DC fast chargers will be critical to supporting EV adoption in the US," the report said, noting that such chargers have a typical power output of 50 kW, though higher levels of power output are increasingly becoming more available.

However, DC fast chargers are more expensive (about $100,000 or more depending on the wattage being installed) than Level 2 chargers (about $30,000) to install. That is because Level 2 chargers operate on AC power that can be taken directly from the grid, whereas DC fast chargers have higher technical requirements and need added infrastructure in the form of transformers to convert the alternating current, Boyadjis explained.

In its 15 November note, IHS Markit analysts said the recently enacted, bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes $7.5 billion primarily for EV chargers and supporting infrastructure, will fund the construction, maintenance, and operation of an estimated 400,000 newly installed Level 2 and DC fast chargers between 2022 and 2026.

"The Biden administration's investment isn't hyperbole and will have a significant impact on US electric vehicle charging supply," said Boyadjis. "However, even an investment at this scale will come up short against the rapid growth of electric cars hitting the road soon, pointing to a need for additional support."

Filling the gap

That gap, Boyadjis said, will have to be filled by funding from states, utilities, municipalities, and other private pools of money.

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), a trade group representing power utilities, estimates more than 100,000 EV fast charging ports will be needed to meet the projected 22 million EVs that it says will ply US roads in 2030.

EEI is helping to spearhead the charging effort from the utility sector. EEI announced 7 December that the Electric Highway Coalition has joined forces with the Midwest Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Collaboration to form the National Electric Highway Coalition.

Comprised of 51 investor-owned electric companies, one electric cooperative, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, the coalition's goal is to provide EV charging ports along major US transportation corridors by the end of 2023.

During a recent online discussion on the status of EV infrastructure in the US, Colleen Jansen, chief marketing officer for California-based ChargePoint, a leading EV charging network, said charging will have to be integrated to where people spend the most time.

That means going beyond publicly accessible corridors such as highways to installing charging ports in multi-dwelling units and homes as well as places of work. "Charging will have to be integrated to where people spend [most of their] time," she added.

Overall, the report found that California-based ChargePoint showed the most growth in public charged ports (42.4%) in Q2, but most of their chargers were of the Level 2 variety. Among DC fast chargers, Tesla Supercharger maintained its dominance with a 56.8% market share, followed by Electrify America at 14.7%, and EVgo with 8.1%. ChargePoint was in fourth place with 7.8% of total DC fast charging ports.

At the end of July 2021, ChargePoint had more than 118,000 publicly available chargers globally, including more than 3,700 DC fast charging ports. Of this total, 45,000 were located in Europe. Based on its 31 October earnings report, ChargePoint's network of publicly available chargers has expanded to 163,000.

ChargePoint is "working actively" with the federal government and states to use the $5 billion in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to "accelerate the buildout of EV charging infrastructure," Anne Smart, ChargePoint vice president for public policy, told Net-Zero Business Daily in a 4 January email.

"As more and more Americans embrace electric mobility, private industry is actively building charging infrastructure across the nation—and that is not going to change," she added.

Posted 04 January 2022 by Amena Saiyid, Senior Climate and Energy Research Analyst

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