US needs rapid expansion of EV infrastructure to keep up with rising demand, data says

Clean Energy
Posted at 2:15 PM, Jan 09, 2023

Sales of fully electric vehicles have grown considerably in recent years, going from about 100,000 in 2017 to about 500,000 in 2021, according to federal data.

This explosive growth, however, could cause a shortage of electric vehicle charging stations.

The federal government says there are nearly 145,000 EV ports at 54,000 charging locations across the U.S. That number, however, will need to grow considerably in the coming years to keep up with the climbing demand.

According to data released Monday by S&P Global Mobility, the number of EV chargers will need to quadruple by the end of 2025 and increase eightfold by 2030.

S&P Global Mobility estimates that .7% of vehicles in operation are electric. The organization expects the current number of 1.9 million electric vehicles in operation will go up 15-fold by 2030.

Stephanie Brinley, associate director of AutoIntelligence with S&P Global Mobility, noted that it took decades for the U.S. to build enough gas stations to support internal combustion engines. She noted one key difference between gas and electric vehicles is that electric vehicles can be charged at home.

Most electric vehicles can go several hundred miles on a single charge, meaning many drivers won’t need public charging stations regularly.

“Right now today, you have a perfectly reliable infrastructure and gas station,” Brinley said. “You’re asking consumers to change, and in some cases, that is more difficult and in terms of some locations, it will be a while. You’re more likely to see charging increase in urban and non-rural areas and suburban areas where EV rates are higher.”

While automakers aren't building gas stations, they are assembling EV infrastructure. For instance, General Motors announced last year it would partner with destinations to build 40,000 EV charging stations in underserved communities. But Brinley noted that there need to be incentives for more businesses to install charging stations.

President Joe Biden announced in September plans to support the building of 500,000 EV charging stations along 53,000 miles of interstate throughout the U.S. Thirty-five states accepted federal grant money for the project.

Brinley noted that the federal government’s role was not to build gas stations. But she said if the policy gets people to drive more EVs, the federal government can play a larger role in supporting the building of charging stations. In addition to funding EV stations, the federal government is offering $7,500 credits to those who purchase electric vehicles.

“Ultimately, it is not up to the government to manage the charging infrastructure,” she said. “It is not up to the government to deliver it. What they’ve done is a scenario where they provide funding and there are specific rules that charges have to meet to receive that federal funding.”

While there are concerns that electric vehicles can overwhelm the power grid, automakers have combatted this by making vehicles that can return energy to the power grid. By doing so, experts say this can help keep the power grid balanced during spikes in usage caused by weather.

“The bigger problem than overall power is balancing the power for when people are needing it and using it,” Brinley said. “That’s going to take some time to evolve but that is one of the things that is helpful in this scenario because when your car is just sitting in the car, it’s an electric storing system. There is energy just sitting there.”