Around the world, the race is on to replace our fossil-fueled vehicles with electric ones. The adoption rate of electric vehicles (EVs) is predicted to climb extremely rapidly. This predicted rapid adoption of electric EVs will require a significant change in the number of charging stations available compared to the numbers deployed today. In this article, we investigate how the increase in EV adoption will place demands on the power distribution infrastructure and some of the considerations that must be taken into account when planning the EV charging infrastructure.
EV Growth Projections
Articles about EVs usually start with impressive statistics about growth rates, and it’s tempting to talk about projected EV sales. A figure from the organization Energy Innovation predicts that the global stock of electric passenger vehicles will be around 250 million by 2030 (Figure 1), with sales at about 44 million per year at that point. This is in the EV30@30 scenario, where 30 percent of all EVs (except two-wheelers) have a 30 percent global market share by 2030. The figure includes cars, buses, and trucks in hybrid and full electric versions. So, temptation not resisted—but there has to be a reality check: What are the error bars on this growth trajectory, and what are the assumptions and identified risks? Drill deeper, and some of the data on growth from different sources shows big variances. The sales figure quoted has embedded assumptions about changes in EV affordability, future technology improvements, oil prices, regulatory incentives and “dozens” more. It’s also highly dependent on the uptake in China, which was 45 percent of the market in 2018 compared with 24 percent for Europe and 22 percent for the US. Another figure from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) Annual Energy Outlook 2020 shows total battery vehicle sales of much less than one million vehicles in the year 2030 in the US—less than a tenth of the IEA prediction if the geographical percentage split stays the same. It predicts that gasoline-fueled vehicles will still dominate sales to 2050 and beyond. So, take your pick.