How Many EV Charging Stations to Cover the US? NREL Has an Answer

06 October 2017

A study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) quantifies how much charging infrastructure would be needed in the United States to support plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs).

“The potential number, capacity, and location of charging stations needed to enable broad PEV adoption over the coming decades hinge on a variety of variables,” said Eric Wood, lead author of the National Plug-In Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Analysis.

NREL analyzed PEV charging requirements within urban and rural communities and along interstate corridors. For each type of area considered, NREL examined the station coverage needed by early-market PEVs and the station capacity required to satisfy potentially high future demand for electric charging.

The results suggest that a "few hundred corridor fast-charging stations" could enable long-distance EV travel between U.S. cities. Although many of these early-market stations could be underutilized at first, NREL’s analysis of driving patterns and vehicle characteristics suggest how corridors could be prioritized and station spacing set to enhance station utility and economics.

Compared to interstate corridors, urban and rural communities are expected to have larger charging infrastructure needs. About 8,000 fast-charging stations would be needed to provide a minimum level of urban and rural coverage nationwide. In a PEV market with 15 million vehicles, the total number of non-residential charging outlets or “plugs” needed to meet urban and rural demand ranges from around 100,000 to more than 1.2 million.

Understanding what drives this large range in capacity is critical, NREL says. For example, whether consumers prefer long-range or short-range PEVs has a larger effect on plug needs than does the total number of PEVs on the road. The relative success of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) versus EVs also has an impact. So does the number of PHEVs that charge away from home.

“This study shows how important it is to understand consumer preferences and driving behaviors when planning charging networks,” said Chris Gearhart, director of NREL’s Transportation and Hydrogen Systems Center.

This work was funded by the Vehicle Technologies Office in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Most PEV charging occurs at home, but widespread PEV adoption would require the development of a national network of non-residential charging stations. Strategically installing these stations early would maximize their economic viability while enabling efficient network growth as the PEV market matures.

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Discussion – 1 comment

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Re: How Many EV Charging Stations to Cover the US? NREL Has an Answer
2017-Oct-07 10:58 AM

" whether consumers prefer short or long range pv's "

A. Consumers don't buy Fossil fuel ( gasoline / diesel ) powered based on how short or how long of a trip they will or may use the vehicle for.

Consumers don't buy one car for short trips and one car for long trips.

A typical consumer buys a car based on need, how that vehicle suits their needs.

If a consumer buys a large vehicle, this will typically have a 20 gallon gas tank. At an average of 15 miles per gallon, this equates to approximately a 300 mile range.

If a consumer buys a small vehicle, this will typically have a 10 gallon gas tank. At an average of 30 miles per gallon, this equates to approximately a 300 mile range.

If a person were to subscribe to this methodology, they would need two cars, a 20 k small car & a 40 k large car, it's not likely that the average consumer will spend 60k for two electric cars when they could spend 30k or less for one Fossil fuel car that would accomplish both high and low ranges.

Then there is the " fast charge " this currently equates to 20 minutes for 80% of full capacity. Most gasoline stations have capacity for 12 cars to refuel. Refueling a gasoline car takes approximately 5 minutes and most gasoline stations occupy 1/4 - 1/2 acre of land. In order to refuel 48 cars, then you would need a 2 acre parcel of land, unless this land is in a rural area, where there is a lower population density and less cars, this will be difficult to accomplish in an urban area where twice as many electric refueling stations would be required versus gasoline stations and there is less land available to satisfy the needs of a larger demand.

Then there is infrastructure costs, an average gasoline station fuel tanks have a life of 20 + years and a station costs (x) amount to build. What is unknown is how much an electric station will cost to build and how much it will cost to maintain and what it's lifespan will be.

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