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Energy Currents
A Blog by Enerdynamics

Are Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Stations a Utility Growth Opportunity?

by Bob Shively, Enerdynamics President and Lead Facilitator

The number of electric vehicles in the world, which include both battery-only EVs as well as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), has grown from 380,000 in 2013 to over 3 million in 2017.

growth of electric vehicles

Source: International Energy Agency 

But even with growth, EVs and PHEVs make up a small percentage of the overall vehicle stock everywhere but in Norway.Electric vehicle global market share

Source: International Energy Agency

Utilities in developed economies have seen flat load growth in recent years, and are looking to electric vehicle charging as a source of new load. The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that the number of electric vehicles could exceed 120 million by 2030 (about 15% of the world fleet) given current governmental policies already in place. But with more aggressive policies, the IEA believes the market share could exceed 30%. 

For consumers to adopt electric vehicles more quickly, one key issue that must be addressed is the speed at which vehicles can be charged. Most owners are not happy with waiting hours to recharge a vehicle with an empty battery. Numbers suggest that most cars are currently charged at home with slow chargers:

electric vehicle charging methods by year

Source: International Energy Agency

As noted by IEA, fast chargers are especially important in densely populated cities and are also essential to increase the appeal of EVs by enabling long distance travel. This then creates an opportunity for utilities to become developers of networks of publicly available fast charger stations.

Are fast-charging networks the future?

Charging stations are classified as Level 1, Level 2, or Fast Charge. As you can see, fast charge stations allow a car to be ready and back on the road in about 20 minutes, whereas slow charging stations take hours:

The German energy company, innogy, is currently building out a line of charging stations ranging from slow to fast:

innogy EV charging station diagram

Source: innogy, E-mobility at a tipping point

Initially focused on European markets, innogy is entering the California marketplace this year with plans to roll out products in China in 2020. Each of the large California utilities, including LADWP, PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, and SMUD are rolling out EV network programs as well. 

So it appears that the demand for charging stations will grow. In a later blog, we will explore what this might mean for utility load growth. 

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utility business , Electric Vehicles , EVs , EV Charging ,