TODAY’S STUDY: The Need For EV Charing Infrastructure
Investing in Charging Infrastructure for Plug-In Electric Vehicles; How to Accelerate Deployment
Lia Cattaneo, July 2018 (Center for American Progress)
Introduction and Summary
For more than 100 years the internal combustion engine (ICE) dominated vehicle design, bringing with it large increases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2015, the number of fossil fuel-propelled cars in the United States rose to 113 million,1 up from just 8,000 in 1990.2 Now, plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) provide a cleaner alternative that not only reduces GHG emissions, but also provides local air quality, noise reduction, and national security benefits. PEVs are an integral component in the suite of technologies that will help meet the United States’ commitments under the Paris Agreement—an ambitious 26 percent to 28 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2025, compared with 2005 levels.3
As with any major technological transformation, transitioning to an electrified transportation system will not be easy nor cheap. A century of public and private development led to the existing fleet of ICE vehicles, complemented by more than 100,000 gas stations,4 federally funded roads that connect communities,5 and a vast network of service stations and dealerships. With about 800,000 PEVs6 and 18,000 charging stations7 on the road now, the revolution is just beginning.
Tipping the balance of vehicles toward PEVs requires the funds to incentivize the widespread adoption of new vehicles and their charging infrastructure, along with the will to overhaul the existing system. State and federal policymakers need to find new and creative ways to put more PEVs on the road. Policy leaders across the country are spurring investment in charging infrastructure through the use of state financial incentives and funds available through the Volkswagen (VW) settlement, which requires VW to make payments to resolve the federal government’s allegations that the company cheated emissions standards.8
But current levels of investment are not enough. This report focuses on what states can do to ensure that adequate charging infrastructure is available. It first provides background on the number of PEVs needed to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector. It then discusses the charging infrastructure investment gap and provides policy recommendations to help close it.
The Center for American Progress estimated the number of vehicles and charging stations that the country will need to deploy by 2025 in order to meet its Paris Agreement targets, as well as the capital costs of installing the new public chargers needed. CAP found that:
• The United States needs to add 14 million new PEVs and more than 330,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2025.
• Many states are well on their way to having the public Level 2 and DC fast charging infrastructure needed by 2025, but the country needs significantly more to meet the Paris Agreement goal. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state are leading the way.
• Existing state and VW funds can provide only about 50 percent of the funding needed to deploy adequate public charging infrastructure through 2025. Additional public resources and private investment are necessary to close the remaining $2.3 billion gap.
As states spend VW settlement funds, they will need to find new funding sources to continue progress into the midcentury. States should work with their utilities and legislatures to advance new investment mechanisms, as well as apply for federal grants and join or create revenue-generating carbon pricing programs. Additional private investment is also necessary, as is the extension of federal tax credits for EV charging infrastructure—which expired at the end of the 2017 tax year.
Overview of PEVs and charging infrastructure technology
This content relies on language published in a previous CAP report on electric vehicles9 and is provided here for background.
“Electric vehicles” (EVs) is a broad category that can mean different things in different situations. To avoid confusion, this report generally avoids using the term “electric vehicle.” It focuses on the benefits of and policies related to the deployment of PEVs. PEVs can be charged in whole or in part by an off-board electric power source. This is distinct from hybrid electric vehicles, which supplement an ICE with battery power—often charged through regenerative braking—but cannot be plugged in.
PEVs are further divided into plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs). PHEVs typically run on electricity for shorter ranges—currently up to about 40 miles—then switch over to a gasoline-powered ICE when the battery is depleted. BEVs run only on electricity; they typically travel up to 100 miles on a single charge, and high-end models can reach up to 250 miles.10
PEVs can be connected to the electricity grid and recharged through charging infrastructure—sometimes referred to as EV supply equipment. The types or levels of charging infrastructure are commonly defined as Level 1, Level 2, and direct current (DC) fast chargers. As battery technology improves, vehicles will be able to go farther on a single charge. This report focuses on public Level 2 chargers and DC fast chargers…
Cutting GHG emissions from the transportation sector
In its 2015 submission to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in accordance with the Paris Agreement, the United States committed to reducing GHG emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.11 In 2005, the transportation sector was responsible for 27 percent of all U.S. GHG emissions, a figure that rose to 28.5 percent in 201612—the first year that transportation surpassed electricity to become the largest source of U.S. GHG emissions.13 Light-duty vehicles (LDVs) have consistently made up about 60 percent of the transportation sector’s emissions.14 EVs can help the United States reduce LDV emissions and move the country closer to its climate goals. Reducing LDV emissions by 16 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 would meet an ambitious national goal of a 26 percent reduction in the LDV sector—factoring in the approximately 10 percent reduction from the 2005 baseline that LDVs already achieved.15CAP converted this reduction from a percentage to the specific number of vehicles and chargers needed to meet U.S. emissions goals.
Vehicles…Charging Infrastructure…The charging infrastructure investment gap…State-level financial incentives and investments…VW settlement…Considering other infrastructure…
Existing state incentives and funds from the VW settlement can only provide about half of the United States’ public charging infrastructure needs through 2025. According to CAP’s analysis, states need additional public resources and private investment to close the remaining gap of $2.3 billion. This funding should come from a combination of increased federal, state, and local ambition, as well as the private sector. Increase state ambition
The easiest way states can fund charging infrastructure is to fully utilize the funds available to them through the VW Mitigation Trust. Combined with planned allocations in final and draft plans, the total cost of necessary investments could be reduced by $322 million if all states in the predraft phase of their mitigation plans commit all funds available.
Yet, as states spend the VW settlement funds, they need to establish an alternative funding source to continue progress into the midcentury. Even after taking into consideration VW funds and state-level financial incentives, there is still a $2.3 billion gap by 2025. After 2027—the end of the Electrify America investment cycles and the expiration of Mitigation Trust funds—the country will need to find a new way to fund investments in charging infrastructure deployment…
States could do the following to increase funding for charging infrastructure…Work with state legislatures to provide financial incentives for charging infrastructure…Work with utilities to provide financial incentives for and to invest in charging infrastructure…Join or start a carbon pricing program that generates revenue that could be used for charging infrastructure…Direct state departments of transportation to consider ways to incorporate charging infrastructure into their investment plans…Apply for federal grants for charging infrastructure…
Leverage private investments…The private sector must be an integral partner in order to deploy the EV charging infrastructure needed to meet the United States’ carbon goals…
Extend federal tax credits…Extending the federal tax credits for PEV charging infrastructure is a key way to reduce the public Level 2 and DC fast charging infrastructure funding gap…
Reducing emissions from the United States’ transportation sector will require a multibillion-dollar investment in a new, electrified system. Not accounting for operations and maintenance, the investments needed to simply build out the public Level 2 and DC fast charging infrastructure portion of the system are large but manageable. Many states are making clear progress toward having the infrastructure they will need in the near future, and current state incentives and funds available from the VW settlement can provide half of the funds needed by 2025. With increased commitment from governments and the private sector, finding the additional 50 percent—$2.3 billion—is an attainable goal…