The Charge To Start The Transition To Transportation Electrification
Charging Up America: Assessing The Growing Need For U.S. Charging Infrastructure Through 2030
Gordon Bauer, Chih-Wei Hsu, Mike Nicholas, and Nic Lutsey, July 2021 (International Council of Clean Transportation [ICCT])
Electric vehicles surpassed 10 million cumulative sales globally in late 2020. Announcements from automakers and the U.S. government regarding manufacturing goals, new vehicle emission standards, incentives, and infrastructure investments suggest the U.S. electric vehicle market could expand dramatically in the years ahead. These developments spur broad questions about how much infrastructure is needed to support electric vehicle growth, and the associated costs.
This paper assesses growing home, workplace, and public charging needs through 2030 to support the transition to electric vehicles in the United States. The analysis incorporates local market trends, evolving charging technology and behavior, household characteristics, and home charging availability. It includes charging needs for lowerincome communities, rural areas, highway corridor charging, and ride-hailing vehicles. The charging analysis is also integrated with bottom-up charging costs to estimate the associated infrastructure investment required to support the electric transition.
Figure ES-1 summarizes the results for the number of non-home chargers needed (left) and associated cost (right) to support an electric vehicle stock of 26 million electric vehicles in the United States by 2030, up from 1.8 million at the end of 2020. This growth includes 5.9 million new electric vehicle sales in 2030, representing 36% of all new vehicle sales, putting the market on track to reach 100% electric vehicle sales by 2040. To support these vehicles, public and workplace charging will need to grow from approximately 216,000 chargers in 2020 to 2.4 million by 2030, including 1.3 million workplace, 900,000 public Level 2, and 180,000 direct current fast chargers. The associated costs amount to $28 billion from 2021 to 2030.
Our analysis leads us to four high-level findings.
Steady charging infrastructure additions are needed to support the transition to electric vehicles. To support electric vehicle growth through 2030, public and workplace chargers will need to increase 27% annually, which is less than the rate of charger growth between 2017 and 2020, but requires adding an average of over 200,000 chargers each year by 2026. This growing charging network would include 500,000 public chargers by around 2027, several years faster than the Biden administration’s goal for 2030.
Broad charging infrastructure investments will be needed to support an expanding electric vehicle market. The charging infrastructure network will need to provide greater coverage for a broader set of drivers by 2030. About a million chargers will be needed at multiunit dwellings to support apartment residents and charging will need to grow at greater rates in many rural areas and across the Midwest and South. Lower-income communities will need persistent investments, amounting to about 30% of chargers and charging investments through 2030, to ensure equitable infrastructure access.
Associated charging infrastructure costs are substantial but are in line with recent trends.
The associated 2021–2030 charging investments are $28 billion for public and workplace chargers, including $15 billion for charger installation labor. Direct current fast chargers are 7% of these chargers, provide 57% of the charging energy, and represent 66% of the costs, reinforcing the need to install inexpensive and convenient home and workplace charging. Near-term charging needs are being covered by public funding, utility investments, Volkswagen’s dieselgate settlement funds, and other private companies.
More sustained long-term funding is needed, especially where investments through 2020 have been limited. Such investments fit well within the infrastructure and climate goals, and they would represent just 1%-2% of the associated budgets in policymakers’ 2021 proposed infrastructure plans.
Charging infrastructure costs can be shared across many interested stakeholders. The diverse charging infrastructure needs present opportunities for coordination and broad cost sharing. Electric power utilities, private charging companies, automakers, and property owners each have roles in developing the charging infrastructure network. Charging investments can be spurred by public support from federal, state, and local governments via direct funding, cost-sharing, tax credits, regulations, and city codes. Further exploration into the ideal combination of new policies, standards, investments, and coordination across the players is warranted.
Although electric vehicle charging infrastructure costs are substantial, the benefits are also great. Charging infrastructure enables a fleet of electric vehicles that will themselves have lower upfront costs than conventional vehicles and will deliver thousands of dollars in fuel savings per vehicle by 2030. The benefits of the electric vehicle transition are at least an order of magnitude greater than charging infrastructure costs, making charging infrastructure a modest down payment to decarbonize the transport sector…