December 29, 2021

3 National Energy Infrastructure Challenges Facing Widespread Electric Vehicle Adoption

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Multiple efforts in Washington, D.C. and in states around the country are underway pushing for infrastructure enhancements that will support a widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

EVs are quickly growing in popularity in many parts of the U.S.. Sales of EVs more than doubled in the first half of 2021 compared to the prior year, far outpacing the growth in traditional, gas-fueled vehicles.

The Biden Administration is seeking ways to facilitate the continued adoption of EVs among both consumers and businesses as part of its push to increase the role of alternative energy sources in the U.S., reduce emissions, and curb climate change.

On the federal level, there are currently two pieces of legislation that have the potential to impact the future of EVs in the U.S. First is the bipartisan infrastructure bill which President Biden will sign into law the week of November 15th. This bill provides $7.5 billion in funding to expand electric vehicle charging stations to underserved areas. The second is a Democrat-only spending bill which could increase tax credits for personal and commercial EV purchases and potentially include billions of dollars in additional funding for electric vehicles. Various efforts in states across the U.S. are also underway to facilitate the expansion of EVs.

As the federal and state governments across the U.S. push for continued adoption of EVs, there are a few hurdles standing in the way that must be addressed. Here are three things that need to happen before EVs can become the vehicle of choice for tens of millions of Americans across the country:

  1. Energy grid enhancements

 Switching to a heavier reliance on electricity will require a modernization of the grid in many areas of the country by building more transmission lines that can accommodate surges in electricity use during certain times of the day. For example, the energy grid must be able to support a late afternoon surge where millions of residents may seek to charge their cars at the same time after work, especially during summer months when the use of air conditioning will also be peaking. Resiliency enhancements are also essential and needed to support EVs. Operators will need to ensure their local grids are built to withstand the pressures that expanded EV ownership will present to local electric distribution companies.

  1. Collaborative approach to building charging stations

 One of the largest hurdles to the adoption of EVs among consumers is "range anxiety" - the fear of running out of power without being able to make it to a charging station to recharge. As of today, the limited number of charging stations, especially in less populated areas, make it more difficult for EV drivers to make certain trips. Creating and distributing charging stations in all areas across the country will be essential to convincing consumers to overcome their range anxiety. Doing so will require a collaborative approach between state governments, local municipalities, transportation planning organizations and electric distribution companies. Recently, the Governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin signed an agreement to collaborate in an effort to equitably distribute a network of EV charging stations across their states. Collaborative efforts like these will be essential to getting charging stations where they need to be as EV adoption becomes more widespread.

  1. Creating universal charging stations

 Not only does the U.S. need more charging stations in more locations across the country, we need them to universally accommodate electric vehicles of all makes and models. As of today, certain EV brands have their own charging plug or station that only works on their own vehicles. As the number of EV manufacturers increase and new models emerge on the market, policy makers must ensure that universal plugs that charge all makes and models  of EVs are widely accessible and available. This will also be crucial in alleviating range anxiety among consumers and businesses.

The Push for EVs Will Continue

Despite these hurdles, the Biden Administration will make the advancement of EVs in the U.S. a priority for years to come. The bipartisan infrastructure bill recently signed into law will be a significant step forward in these efforts. As these proposals continue, we expect EV infrastructure spending, tax credits, and incentives to remain a topic of conversation throughout the next several years.

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