Challenges for expanding the U.S. EV charging network
The U.S. infrastructure plan includes funding to build a nationwide EV charging system with at least 500,000 EV chargers installed across the U.S. by 2030. Because there’s never been a national strategy for rolling out EV charging, the current system is very fragmented, utilizing a variety of different payment platforms, charging outlets and charge speeds. Integrating existing EV infrastructure and successfully expanding at scale will be difficult and require private-public partnerships that include local municipalities, businesses and utility companies, as well as automakers and EV charging companies.
Another hurdle the Biden administration faces is strategic placements. One-third of charging stations are located in California, which has a total of 22,620 stations, according to a recent study by Pew Trust. Other states have very few, including North Dakota which has 36 public chargers, and Alaska with just 26. Charging infrastructure must be everywhere and accessible to everyone in order to eliminate range anxiety and enable widespread EV adoption.
In most areas, regardless of city or state, the electrical grids cannot support the vast deployment of fast and ultra-fast chargers, creating high barriers for EV penetration, in addition so overloading the grids. Fast charging multiple EVs at once requires a significant amount of local power. For example, charging 10 EVs in 10 minutes at the same time requires power infrastructure equivalent to powering a skyscraper (over 1 MW of power).
In order to enable the deployment of the required EV charging network, maintain the stability of local grids, and maximize the use of renewable sources such as solar and wind, we’ll need to deploy energy storage systems alongside EV charging stations. These solutions need to be able to shave the peaks when power is in high demand and boost existing grid infrastructure without costly and time consuming grid upgrades.
Local energy storage can support the expansion of the EV charging rollout
Energy storage supports existing grid capacity and enables cost-effective and rapid deployment of EV chargers, making it key to meeting the Biden administration’s EV charging goals. For example, Chakratec’s unique energy storage technology has the ability to boost a low-power grid (20 kW) up to 120 kWp in order to charge multiple EVs in parallel, and enable fast and ultra-fast charging in sites and locations where the local grids are not powerful enough.
Chakratec’s flywheel-based technology provides a practically unlimited number of charging cycles. It is also fire safe, enabling deployments at gas stations where fire is a top concern, and can be hooked up to EV chargers that integrate with renewable energy to further satisfy sustainability goals and promote clean air quality.
While there are many pathways to successfully rolling out fast EV charging, energy storage is considered a key enabling technology in the industry. Chakratec has already partnered with companies such as Blink Charging and ARKO to test and deploy accessible fast charging infrastructure throughout the U.S., and is looking forward to more deployments of its flywheel energy storage technology in the region.
The future of EV charging
As we look ahead to the inevitable deployment of a fast EV charging network across the U.S., it’s imperative that all solutions are on the table. It’s going to take more than just a bold vision. A uniform, strategic approach to building out the national network can help make EVs more appealing to consumers who fear “range anxiety.”
Thankfully, under the current plan, minimum charge speed requirements would be set by the Department of Transportation every two years based on the best available technology, ultimately leading to a future where drivers can charge their vehicles in the time it takes to fill up their gas tanks.
Policymakers have their work cut out for them to make this infrastructure plan a reality, but we look forward to the time when reliable, sustainable and cost-effective fast charging, backed by energy storage, is available across the U.S. and globally.