Change is good, but only if you embrace it. Utility executives across the US are now faced with the double duty of modernizing the nation’s century-old power grid and doing so amid the greatest incoming demand for energy the industry has ever seen. By 2035, more than 85 million electric vehicles (EVs) will hit the roads in the United States and Canada, requiring not just a major system-wide upgrade of the grid itself, but a building out, coordination and installation of critical charging infrastructure street by street, state by state and beyond.
As utility leaders consider this future, momentum and pressure is on all sides in the form of increasing collaboration between automakers, battery manufacturers, and both private and public sector initiatives driving change forward. On the heels of the EY EV Acceleration report that brought together insights from some key executive leaders of the e-mobility ecosystem, let’s take a closer look at what the pivotal role of utilities should be, and the other factors needed to speed change. What are, in short, the actionable steps that utility executives need to embrace in the road ahead?
Three major roadblocks are standing in the way of more rapid EV adoption. The first two, the real road readiness of EV vehicles and consumer concern over battery range are being addressed quickly by advancing technology and improved design, but utilities are holding the keys to a solution for the third. The ability to charge any form of EV quickly, easily and reliably – and in urban, rural and radically different landscapes – hinges solely on charge point operators (CPOs) being able to secure permission to install the critical infrastructure required and for grid operators being able to provide the tens of thousands of standardized, reliable connections across state lines and North America.
The whole premise of e-mobility stands on a modern, safe and resilient grid, supported by digital capabilities to mitigate the impact of EVs on every local network. In the evolution of transport, utilities and their power distribution networks are the lynchpins and need to begin, or fast track, open planning dialogs with all infrastructure players as well as other members of the e-mobility ecosystem. This will also require the alignment of utility leadership around a coordinated vision for the future as well as full acceptance of the pace and scale of investment now required.
Lessons learned from European EV adoption indicate North American power needs will reach 432.2TWhin2035, placing enormous demand on the already-outdated grid, causing congestion and ultimately bottlenecking the pace of e-mobility rollout. In Canada, EY analysis estimates that electricity demand for EV charging is expected to account for 2.4% of overall power demand in 2030, and in the US, electricity demand from EVs is expected to for 10% of overall US power demand. In the United States, $7.5b of government funding and incentives has been earmarked for grid upgrades and a further $3b in advanced battery supply chains to help effect 50% EV adoption and the installation of 500,000 charging stations by 2035. But that alone won’t be anywhere near enough, and utilities will be required to invest expertise, funds and resources to deliver real and effective momentum.
According to EY analysts, the United States will require a nine-fold increase in today’s volume of charging stations to meet coming demand as well as much greater access for all communities. At present, most EV charging takes place in homes, where vehicles tend to park for long durations and are charged slowly. Across the United States, 88% of EV owners have access to residential charging, but this varies significantly by region and property type. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), 70% of detached single-unit households have access to home charging but access plummets to 10% to 20% for rented apartments. By 2035, when 18% of the vehicle stock is expected to be electric, the majority of EV charging is still likely to be done at home, but demand will soon outpace access and utilities will need to expand access.
As the EV market races past early adopters – typically high-income, single-family homes with access to off-street parking – we will see demand for more diverse charging access everywhere. Rentals, apartment buildings, condos and increasingly destinations like malls, community centers, movie theaters and restaurants will all expect to be able to offer charging access – and consumers will expect, if not demand it. It’s up to utilities to plan for increased access and a true integration of charging stations into all communities, regardless of socioeconomic factors or even population density.
By Marc Coltelli, Andrew Horstead & Felipe Smolka
Read the full article at https://www.ey.com/en_us/emobility/as-emobility-accelerates-can-utilities-move-evs-into-the-fast-lane.