For electric vehicles (EVs) to hit the mainstream and make a meaningful contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they’ll need a robust public charging infrastructure that lets drivers go where they take gasoline-powered cars now. Our recent work for Washington state identified some promising ways to get the private sector to fund more of that infrastructure in the near term, and fund all of it eventually.
The C2ES study was commissioned by the Washington State Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee and guided by an advisory panel of state legislators, EV experts, and other stakeholders. The findings, which could be implemented in the state through a bipartisan House bill, demonstrate that, with continued public support and accelerated EV market growth in the near term, the private sector could predominantly fund commercial charging stations in about five years.
A frequent question about funding infrastructure for EVs is, “Why not just follow the gas station model?” Under that model, an investor would pay to install and operate equipment and make a profit by selling the electricity to charge an EV.
Putting aside the fact that gas stations make most of their money at the convenience store or repair shop and not at the pump, this business model doesn’t work for EV charging for three reasons. First, the cost of owning and installing EV charging equipment is high. Second, the market for EVs is small in most places and the demand for charging is uncertain. And third, EV drivers are not willing to pay a high price
EV Charging Financial Analysis Tool
The EV Charging Financial Analysis Tool was developed for this project by C2ES and the Cadmus Group to evaluate the financial viability of EV charging infrastructure investments involving multiple private and public sector partners.
It uses the discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis method to determine the expected financial returns for EV charging infrastructure investments over the expected lifetime of the charging equipment based on inputs provided by the user.
The tool also provides financial viability metrics from the perspective of both private and public sectors as well as sensitivity analyses for key inputs and assumptions.
In the past six months, the price of gasoline in the United States has declined precipitously - from its June peak of $3.63 per gallon to less than $2 in some parts of the country now.
The effect this sharp price decline will ultimately have on greenhouse gas emissions is not yet known, but a reasonable estimate is that emissions will rise as less efficient cars and trucks become popular for the first time in years. Luckily for the climate, stronger federal fuel economy standards will mean that emissions from the transportation sector won’t rise nearly as much as they would have.
Using travel data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), monthly vehicle sales data, and fuel economy calculations by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoetle of the University of Michigan, we calculate that vehicles purchased in last five months will emit 7.8 million more metric tons of greenhouse gases than if car-buying habits before the gas price drop had continued. An average car emits about 43 metric tons of greenhouse gases over its useful life, so the additional emissions are about the same as putting 180,000 new cars and light trucks on the road.
The sudden plunge in gas prices can make it tempting to forget the lessons of the past.
Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) were up 25 percent last year, and automakers are looking to boost sales further in 2015 with new and updated models. Clearly, EVs have moved beyond their infancy. But continued growth in the EV market will require smart public and private strategies to expand charging infrastructure so motorists don’t have to worry about running out of juice.
Advancing the deployment of low-carbon vehicle technology, like EVs, is essential if we’re going to achieve meaningful emissions reductions from the transportation sector, which is responsible for 28 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases. Globally, the problem is more acute as the number of light-duty vehicles on the road is expected to double to more than 2 billion by 2050.
Automakers will begin introducing their second generation EVs beginning this month with the 2016 Chevy Volt. While sales will likely jump because of the incremental improvements from the first generation Volt, more time is likely needed for batteries to improve and charging infrastructure to be deployed.
Our work for the Washington State Legislature shows that new business models to foster private investment in charging infrastructure will be vital, but public sector policies and incentives will still be needed in the near term to keep the market growing.
The Role of Clean Energy Banks in Increasing Private Investment in Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
C2ES is participating in a series of webinars on the plug-in electric vehicle market and the progress of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Clean Cities Electric Vehicle Community Readiness grant recipients. A new webinar, hosted by DOE with input from Argonne National Laboratory, will be presented each quarter with market updates, technology and policy highlights, and spotlights on the activities of select grant recipients. These activities promote electric vehicle readiness in each of these communities by fostering public-private partnerships to deploy electric vehicles and to increase public access to charging stations.
The list below will be updated for each new webinar. Check back here regularly for new presentations.
More about Clean Cities Electric Vehicle Community Readiness Grants:
C2ES and its partners have published papers and created tools to help stakeholders enable a national PEV market.
EV-Grid Integration Workshop
|Representatives from state agencies, the electricity and charging industries, and non-profit organizations gathered for an in-person workshop held in Boston on February 20, 2014. The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the key issues around integrating PEVs with the electrical grid. The workshop was organized by the NESCAUM, with help from C2ES, ICCT, NRDC, and UC Davis. These five groups jointly produced a summary report that summarizes the recommendations and proceedings from the workshop.|
Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness
|The C2ES 2014 report, "A Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects," summarizes the lessons learned from 16 government, educational and nonprofit groups that received $8.5 million in U.S. Department of Energy grants to advance the deployment of electric vehicles.|
PEV Action Tool
|C2ES created the PEV Action Tool in 2013 to help state transportation departments understand their role in facilitating electric vehicle deployment. Learn more about the project here, including two in-person workshops C2ES conducted.|
PEV Action Plan
Read the PEV Dialogue Group's 2012 Action Plan on integrating electric vehicles with the U.S. electrical grid.
|C2ES wrote a comprehensive literature review on electric vehicles in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States for the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). Funded through a U.S. Department of Energy grant, the literature review is a comprehensive look at the opportunities and challenges for electric vehicles in these states relying on the latest research and market data.|
Read our 2011 literature review on electric vehicles with a focus on issues and solutions related to vehicle deployment and integration with the U.S. electrical grid.
Read our 2011 white paper on the state of play in the electric vehicle market.
My ride for the weekend: BMW’s first mass-produced all-electric vehicle.
Washington, D.C., is well-situated for day trips with mountains, forests, beach and bay all a short drive away. On a recent weekend, I was lucky enough to tool around in style. BMW lent me their new electric car – the i3 – and asked that I race it around the DC metro region. (Or perhaps that’s just how I heard them.)
The car handles beautifully the way you’d expect a BMW to, and proves there’s no performance tradeoff by going with an electric vehicle (EV). For most drivers, EVs like the i3 can accommodate daily driving needs. The average American only travels 30 miles per day. In particular, EVs are well suited for commuting because a driver can charge at home or the workplace. But day-tripping with an EV can take more planning and I learned firsthand that a robust public charging network is essential if EVs are to make more headway in the marketplace.
At C2ES, we often cite the importance of public charging stations to extend the range of EVs and give drivers confidence that an EV is a practical replacement for their conventional car. To allow EV drivers to travel as they would with a gasoline car, quick charging stations are needed along major roadways. Multiple, slower charging stations (referred to as Level 2) should be at key destinations to provide redundancy in case stations are in use or down for maintenance. Those are some of the conclusions of our new paper assessing the public charging infrastructure in Washington state and the same can be said of Washington, D.C.