Forecasting U.S. EV Charging Infrastructure Needs by 2030

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Forecasting U.S. EV Charging Infrastructure Needs by 2030

Currently in the U.S., electric vehicle (EV) drivers face a shortage of charging stations, yet the infrastructure is rapidly expanding to meet this demand. The big question is, how many charging stations does the country really need, and by what deadline?

Research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) suggests that by 2030, the U.S. could see up to 33 million plug-in electric vehicles on the roads. To support this fleet, around 28 million charging ports, including both private and public ones as well as alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) options, will be necessary.

This insight is derived from NREL’s recent report titled “The 2030 National Charging Network: Estimating U.S. Light-Duty Demand for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure.” The study emphasizes that the bulk of charging will happen at home or work, utilizing AC chargers. Public charging stations, especially those offering DC fast charging, will mainly serve drivers needing a quick charge or those on longer journeys. While there might be exceptions like city-based ride-share drivers, the NREL highlights a clear need for America to expand its charging infrastructure with a mix of both AC and DC chargers.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office reveals that a significant majority, about 92% or approximately 25.7 million of the anticipated 28 million charging stations by 2030, will be private Level 1 and Level 2 AC chargers, operating at 120V and 240V respectively.

Moreover, it’s projected that 2.1 million charging stations, accounting for 7.6%, will be AC Level 2 chargers. These will be accessible not only publicly but also in private settings such as multifamily residences, workplaces, and various commercial locations like stores, restaurants, and hotels.

A noteworthy point for many is the expectation that 33 million plug-in vehicles, with a majority being all-electric, could be adequately served by fewer than 200,000 DC fast chargers. This is due to the anticipation that most charging will occur at home, with DC fast chargers primarily supporting long-distance travel needs. Despite their smaller number, these chargers are vital for enabling travel across longer distances and are set to become faster and more efficient.

The study further anticipates that, although most immediate demand for fast charging will be met by chargers capable of 150 kW, advancements in battery technology will likely increase the need for even more powerful chargers. By 2030, it is expected that DC chargers with at least 350 kW capacity will dominate the fast-charging landscape, reflecting significant progress in charging technology to accommodate evolving battery capabilities.

The projection that by 2030 there will be 33 million plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads, with 90% being all-electric and the remainder plug-in hybrids, is just one scenario among many. Similarly, the estimated need for 28 million charging ports offers a glimpse into the near future, a mere six to seven years away. This forecast signifies a major transformation, especially when we consider that it’s been only about 15 years since the introduction of the first modern electric cars equipped with lithium-ion batteries. This period has witnessed the beginning of a significant shift towards electrification, marking a pivotal moment in automotive history.

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