This Is How Much EV Charging The U.S. Will Need By 2030

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Right now in America, two things are true. One is that drivers do not have enough places to charge electric vehicles; the other is that the number of chargers is growing very quickly to address that problem. But how much does the U.S. really need, and by when? 

According to estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the number of plug-in electric cars in the U.S. might reach 33 million by 2030, which will require a fairly vast expansion of the charging infrastructure. The number of charging ports is expected reach 28 million units of various types—private and public, AC and DC—in the same time frame.

This data point comes to us from the NREL’s latest study, entitled “The 2030 National Charging Network: Estimating U.S. Light-Duty Demand for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure.” It points out that the vast majority of charging will be at home and work (AC). The public networks will be for opportunity charging and less common, longer trips (DC). There may be some exceptions, like for ride-share drivers in cities, but generally, the NREL’s data reiterates the fact that America needs both slower and faster public chargers.

The data highlighted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office, which indicates that some 92% of the charging ports (25.7 million out of an expected 28 million by 2030) will be private, 120V Level 1 and 240V Level 2 AC points.

Additionally, 2.1 million units (7.6%) are to be public and private AC Level 2 charging ports at multifamily homes, workplaces, stores, restaurants, and hotels.

For many of us, one interesting data point is that 33 million plug-in cars, including some 30 million all-electric ones, might be supported by less than 200,000 DC fast chargers. That’s because, unlike fuel pumps, they will be used only for a fraction of charging sessions; home charging is seen as the key to meeting most future charging needs. However, they are crucial to support long-distance travel. Furthermore, DC charging itself is expected to get faster and better.

“While most near-term fast charging demand is simulated as being met by 150-kW DC chargers, advances in battery technology are expected to stimulate demand for higher-power charging,” the study says. “We estimate that by 2030, DC chargers rated for at least 350 kW will be the most prevalent technology across the national fast-charging network.”

The plug-in car sales forecast and the assumption of 33 million plug-ins—90% all-electric and 10% plug-in hybrids—by 2030 is just one of the potential scenarios, just like the number of 28 million charging ports.

However, it gives us an idea and scale of what we are talking about in just the next six to seven years. That’s a monumental shift, considering that already some 15 years have passed since the first modern electric car models, powered by lithium-ion batteries, hit the market.

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