Electric vehicle charging infrastructure is needed to meet growing demand.
by John DeBoer, Head of Siemens eMobility and Future Grid Business Unit
DeBoer leads the North American eMobility and Future Grid business for
Siemens and is a member of the global eMobility management team.
energy landscape is shifting with the rise of renewables and
decentralized energy, shaping a new energy era that is changing the way
we think about electrification. The overall trend is toward
decarbonization—driven by regulation as well as by public opinion and
In order to meet ambitious emission reduction goals,
solutions will need to be pursued beyond changes in the power generation
mix and at the utility level. For example, electrifying the
transportation sector can significantly impact greenhouse gas emissions.
The transportation sector makes up 35 percent of total U.S.
Fortunately, many of the technologies
that will help reduce CO2 already exist and are deployed across the
country. The difficulty lies in how, when, and where these technologies
are put into use and what infrastructure will be needed to support them.
Electric Mobility Momentum
vehicle (EV) growth continues at a rapid pace and is now joined by the
electrification of almost every mode of transportation—cars and buses,
truck fleets, and even bicycles. In fact, according to the International
Energy Agency, “In 2018, the global electric car fleet exceeded 5.1
million, up 2 million from the previous year and almost doubling the
number of new electric car sales.” Looking ahead, McKinsey estimates
that EVs, which currently make up less than 1 percent of the global
fleet, could reach 20 percent by 2030 for cars and 12 percent for
commercial vehicles. In addition, there are now more than 200 cities in
the United States that are implementing the electrification of buses and
While it’s certainly an exciting time for the EV
market, the simple fact is that the U.S. charging infrastructure is
falling behind in terms of supporting such growth. The increasing number
of EVs poses new challenges for distribution grid operators, fleets,
gas stations, and other charging infrastructure operators.
International Council on Clean Transportation recently reported that the
expected EV growth will require an investment of more than $2.2 billion
in charging infrastructure across the United States’ 100 most populous
metropolitan areas by 2025. The report notes that “Charging
infrastructure deployment will have to grow at about 20 percent per year
to meet the 2025 targets.”
Which came first—the vehicles or the charging stations?
This was once a popular industry version of the chicken or the egg
argument, but it’s now an obsolete and futile dispute. For consumers,
the lack of charging infrastructure and the associated concern of
running out of charge on the road are some of the main reasons for not
purchasing EVs. Others include the lack of availability of the chargers.
demand for electric transportation can grow only as fast as the
charging infrastructure enables it to. To address the charging
challenge, and create an EV- ready environment, public and private
sectors must collaborate at the local level and tear down barriers so
that utilities can work directly with cities and extend some of the grid
value back to the transit authority.
Where there’s local investment, there’s local reward.
Electrified Transportation Ecosystem
According to Deloitte,
“Cities may not be able to achieve their [smart city] goals without
collaborating with their utilities”—and that goes for deploying
electrified transportation initiatives as well. It’s important to build
the right partnerships to collaborate on the successful deployment and
expansion of EV infrastructure.
Cities, transit authorities,
automakers, facility managers, property developers, corporate fleet
operators, and regulators all want to enable the electrical
infrastructure to support greener transportation, and utilities need to
provide a modern grid that can support it. This is creating a new
electrified transportation ecosystem, one where once disparate entities
now have to work together to provide a single solution.
in driving EV adoption and infrastructure deployment is California.
Most recently, the Public Utilities Commission chose to further its EV
infrastructure programs by approving $54 million for local utilities
like PG&E, SCE, SDG&E, and Liberty Utilities to invest in EV
chargers at schools, parks, and beaches. The state is also developing a
Transportation Electrification Framework to guide utilities in future
programs and accelerate transport electrification.
and campuses that are deploying smart technology in their buildings to
reduce energy costs and meet sustainability goals are now incorporating
EVs and chargers into their plans. In fact, charging infrastructure is
becoming one of the key assets in integrating a building to make it more
effective, as their resources can be tapped for enhanced energy
efficiency. EV chargers were once independent islands in the middle of a
parking lot, but property developers and facility managers are now
recognizing the benefits of incorporating them within their smart
While a big undertaking, these examples
prove that it’s possible—and that it needs to start now. We need to
provide cities with the tools to create infrastructure plans that can
realistically support their electric transportation goals. We need to
continue active deployment of charging infrastructure to lay the
groundwork for continued growth. We need to support public and private
fleet managers to build charging depots holistically. We need to
increase the role of electric utilities to bolster the power grid and
help advance common sense Standards. And we need to engage building
operators and facility managers as they deploy smart technologies in
Though the past decade has been one of
significant growth for the EV market, expect 2020 to be the year the
industry comes together and focuses on building those private-public
partnerships to support and execute the deployment of electrified
transportation infrastructure in cities across the country. The time is
now, and we’re in full acceleration mode in the EV market. ei