Prepare to be amazed when you get behind the wheel of an EV (electric vehicle). Driving is simple and exhilarating because of the smooth, immediate acceleration of battery power. The most up-to-date technology is there, featuring tablet-like screens replacing traditional switches. The wide road beckons with lowering prices that make buying and operating many EVs as affordable as fossil-fuel alternatives.
Except when you look behind those polished exteriors. The tangle of cords in the boot serves as a reminder that cars should be plugged in and recharged every 250 miles ( (400km). Even if you do locate a public charging station, it may be damaged or inaccessible. It’s no surprise that “range anxiety” is one of the most common reasons given by drivers for not purchasing an electric vehicle.
If the world wants to meet its net-zero emissions ambitions, a worldwide transition from the hydrocarbons to the electrons is essential. However, as electric vehicles (EVs) grow more prevalent, the charging issue will worsen. The majority of today’s EV owners can charge their vehicles at home or even at work. However, many lower-income EV users will be unable to park in front of their residences or the executive vehicle park.
Approximately 60 percent of all charging is going to need to occur outside of the home by 2040, necessitating a huge public network of the charging stations. There were just 1.3 million of such public chargers in the world at the end of 2020. According to some estimates, 200 million of the things will be required to achieve net-zero emissions goals by 2050.
Who might be in charge of installing them? Drivers will want a combination of fast “long-distance” chargers deployed near highways that may add hundreds of kilometers to battery ranges plus slower “top-up” charges available along kerbsides or in parking lots of shopping malls, restaurants, and other businesses. The commercial sector, perceiving an opportunity to profit from rising electric vehicle ownership, has already expressed an interest. Infrastructure is being invested in by dedicated charging companies and carmakers. Oil giants, led by Shell, are currently installing chargers in gas stations and purchasing charging companies. Utilities are also sniffing around, as they have lots of electricity to sell.
However, there are significant issues with the charging industry. One issue is how to coordinate between charging point owners, owners of locations where they will be located, planning authorities, and grid companies. Another consideration is the price. One estimate puts the cost of the chargers required to attain net-zero by 2050 at $1.6 trillion. Profits may be difficult to come by initially since the networks are not going to be heavily utilized. A related danger is that there will be gaps in the coverage. Although California is a popular location for charging stations, is anyone interested in making an investment in Nebraska? There’s also the problem of competing networks to consider. Drivers ought to be capable of switching from one to the next without having to register for each one separately.
What should be done? Governments are attempting to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Many people are pouring money at public chargers in addition to subsidizing EV sales. The infrastructure law in the United States allots $7.5 billion to build 500,000 public facilities by 2030. New buildings in the United Kingdom will be required to have chargers installed. However, the sums are insignificant, and the issues of coverage, coordination and convenience will persist.