US Could Have up to 35 Million Electric Vehicles on Roads by 2030: SEPA

The United States would have 10 million to 35 million electric vehicles on roads by 2030. This will generate around 100 TWh of new power demand annually, according to a report by Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA).

The report suggests power utilities, network operators, and retailers manage electric vehicle (EV) charging to avoid distribution upgrade bottlenecks and reduce unnecessary stresses and costs to the power grid.

Noting the technological developments of vehicle-to-grid (V2G), electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) production design, and adoption of different business models, the report said 12% of EVSE vendors offer V2G options or develop their technology.

Utilities had been exploring managed EV charging programs for several years. In the past five years, managed EV charging programs increased in number, program size, sophistication, and diversity in approach.


SEPA

The program falls into two categories: passive and active managed charging.

Passive managed charging program relies on consumer behavior to affect charging patterns. Currently, there are 36 ongoing passive managed charging programs.

Active managed charging program relies on communication signals sent from utility to vehicle or charger to optimize EV load through turning charging on and off. The program allows utilities to interact with networked EV charges actively. Utilities control charging timings by sending signals through a network service provider platform or a utility system. In the United States, the active managed charging program increased from 17 in 2019 to 29 to date.

“Most U.S. drivers have not yet adopted a default charging behavior – because they don’t yet own an EV. This presents a massive opportunity for utilities to influence customer charging habits to maximize the benefit to the power sector without compromising driver convenience. The shift from passive to active managed charging, alongside the pairing of networked chargers with vehicle telematics-based programs, is one step closer to a vehicle-to-grid future,” said Garrett Fitzgerald, senior director, electrification at SEPA.

Per the report, 67% of the 31 utilities that participated in its survey plan to implement a new managed EV charging program within the next two years. Of this, the residential sector is targeted the most for managed charging programs as the government provides grants and subsidies for residential programs.

Utilities’ interest also increased in implementing manage charging programs in public sectors, including workplaces, fleets. These programs help consumers manage power use, avoid higher cost periods of power supply, and increase their engagement.

Utilities face several challenges in implementing managed charging programs, especially uncertainty about EV consumers’ participation, availability of EVs to manage limited information on program design, and regulatory and policy limitations.

EV sales failed to take off in 2020, increasing from 320,000 units in 2019 to 325,000 units in 2020. The Tesla Model 3 continued to be the highest-selling EV at 119,000 units. Sales of hybrid electric vehicles reached 361,000 units in 2020, a 15% increase from 2019.

According to a DNV report, V2G services would be a nascent market for vehicle manufacturers, energy suppliers, aggregators, and grid operators in the next five years. By 2050, the total capacity of EV batteries would rise to over 150,000 GWh, five times higher than the energy capacity of all stationary energy storage, including pumped hydro.