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California Needs Between 229,000 to 279,000 Electric Charging Stations By 2025: Report

A new report out by the California Energy Commission estimates that between 229,000 to 279,000 electric charging stations will be required by 2025 in order to reach the state’s target of five million EVs on its roads by 2030. There were nearly 14,000 public chargers, including 1500 direct current fast chargers, in the state as of the end of last year. In terms of a breakdown of those numbers, the report’s authors estimate that California will need between 99,000 and 133,000 destination chargers and 121,000 chargers at Multi-unit Dwellings (MUD) to support 1.3 million plug-in electric vehicles (PEV).  

The report, which was produced in conjunction with the National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL), also introduces the concept of a Dragon Curve. The curve corresponds to a surge in demand at the start and end of workdays. Demand mostly remains flat between those times. In terms of numbers, the report calculates that workplace chargers will need more than 200 MW at peak time around 9 am by 2025. That load will increase to 900 MW by 8 pm, when owners of electric vehicles drive back home.  

So what do these figures mean for electric vehicles? 

“Policies and incentives will have a geographically heterogenous impact on infrastructure requirements,” the report’s authors write. Utilities will be prime players in this scenario because they are responsible for designing incentives and rate structures for vehicles to be charged at certain times of the day. A key factor for utilities in California to take into account while designing solutions to better fit load generation is the share of solar energy in the state’s grid. Use of solar panels varies based on time of day. For charging stations to be effective, utilities should introduce price incentives to align driver travel and charging behavior with the grid’s peak capacity. 

To that end, the study’s authors have two suggestions for enabling factors. The first one is increasing the types and power capacity of residential chargers to charge electric vehicles in the morning.  The second one is increasing use of shared charging in non-residential areas to offset the need for “additional grid ramping capacity”. The report’s authors also note that investment that investment in transportation investments by electric utilities coupled with integrated resource planning and community initiatives by local governments will go a long way in tempering demand for charging stations. 

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