The EV charging infrastructure is growing to match increased levels of EV adoption. Experts predict a significant acceleration in developing this infrastructure, backed by government and private investments. Over the years, we’ll see a multiplication of charging capabilities to support EV adoption nationally, combined with changes in how we produce and distribute energy.
Let’s take a closer look at the future of EV charging.
Even though EV adoption is increasing worldwide, the approach to developing a modern EV charging infrastructure can vary significantly from one country to another.
The government is actively supporting the development of public charging networks with a plan to build 500,000 charging stations. Still, the current availability and distribution of EV charging stations can create challenges for EV owners.
The U.S. had adopted the Open Charge Point Interface as a common standard. However, charging station manufacturers must account for four types of connectors, including J-1772, CCS, CHAdeMo, and NACS plugs historically used in Teslas.
While there have long been many variations of connectors, many automakers have recently announced plans to adopt the NACS as a charging standard in new EV models.
In the United States, EV charging stations come in three different levels, each with its respective voltage and charging speed. Level 1 charging operates at 120 volts, offering slower charging speeds ideal for overnight charging. Level 2 charging uses 240 volts, providing a balance between charging speed and convenience, and is commonly found in homes, workplaces, and public stations. Level 3 charging, or DC fast charging (DCFC), typically operates at 480 volts, allowing rapid charging during long-distance travel, providing around 60-80 miles of range in just 20-30 minutes.
For most EV owners, at-home charging remains the preferred and practical solution. However, installing residential charging stations is not without its complexities. Many homes may necessitate electrical upgrades to support EV charging and the broader electrification movement as the existing residential energy infrastructure is aging and no longer able to support homeowner needs.
China has over 1 million public chargers that deliver 22 kW or less and a total of nearly 1.8 million publicly accessible electric vehicle chargers in 2022.
China is building the world’s most extensive public charging infrastructure, with 360,000 new slow charger installations in 2022 and 90% of the global fast charger installations, but this infrastructure is crucial in a country with more than 14.1 million electric vehicles and limited private at-home charging options.
The greater emphasis on expanding public charging stations is due to complex property situations and parking space shortages, leading to limited private charging infrastructure.
In China, EV charging stations come with AC charging or DC charging levels, each with their respective voltage and charging speed. AC charging pile typically operates at 220 volts, providing slower charging speeds suitable for overnight charging with an average charging time of 5 hours and 45 minutes. DC charging pile employs 380 volts and is commonly found in public charging stations or gas stations, offering a balance between charging speed and convenience with an average charging time of 1 hour and 54 minutes.
Several factors are contributing to the future of EV charging in China:
With 460,000 Level 1 and Level 2 EV chargers installed in 2022, the European Union (EU) is building a robust charging infrastructure. However, distribution remains unequal, with the Netherlands, Germany, and France leading the way.
Most recently, the EU passed a law requiring fast-charging stations (DCFC) to be installed every 60 kilometers, or roughly every 37 miles, along highways by the end of 2025. With this legislation, the EU aims to have 1 million public charging ports by 2025 and an ambitious goal of 3 million by the end of the decade. The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation also represents a significant step for the future of EV charging by setting mandatory deployment targets.
To further promote standardized and efficient charging, the EU has adopted the CCS (Combined Charging System) and IEC 62196 Type 2 connectors as common standards. This approach not only simplifies the charging process but also enhances interoperability, allowing EV owners to charge their vehicles with ease across different countries.
In the European Union, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are classified into different levels based on the voltage and power they offer, mirroring the charging levels seen in other regions. Level 1 charging, operating at 230 volts, is relatively slow, providing an average charging time of 10-12 hours for a full charge, making it most suitable for overnight charging or when speed is not a priority. Level 2 charging, utilizing 400 volts, is considerably faster, taking an average of 4-6 hours for a full charge, making it an excellent choice for daily commuting and extended parking periods. Meanwhile, Level 3 charging, or DC Fast Charging, commonly operating at 400 to 800 volts, offers rapid charging, allowing many EVs to reach 80% charge in under half an hour.
The U.S. needs to tackle a few challenges to keep developing its EV charging infrastructure.
Public and private charging networks are growing, but their distribution must still be equalized. California is leading the way with over 14,000 public charging stations, but there are many areas where EV drivers struggle to find charging options and experience “EV driving range anxiety.”
Installing a new EV charger comes with an upfront cost. Funding is available thanks to the federal government investing $7.5 billion into developing a national charging network, but allocating funds requires careful analysis.
Businesses and homeowners also need to analyze costs carefully at the private level. Even though EV owners save $6,000 to $10,000 on average over the lifespan of an EV, assessing cost savings linked to EV ownership and navigating the different tax credits and incentives can be complex.
The future of EV charging looks promising, with a 3.2% increase in EV charging ports during Q1 2023.
We also see manufacturers adopt modern standards and integrate intelligent features that enhance the charging experience. For instance, the Plug and Charge standard supports improved communication between the EV and charger and would support bidirectional charging in the future.
The development of the EV charging network also feels more intentional, with data revealing what consumers need and new business use cases emerging, such as hotels offering charging as a perk.
As the EV charging infrastructure grows, energy production has to increase. The national power production would have to double before 2050 to match predicted rates of EV adoption.
There are also challenges to address, including producing more energy without increasing harmful emissions, modernizing aging infrastructure, and reducing power losses linked to an ineffective distribution network.
Microgrids are emerging as a solution. This model would support the growth of the EV charging infrastructure by moving energy production and storage to the local level.
Utilities have an essential role to play. There are close to 700 microgrids in use in the U.S., and forming partnerships between utilities, businesses, and communities is crucial for building additional microgrid systems and integrating them into the existing EV charging infrastructure.
The government has already invested $14.7 million to support the development of microgrids for indigenous and underserved communities. The Inflation Reduction Act also allocates billions to clean energy and EV charging, two components that will indirectly support the rise of microgrids.
EV charging technology is evolving at a fast pace. These innovations could shape the future of EV charging:
The EV charging infrastructure is expanding rapidly, creating a bright future for EV adoption and mobility.
Now is the right time to plan for this green future. For businesses, investing in a private EV charging infrastructure can be a differentiator when operating a fleet or offering unique perks to customers and employees.
With over 269,000 successful EV charger installations and the most trusted network of certified electrical contractors trained in safe, high-quality, and reliable EV charging installations, Qmerit can help you plan your electrification project and create a more sustainable and resilient electric future for your home. Contact Qmerit today to get started.